MoCo Purple Line Funding

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Well, that didn’t take long. Montgomery County has agreed to $40 million in new county funding for the Purple Line.

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) said Thursday that he has committed an additional $40 million in county money toward state plans to build a 16-mile light-rail Purple Line through the Maryland suburbs.

Leggett said he told state Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn last week that the county would contribute the $40 million, in addition to $177 million in previously committed in-kind contributions, as long as the money wasn’t needed for five to six years. Rahn agreed to that timing, he said.

Leggett said the county would find the money by “reprioritizing” its six-year Capital Improvements Program, which funds new roads, libraries, recreation centers and other county facilities. That could result in other construction projects being delayed a year or so, or the county borrowing more to increase the overall capital budget, which hovers around $2 billion, he said.

“The Purple Line is our number-one transportation priority,” Leggett said. “Clearly no one wants to spend more, but when you look at it in a comprehensive way, this project will be here many, many years. In my opinion, it’s a good deal, but it won’t come without some sacrifices and some adjustments.”

The good news is that the money will be paid out in the future, giving the County time to absorb the hit. The bad news, as anyone who’s ever advocated for a project to get CIP funding can tell you, is that $40 million is going to delay or kill a whole bunch of worthwhile projects in the nest several years.

No word yet on whether Prince George’s County will pony up more money, or how much.

So one more hurdle has been cleared. Standing alone, I don’t have a problem with this concession, because the Purple Line is the county’s #1 priority. But there are other hurdles, and there are going to be other costs. How those costs get allocated, and how high the bill gets, is something that we should all keep a close eye on over the next year or two.

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