The debut of the Purple Line probably will be delayed past 2026, and plans for easing traffic congestion along I495 and I270 won’t be developed until current litigation is resolved, Maryland Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller said Tuesday night.
Miller was the guest speaker at the monthly meeting of Action Committee for Transit (ACT), which was held in the Silver Spring Civic Center.
While work continues on the 16-mile light rail Purple Line, Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld believes it will not be ready to go in 2026 as announced previously, Miller said.
The Moore-Miller Administration inherited a 36-year to build the light rail system, which already has been delayed by more than four years and has rung up $1.46 billion in cost overruns, Miller said. Due to a change in contractors, the project was dormant for about two years, she noted.
Currently, about 400 employees at 50 sites are working, mostly to relocate utilities. That work is about 70% complete, Miller said.
Acknowledging that businesses and residents near the work sites have suffered, Miller said the state is trying to expediate work. By the end of this Fall, “We’ll have a lot more information,” and a more exact timeline should be announced, she told attendees.
As for toll lanes and road widening plans created during the Gov. Larry Hogan Administration, litigation has put those plans on hold, Miller said. Once that is resolved, the state will work on a new proposal that either will continue to be financed as a public-private partnership or change to government financing, she said.
The state cannot start all over as that would mean a loss of federal funds and a delay of years, Miller said. Instead, the state will consider what needs to be done, which she said could mean road widening along the entire stretch or only at the American Legion Bridge.
She promised to keep the community informed and a part of the process. The solution will revolve around equity, a reduction in fossil fuels and best ways to get people to their jobs and shopping from their neighborhoods, Miller said, noting, “It is soul crushing to be in that traffic.”