College Park and University of Maryland officials remain hopeful for the continued development of the Purple Line, after a federal judge's lone ruling set the project back, according to The Washington Post.
The 16.2-mile light rail is to extend from Bethesda to New Carrollton and is expected to be in service by 2022, according to the project's website. However, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon's ruling on Aug. 3 said the Purple Line's ridership projections must be redone because of Metro ridership and safety issues.
This ruling delays the Maryland Transit Administration's approval of the Purple Line's environmental analysis, which is crucial to the project's continuation, until the state conducts these new ridership forecasts, according to The Post. Leon cited Metro ridership and safety issues as reasons that "merit a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement," though according to The Post, Metro will neither own nor operate the line; the Purple Line will only connect to four Metro stations.
The public event Monday where federal officials were to commit $900 million toward the project's $2 billion construction was postponed indefinitely, according to The Post.
The project will hopefully "be right back on track soon," said Eric Olson, executive director of the College Park City-University Partnership.
"It's quite disturbing, this eleventh-hour delay," Olson said. "But I have confidence that the Attorney General, Brian Frosh, and the state are appealing this decision."
The Purple Line is scheduled to have five stops on and near this university's campus, The Diamondback reported earlier this year. This transportation line is an "important catalyst for economic development in our area," university spokeswoman Crystal Brown said.
"We remain supportive and hopeful that the Purple Line will continue to progress," she said.
The College Park City Council, including Mayor Patrick Wojahn, also support the line's construction, and Wojahn said he believes Leon is "over-exaggerating" Washington Metro's maintenance problems in relation to the Purple Line ridership.
"It's a shame that after all of the work and investment and time that … countless numbers of people have put into making this a reality … that a rather spurious decision by a single judge threatens to derail it," Wojahn said.
Attorneys for the MTA and the federal government said new ridership projections could delay the Purple Line project by six months and risks its $5.6 billion, 36-year, public-private partnership, according to The Post.
Both Wojahn and Olson said they are hopeful the judge's ruling will be overturned with an appeal.
"The worst case scenario is that [the ruling] could kill the project. I hope that it won't and that it'll keep on going," Wojahn said.