This past May, the possibility of the Purple Line project being put on hold indefinitely seemed like a real likelihood. At the time, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled that federal transit officials needed to complete a “supplemental” environmental review, arguing that the defendants needed to take a “hard look” at the impact the transit line could have on WMATA’s ridership and safety issues. Two months later, a federal appeals court reinstated the Purple Line’s environmental approval, allowing work to start on the $2 billion project, while the legal case carried on.
Now, Greater Greater Washington reports that a federal appeals court has unanimously reversed Leon’s ruling with a delivery scheduled for 2022.
While a group, known as "Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail," attempted to block the line by arguing that a new environmental review was required due to the decline in ridership on the Metro, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit argued that the decline in ridership was not new or significant enough to warrant such a decision.
The “Friends” group’s argument that the transit line could harm local water quality and wildlife or the socioeconomic makeup of local communities was also deemed too speculative.
When Leon ruled that an additional environmental review would be required, responses were largely negative.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan wrote a statement that said the ruling was “incredibly disappointing, but not entirely surprising.” He further added, “The fact that it took a federal judge this long to reach the conclusion that more study is needed is completely baffling and, if allowed to stand, will cause irreparable harm to this vital project and cost the state hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars.”
In an interview with WAMU, Chevy Chase resident and plaintiff in the lawsuit filed in 2014 John Fitzgerald described Leon’s previous ruling as a “victory of substantive analysis over agency arrogance.”
The 16-mile transit project is expected to connect Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Already, Maryland has spent $300 million on development work.
What are your thoughts, Curbed DC readers? Are you excited for this turn of events? Uncertain? Or do you wish things had turned out differently?
Do you approve of the appeals court’s decision to uphold the Purple Line?
This poll is closed
• Breaking: Appeals court upholds the Purple Line [Greater Greater Washington]
• Purple Line delayed, thanks to judge’s ruling [Curbed DC]
• Purple Line project moves forward [Curbed DC]