Feds OK Planning on MD Light Rail Route but Funding Questions Remain

Maryland wants $950 million federal dollars but budget reality could still scratch the project

The Federal Transit Administration last week gave the Maryland Transit Administration permission to start preliminary engineering on a proposed 16-mile light-rail route from Bethesda to New Carrollton. MTA officials now can begin a detailed design process on the $1.9 billion Purple Line, and expect construction work could run from 2015 to 2020.

The MTA and FTA still have to reach an agreement on the amount of federal funding for the project, which could be one of its biggest remaining hurdles. Maryland officials are asking the FTA to cover half the project’s cost, but understand expected federal budget cuts could force the FTA to reduce funding or turn down some projects.

(More on Maryland's Purple Line . . . )