Judge orders more study on ridership impact of Purple Line

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge dealt another blow to the proposed purple line light-rail project in D.C.'s Maryland suburbs.

The judge on Monday ordered more studies on the possible effect of declining subway ridership.

The judge's order puts construction of the 16-mile line on hold. Work has been delayed 7 months because of a federal suit filed by opponents of the line to connect Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

The Washington Post reports that Maryland officials have said they needed a favorable ruling by June 1, or they would have to suspend much of the rail project's planning and design work because state money would run out.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said in a statement that the ruling is disappointing and will cost Maryland hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars.

Statement from Governor Larry Hogan on Purple Line ruling:

"Today’s partial ruling by Judge Leon is incredibly disappointing, but not entirely surprising. 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.

"Moreover, the judge’s concerns were thoroughly addressed by federal transit officials by studies already completed and in public testimony more than five months ago. Ultimately, this ruling completely ignores both federal and state transportation experts, as well as environmental advocates, who are strong proponents of the Purple Line.

"This is not a political issue – it's an important transportation and transit priority for Maryland and the region that has strong bipartisan support. The state will continue to pursue any and all legal action to ensure that the Purple Line will move forward."

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