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Purple Line announcement coming Monday

Transit projects in Maryland have some of the money they need thanks to a gas tax increase approved by the General Assembly this year. (File photo)

State officials are planning a “major announcement” about the Purple Line, an east-west light rail line that would connect New Carrollton in Prince George’s County to Bethesda in Montgomery County.

Gov. Martin O’Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown will make the announcement, which also includes details of a broader transportation plan for Montgomery County, at the Bethesda Metro Station on Monday afternoon. Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett is also expected to be present.

The stop is the latest in O’Malley’s tour of areas where transportation projects are expected get off the ground following an infusion of cash into the Transportation Trust Fund, which officials said was bereft of money for new construction until this year, when the General Assembly OK’d the state’s first gas tax increase in 20 years.

Brown’s presence at the announcement gives him an opportunity to speak to a Montgomery County audience in the midst of his run for governor. Montgomery voters are considered to be Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler‘s and Del. Heather R. Mizeur‘s base in the Democratic primary next year.

No jurisdiction in the state is more desperate for new transportation options than Montgomery, where suburban areas near Washington, D.C., are choked by traffic daily.

The 16-mile Purple Line is seen by officials as a major part of providing relief to commuters. Nineteen stops will be made between New Carrollton and Bethesda, providing a transit option in one of the state’s most populated areas.

Final design of the $2.2 billion project is expected to begin this fall, and construction could begin in 2015. If all goes to plan, the light rail would open for use in 2020, according to transportation officials.