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Purple Line advances to engineering phase

Maryland’s proposed Purple Line rail transit line moved closer to federal funding Thursday when federal transit officials announced the project has advanced to the engineering phase.

The Federal Transit Administration announced that the 16-mile project that will run between Bethesda and New Carrollton was moved to the engineering phase of the agency’s New Starts grant program.

“Entry to engineering is a necessary prerequisite to receive substantial federal support for the Purple Line,” said Maryland Transit Administration Administrator Robert L. Smith. “This notice is evidence that the federal government shares our belief that the project will transform the way Marylanders travel between Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.”

Advancing the project to the engineering phase is the last step before the Federal Transit Agency can sign a full funding agreement with the state.

If approved, the proposed $2.4 billion project will receive $900 million in federal funding.

In March, the federal agency gave the project a medium-high rating and recommended that funding including $100 million in fiscal 2015.

The balance of the project will be paid for with between $360 million to $760 million in state money, a total of $240 million in local contributions from Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties and between $500 million and $900 million from a private-sector partner.

The announcement comes just one day after state transportation officials announced $230 million in local contributions from Baltimore City for the $2.9 billion Red Line project that will run from East Baltimore to western Baltimore County.

Transportation officials Wednesday said that the Purple Line is further along in the process but expressed confidence that the federal government would also agree to provide $900 million in funding for the Red Line, as well.