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Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and Gov.-elect Larry Hogan talk to reporters following their meeting in Annapolis. (The Daily Record/Bryan P. Sears)

Federal lawmakers urge Hogan to back Purple, Red lines

Maryland’s nine federal Democratic legislators Thursday called on Larry Hogan to support the proposed Purple and Red Lines, two multi-billion rail projects that could be eliminated by the incoming Republican governor.

In the letter signed by U.S. Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin and Reps. Elijah E. Cummings, Steny H. Hoyer, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Chris Van Hollen, John P. Sarbanes, Donna F. Edwards, and John K. Delaney, the legislators expressed their support for the project.

“We know you share our commitment to strengthening Maryland’s economy and ensuring that the people of Maryland have access to infrastructure they need to excel in their lives, and we believe construction of the Red and Purple Lines is central to achieving these priorities,” the lawmakers wrote.

“If Maryland signs full funding grant agreements for each project with the Federal Transit Administration by the end of this September as currently planned, the Red Line and the Purple Line will each receive $100 million in federal funding this fiscal year, and up to $900 million in federal funding over the entire construction period.

“The entire Baltimore and Greater Washington area Congressional delegations have fought hard to ensure that federal funds are available to support the Red and Purple Lines, and we have worked closely with State and local leaders to put in place the many components needed to qualify the projects for federal funding.  This is truly an historic opportunity that may never come again, and we look forward to working with you to finalize plans for the Red and Purple Lines in order to ensure that Maryland benefits from the better future these projects will create.”

The fate of the two transit lines is less than certain.

Hogan, during the campaign, said that he did not believe the state could afford the two projects that combined carry an estimated cost that tops $5 billion. But since his election he has attempted to hedge those comments saying that he would examine the projects.

But this week, Hogan announced the appointment of Pete Rahn as transportation secretary, calling him “the best highway builder in America.

Rahn, who served in similar positions in Missouri and New Mexico, told reporters Tuesday he favored a balanced approach but would not comment on the immediate fate of the two projects.

Hogan, during a news conference Thursday, declined to discuss the issues.

“We can’t tell you what are thinking is on that. We’ve said a hundred times we’re  not going to be talking about that until I become governor,” Hogan told reporters. “Next week well have an announcement about the budget and at some point in the future we’ll talk to you about the Red and Purple line. No decisions have been made. We haven’t taken over the government. Martin O’Malley is still the governor. Our transportation secretary hasn’t even gotten on board yet. It would be ludicrous to come out with some sort of a policy change when we’re not ready to do that.”