Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn has ordered a halt to much of the work on the $5.6 billion Purple Line light rail route.
The decision came a day after U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon’s ruling to study ridership estimates for the project, even though he rejected the majority of a lawsuit brought by a trail advocacy group.
“With a legal path forward, MDOT’s and the Purple Line’s situation has changed from the unknown circumstances of just two weeks ago,” Rahn said in a statement. “With an unknown timeline for an appeal and dwindling available cash to carry the federal reimbursable costs being expended by MDOT; and to protect the taxpayers of Maryland, I am ordering that action be taken immediately.”
Rahn ordered the project’s contractor, Purple Line Transit Partners, to stop executing new construction contracts, suspend purchase of non-essential materials and equipment and freeze construction staff hiring.
The department’s Maryland Transit Administration also was ordered to stop Purple Line-related hiring and to halt the funding of county design reviews. Requests for right-of-way purchases will be pulled from the Board of Public Works’ agenda.
The 16-mile east-to-west light rail line would connect Bethesda in Montgomery County with New Carrollton in Prince George’s County.