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FTA issues Record of Decision,
another huge boost forward!

On March 20 MTA project manager Mike Madden announced that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has issued what's known as the "Record of Decision" (ROD) for the Purple Line, marking another important milestone for the project. But what does it mean and what is the significance of the announcement? It's sometimes difficult to follow the bouncing ball of Purple Line milestones so we wanted to take this opportunity to deconstruct the latest announcement and then briefly describe where we go from here.

What is the Record of Decision?

The Record of Decision signifies the end of the environmental review process for the project. It is the final approval in a lengthy, multi-year federal environmental review process. By issuance of the ROD, the FTA has determined that the Purple Line has satisfied all the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. The ROD also contains all comments received during the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) review period and a written response to each comment. Lastly, the ROD identifies any actions required by the state to mitigate the anticipated environmental impacts of the project.

Why is it important?

With the ROD in hand, the State can now request the initiation of final design, immediately begin acquiring right-of-way (i.e., private property) where needed, and most importantly, begin discussions with the FTA to secure a full funding grant agreement to build the Purple Line. More on that in a moment!

What are the next steps?

The next and most important milestone of all is securing funding for the project from the federal government. There will be several project milestones in the interim, including the selection of a private partner to build, operate and maintain the Purple Line, but none is more important than the Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) with the federal government. It is the culmination of the decades-long effort to fund the construction of the Purple Line.

The FFGA will commit the federal government to paying 38.05, or $900 million dollars, towards the costs of constructing the Purple Line. The State expects to reach a full funding grant agreement with the federal government in the spring of 2015. The state has already committed its share of construction funding so once the FFGA is reached, construction can begin.

You may have heard the good news last week that $100 million dollars was included in the President's proposed budget for construction of the Purple Line. This money can be viewed as a down payment, of sorts, by the federal government on the project and indicates their firm intent to enter into a full funding grant agreement with the State. The Purple Line was one of only seven new projects to be recommended for a full funding grant agreement in the President's proposed budget which speaks to the FTA's confidence in the project.

Are there any potential roadblocks?

Yes! The $100 million dollars in the President's budget is still subject to Congressional approval as are any future appropriations to the project. Congress has traditionally respected the Federal Transit Administration's recommendations because it is a custom that has been developed over time, but congressional intervention is not unheard of. In 2012, House Republicans stripped $150 million of the $250 million in funding allocated for the Honolulu rail to use as leverage in negotiations with the Senate. We cannot let our guard down until the full funding grant agreement has been signed.

To that end, Purple Line NOW will be meeting with our congressional representatives in the coming months to reiterate the importance of federal funding and to counteract the lobbying efforts being waged by opponents of the Purple Line. The prospects of the Purple Line becoming a reality have never been brighter. We are only one year away from being able to say with certainty that the Purple Line will be built. It has taken us a long time to get to this point, but with your continued support, we will see shovels in the ground next year.

Maryland's Gubernatorial Candidates
Participate in Transportation Forum

Purple Line NOW! hosted an exciting Transportation Forum with Maryland's Gubernatorial Candidates on Tuesday, February 18 at the Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center on the Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus.
Attorney General Doug Gansler, State Delegate Heather Mizeur, and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman (the running mate of Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown) were joined on stage by Republican candidate Charles Lollar. Candidates shared their position on the current transportation situation in Maryland, their vision for the future, and what they, as governor, would do to help that vision become a reality.

Thanks to Montgomery College Television for taping the program
and making it available to us on Youtube!

(Click Here if the embedded video above does not work for you.)

A large audience made up of transit enthusiasts, labor groups, students, elected officials as well as the greater community was present. Many showed their strong support for the Purple Line by generously sponsoring the event - see our list of event sponsors Here. WAMU Radio, The Washington Post and The Gazette reported that the candidates largely agreed the Purple Line must be built, though they differed on who could best build it!

Although this event was organized by Purple Line NOW!, the Program was conducted in a neutral manner with introductions of each candidate done by Montgomery College Vice President and Provost, Dr. Brad Stewart. Neither Purple Line NOW! nor Montgomery College support or oppose any political party or candidate.

Purple Line NOW!
P.O. Box 7074
Silver Spring, MD 20907-7074

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Because Purple Line NOW! is a social welfare organization, and not a charitable organization, contributions are not deductible for federal income tax purposes as charitable contributions.

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