Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Baltimore & Montgomery United? Red & Purple Line Backers Say Full Public Funding Needed

Seemingly in response to yesterday's Maryland Juice story about the ICC and Purple Line funding, Baltimore's Red Line Now PAC and Montgomery's Action Committee for Transit have issued a joint press release. Today they call for full public funding of their light rail projects. We reprint the release below, as well as excerpts from the Washington Examiner article leading to all this commotion.
Press Release: Red & Purple Line Backers Say Full Funding Needed 
The Action Committee for Transit of Montgomery County and the Red Line Now PAC of Baltimore today called on the legislature to guarantee that new transportation funding will fully fund the non-federal share of the Purple Line and Red Line. 
The highway lobby, in recent days, has begun trying to endanger vitally needed mass transit expansion by demanding private funding for public transit. 
"We cannot leave these critical projects in the hands of a capricious market," said Robbyn Lewis, chair of Red Line Now PAC. 
"If the highway lobby thinks developers should pay for transportation, they should start by sending Kingdon Gould the bill for the Intercounty Connector," added Ben Ross, vice-president of ACT.  Kingdon Gould is the developer of Konterra, located near the east end of the ICC. 
ACT and Red Line Now PAC are locally based citizen groups that advocate better transit.
This press release was very likely prompted by a recent Washington Examiner article, headlined "Private funding needed for Purple Line, Leggett says." Relevant excerpts below:
Officials have expected the federal government to pick up about half the bill for the new rail project, but now face the reality that those funds may not be available.... 
Tom Farasy, co-chairman of the Purple Line Alliance, said each county should be open to a variety of potential revenue streams to fund the project, which could have a "mammoth" economic effect....
"We're very supportive of not only that, but any and everything, because it's clear the federal government is not just going to write a check," Farasy said. "It's probably going to be even more demanding once Congress gets through its debt ceiling issues."
Full Disclosure: I previously served as campaign director for Purple Line NOW! -- not to be confused with the Purple Line Alliance mentioned in the article. The latter entity is related to the Maryland-National Capital Building Industry Association. In any case, the article interestingly also quotes Capitol Crescent Trail opponents of the Purple Line.

So let's step back: Maryland is currently debating how to raise transportation funds on the same day it is announced that the ICC has cracks and the Purple Line should be funded privately? I suspect that is why transit boosters are beginning to worry.

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