The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced on Dec. 18 that $2 million in grant money will be provided to the Maryland Department of Transportation to plan “transit-oriented development” along the Purple Line, a light-rail transit line under construction that will run through Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties.
FTA awarded the grant to Maryland Department of Transportation for planning transit-oriented development, will include easier ways to access the Purple Line on foot and by bicycle. The planning funded by the grant must improve accessibility, increase ridership of the rail line and attract business, according to an FTA news release. The development must run along the entire transit line.
The Purple Line will operate as an 16-mile east-west rail line connecting Bethesda and New Carrollton Metro stations, although it is an MTA project separate from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. It includes a station in College Park at the University of Maryland and the whole project is schedule to start running in 2022.
Multiple groups helped create the grant proposal, the “Purple Line Corridor Mobility, Economic Development and TOD [transit-oriented development] Finance and Implementation Plan,” to submit to the FTA, said Maggie Haslam, spokesperson for the National Coalition for Smart Growth of the University of Maryland, which oversees the Purple Line Corridor Coalition.
The Montgomery County Executive’s office, the Prince George’s County Executive’s office, the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission and the Maryland Department of Transportation worked together, along with a coalition of more than 200 stakeholders called the Purple Line Corridor Coalition, to write the grant proposal to FTA, Haslam said. They submitted the proposal together.
“The Purple Line is the largest regional transit investment of this century,” said Gerrit Knaap, Director of the University of Maryland National Center for Smart Growth. “To be successful, it requires a highly coordinated effort by local and state agencies, private and public development, and community stakeholders. A well-orchestrated, collaborative plan with everyone at the table is essential, and has been proven to be the linchpin for other transit projects across the country.”
“This grant will support the critical work that is needed to ensure that all communities, businesses, and residents along the Purple Line benefit positively from this massive infrastructure investment,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich.
The purpose of the grants, awarded to 20 project sponsors across the country including the Maryland Department of Transportation, was to plan how to improve access to public transit, according to the FTA. Money for the grant came FTA’s Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development Planning.
“Convenient and safe access to public transportation can improve mobility,” said FTA acting administrator K. Jane Williams.
MDOT received the maximum amount applicants could receive from the grant, according to the FTA Notice of Funding Opportunity for the grant.
FTA required applicants to demonstrate they were working with land-use and transportation departments in the planning process, according to instructions given to grant recipients.
“I am pleased the Purple Line Corridor Coalition has received this $2 million to enhance transit-oriented development here in Prince George’s and in our neighboring jurisdiction, Montgomery County,” said Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. “There is so much opportunity for development around our transit centers and this funding will assist us in ensuring that citizens, who both live in and travel through our community, can enjoy quality establishments and amenities that meet their needs, while also ensuring that we maintain affordable housing options.”
Montgomery County Council member Tom Hucker (D-5) said he was glad to learn the funds will go to transit-oriented development along the Purple Line.
“Unfortunately, Governor [Larry] Hogan cut a lot of the protections from the project when he approved it,” Hucker said.
The grant will “smooth some of the rough edges” of the Purple Line by protecting residents from being displaced and protecting small businesses, Hucker said.