Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot to responded to a Washington Examiner story that gave the impression he thought the Purple Line might be a waste of money. Franchot, in a statement sent to the press, blasted the Examiner for questioning his loyalty to the project.

The article quotes Franchot from a Sept. 22 Board of Public Works meeting as saying “It just strikes me that an eight-year, $160 million commitment is an awful lot of money for an awful long time for, frankly, projects that are still – speculative is probably too harsh a word, but the question of whether they are going to get funded is still up in the air.”?However, Franchot says the Examiner took his remarks out of context and published a story that was a “gross misrepresentation” of his position on the project. He explained what he was questioning in his statement to the press.

“At Wednesday’s meeting, I did ask substantive questions about two general engineering consultant contracts with eight-year terms and a total cost of $160 million, he said. Given the magnitude of this investment of taxpayer dollars, particularly at a time when so many other worthy projects around the State have been deferred due to budget constraints, I sought reassurance from Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) officials that these services ‘are absolutely vital to the goal of getting these projects funded and built.’”

The Purple Line is a light rail line proposed to connect the New Carrollton Metro Station in Central Prince George’s County to Downtown Bethesda in Montgomery County. The line would include stops at the University of Maryland, Takoma Park and Silver Spring.

The project has the support of local politicians in Prince George’s and Montgomery County as well as Gov. Martin O’Malley. The project will be a hot-button issue in the upcoming weeks as former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, who’s seeking re-election, opposes the project.

That opposition is a key factor why Franchot was so strong in his own defense. Franchot is supporting O’Malley in his re-election bid and doesn’t want there to be any appearance that there’s a fracture in their relationship.

“This article does a disservice to the Purple Line project, as well as the Red Line and Corridor Cities Transitway projects, by unfairly questioning the unity and resolve of our state’s leaders at a time when the State of Maryland is preparing to compete for federal funding support,” Franchot said. “In reaffirming my support for the Purple Line, I am also reaffirming my commitment to work with Governor O’Malley, the General Assembly and our congressional delegation to ensure this project is funded and built in a timely manner.”

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO