By Mark F. Gray, Staff Writer, mgray@afro.com

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has approved a $2 million grant for the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to begin infrastructure improvements along the Maryland Purple rail line that will connect Prince George’s and Montgomery counties through D.C. Metro.

This grant funds the Purple Line Corridor Mobility, Economic Development and Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Finance and Implementation Plan, which is the FTA’s pilot initiative.  The funds are made available through the Program for (TOD) Planning, which assists communities that are developing new or expanding mass transit systems. The TOD provides funding to project sponsors who integrate land use and transportation planning efforts with eligible transit projects. The grants fund comprehensive planning efforts to support transit ridership and mixed-use development near transit stations.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) approved a $2 million grant for the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to begin improving the Maryland Purple rail line. (Courtesy Image/Logo)

The Purple Line Collaborative Coalition (PLCC), is comprised of nearly 40 local public and private stakeholders.  Those stakeholders include MDOT, the Mass Transit Administration, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Montgomery and Prince George’s County Governments and the National Center for Smart Growth at the University of Maryland (NCSG), which leads the Purple Line Corridor Coalition (PLCC). CASA de Maryland and Enterprise Community Partners are leading on the project.

According to its website, the (PLCC) is an innovative public-private-community collaboration working to leverage Maryland’s modern transportation expansion project and create a place of opportunity for all who live, work and invest in the corridor between two of the state’s most affluent counties.  The purple line is a 16.2-mile light rail project under construction that is expected to create commercial growth and community development and is considered the “the largest regional transit investment of this century,” according to Gerrit Knaap, director of the University of Maryland National Center for Smart Growth (NCSG).

PLCC was instrumental in the planning process and has been the key to unifying the entities, which are expecting to benefit from the purple line’s transportation system. The new plan builds on specific goals laid out by the PLCC over the past four years that create pathways for investment and commercial opportunity along the corridor that will serve riders from Bethesda to New Carrollton. These goals include creating pedestrian and bicycle access and stimulating economic development that supports local business growth and enabling innovative strategies for economic development.

This FTA funding starts the process of infrastructure improvements developing throughout the area of construction that was based upon collaboration between MDOT, the Mass Transit Administration, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Montgomery and Prince George’s County Governments and the NCSG, which leads the PLCC.

The FTA’s Pilot Program for TOD was designed to assist project sponsors and local communities in integrating land use and transportation planning efforts that support ridership, connectivity for bikers and pedestrians, economic development and mix-use, transit-oriented development. The grant is the largest of 20 grants awarded nationwide in 2018 by the FTA.

“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 in a formal statement. “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.”

The purple line will allow riders to move between the Maryland branches of the Red, Green, and Orange lines of the Washington Metro without traveling into the District and will also offer transfers to all three lines of the MARC commuter rail system when it opens in 2022.