BETHESDA, Md. (WJLA) - The state of Maryland will invest $400 million into the construction of the Purple Line through Prince George's and Montgomery counties while pursuing a private firm to build and operate it.
Flanked by a bevy of local politicians and leader, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley announced the major financial infusion, touting it as the first step toward getting the 16-mile light rail line built.
The governor specifically announced $400 million in stage funding for construction and $280 million to complete the line's design and purchase remaining parcels of property that will be required to lay track for the line.
The line, which will run independently of WMATA but link the rail system's Orange, Green and Red lines, will have 21 stations scattered across the 16-mile route between Bethesda and New Carrolton.
The funding announcement still falls well short of the amount officials estimate the line to cost, which is in the neighborhood of $2.15 billion. Officials hope to break ground on the project by 2015, with completion estimated to come I 2020.
O'Malley said that the Purple Line will create jobs, reduce traffic and revitalize communities in both counties.
Montgomery County has some of the worst traffic congestion in the state. O'Malley and lawmakers cited the choking traffic as an impediment to economic development and quality of life when they pushed for a gas tax increase in the last legislative session to help pay for projects like the Purple Line.
The state will now set up a bidding process for a private partner in the project; the company will be reimbursed for its costs over a 30-40 year span.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.