By Eileen Houlihan, senior writer/editor, ARTBA

Maryland Secretary of Transportation Pete K. Rahn said the state is committed to building the Purple Line, a 16-mile light-rail transit link in the suburbs northeast of Washington, D.C. But his boss, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ( R), wants to invest even more on highways.

“We need to be real and invest in transit, but there also needs to be something done about congestion,” Rahn said at the July 27 meeting of the Metropolitan Washington Road & Transportation Builders Association, ARTBA’s D.C. chapter. “People will pay dearly to stay in their cars.”

Maryland is now building 410 road and bridge projects totaling $4 billion, the most in the state’s history, Rahn said. Another $5 billion in projects is in the procurement and pre-construction process. That work includes the $100 million I-270 Corridor, which is expected to save time for D.C. Beltway motorists, and the $765 million Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge crossing the Potomac River between Charles and King George counties.

The $6 billon Purple Line is one of the nation’s largest public-private partnerships. Several ARTBA members are involved in the project. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently reinstated environmental approval for the line, allowing construction to proceed during litigation.

Rahn is responsible for all aspects of Maryland’s highways, transit and rail networks, toll facilities, motor vehicles, Baltimore/Washington International (BWI) Thurgood Marshall Airport and the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore. Rahn said he expects BWI, the busiest airport in the region, to continue to grow as international travel gains in popularity. The airport served about 25 million passengers last year, more than Washington Dulles International Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.