The planned Purple Line, which got federal approval Friday, would connect Bethesda, Silver Spring, College Park and New Carrolton.
A 16-mile light rail proposal between Bethesda and New Carrollton now has the Fed's stamp of approval. Gov. Martin O'Malley (D-Md.) announced the Federal Transit Administration's thumbs up for the Purple Line to move into a preliminary engineering phase.
Approval means the project moves to preparation of more detailed plans, cost estimates and environmental studies. After those hurdles are completed, funding will have to be authorized and appropriated, with the state and the federal government splitting half the cost.
The Purple Line is designed to link both branches of Metro's Red Line at Bethesda and Silver Spring, the Green Line at College Park and the Orange Line at New Carrollton. It also would connect all three MARC commuter rail lines, Amtrak and local bus services.
If all goes well construction could start in 2015, with commuters riding the rails by 2020.