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Maryland To Seek Private Firm To Help Build And Operate Purple Line

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Later today in Bethesda, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley will unveil the state's plans for the Purple Line light rail project, and for the first time ever the state of Maryland will use a private firm to build and run a major public mass transit system.

Today O'Malley will announce plans for the 16-mile Purple Line, running east-west from Bethesda to New Carrollton. It's a $2.2 billion project, with 21 light rail stations running through Montgomery and Prince George's counties. The state is kicking in $400 million, the federal government $900 million and the rest would be covered by a mix of private and county money.

The state is looking for one company to run the entire operation. The only similar public-private partnership is the high-occupancy toll lanes on the Virginia stretch of the Capital Beltway, though D.C. officials are similarly seeking out a private company to build out a 22-mile streetcar network in the city.

The Purple Line isn't expected to be completed until 2020.

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