Purple, Red Lines Could Yield 7,000 Construction Jobs
Officials are readying Maryland's workforce, but funding for the light rail projects still remains uncertain.
The heads of Maryland’s transit administration and labor department say they’ll work together to prepare the state’s workforce for nearly 7,000 construction jobs that could be generated by the planned Purple Line and Baltimore's Red Line light rail systems.
Funding for Maryland’s transportation projects has been a key issue in this year’s legislative session. A gas tax bill introduced by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley this month would raise more than $3.4 billion over the next five years, some of which would go towards the 16-mile Purple Line, which, like many other state transit projects, is not yet fully funded.
Following the introduction of the legislation, Maryland Transit Administrator Ralign T. Wells and Maryland Labor Secretary Leonard J. Howie III signed a partnership agreement announcing their two departments will collaborate to focus job training efforts on trades that could see a workforce shortage when construction launches on projects like the Purple and Red lines. The trades, they say, include heavy equipment operators, electricians, cement and brickmasons, carpenters and ironworkers.
The two departments also plan to conduct outreach along the Purple and Red Line corridors to encourage Marylanders to prepare for the job opportunities, according to a news release.
“As Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation continues to build a full pipeline of trained and ready-to-work Marylanders, we’re thrilled to partner with MTA to direct specific workplace efforts toward those who will build Maryland’s transportation future,” Howie said in the statement.
Funding still remains uncertain for both transit projects, however. O’Malley’s gas tax is running into opposition from some rural lawmakers who say the plan “overwhelmingly” subsidizes mass transit, though the majority of the state uses roads more than rails, The Gazette reported.
Earlier this month, the Riverdale Park Town council sent a letter to the Maryland State Legislature declaring its support for the Purple Line and urging continued funding for the project.
A total of three stations are proposed in the vacinity of Riverdale Park—the Riverdale Park Station at Kenilworth Avenue and Route 410, the Beacon Heights Station at Riverdale Road and Route 410, and the M Square Station.