DALLAS – The question of whether Maryland's $5.6 billion Purple Line light rail project will be financed as a public-private partnership remains in limbo until federal officials determine whether the declining ridership on Washington's Metro system will undermine the viability of the planned 16-mile rail line.

The Maryland Transit Administration will not be able to accept a $900 million federal grant already awarded to the project or begin construction on the rail line until the ridership survey is completed. The grant would cover almost half of the project's $2 billion of construction costs.

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