DALLAS — The state is hoping to generate $500 million to $900 million from the private sector for the 16-mile light rail system in the northern suburbs of Washington, D.C.

The Purple Line is the largest public-private partnership project in Maryland and the first transit P3 under the state's Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act that went into effect July 2013.

The $2.37 billion price tag is up from Maryland Transmit Administration's $2.2 billion estimate in late 2013. An additional $94 million is needed for land acquisition due to higher property values, along with $126 million of financing costs, according to the MTA.

"This announcement, coupled with the Federal Transmit Administration's recommendation for funding earlier this month, moves the Purple Line one step closer to construction," Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said March 20 when the FTA's record of decision was announced.

President Obama's proposed four-year transportation plan includes a total of $900 million for the Purple Line project as part of FTA's New Starts program. The proposal calls for $100 million to the Purple Line in fiscal 2015. The Purple Line funding is part of the Obama administration's request of $2.5 billion in fiscal 2015 for 26 transit projects in 16 states.

In January the state selected four international construction consortiums to compete for the Purple Line project. The four candidates will submit proposals through a competitive process later this year, MTA said, with recommendation of a preferred partner in later 2014 or early 2015. The final selection will be made by the Maryland Board of Public Works.

The successful concessionaire will receive annual availability payments from the state of $100 million to $200 million a year for operating and maintaining the light-rail system for 30 to 45 years.

The availability payments will come from revenue generated on the Purple Line and other systems operated by MTA, which will set the fare schedule.

Revenue from the Purple Line is estimated to be between $35 million to $40 million per year.

The state will own the land and rail assets of the Purple Line, which will be operated and maintained by the private partner. Construction could begin next year, with the system operational by 2020.

The Purple Line will connect with heavy-rail Metrorail lines operated by Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, three lines of the MARC commuter rail system, and Amtrak passenger train service.

When completed, the Purple Line will run east-west inside the Capital Beltway between Bethesda in Montgomery County and New Carrollton in Prince George's County. The 21 planned stations will provide direct connections to Metrorail's Orange, Green, and Red lines, and MARC's Brunswick, Camden, and Penn lines.

MTA's six-year capital budget includes $711 million of state funds through fiscal 2019 under the state P3 law for design, and construction of the Purple Line. Funding also includes $110 million each from Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

Estimated ridership on the Purple Line is expected to top 74,000 by 2040.

Lt. Governor Anthony Brown said the five-year construction phase will create 6,300 jobs.

"The Purple Line will bring thousands of jobs to the region, attract new residents and businesses to Prince George's and Montgomery counties, and help meet the demand for high-quality, reliable east-west transit service inside the Capital Beltway," Brown said.

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