US Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has approved the $1.9bn Maryland purple east-west light rail project to enter the Preliminary Engineering (PE) phase.

The proposed light rail line spans 16 miles and will operate between Bethesda in Montgomery county to New Carrollton in Prince George’s county, as well as connecting four branches of the WMATA Metro system.

Following the approval the Maryland Transportation Administration (MTA) will move forward with detailed specifications and plans for the 21-station light rail system.

Construction on the project is expected to begin in 2015 and become operational in 2020. With the new route it will take about an hour to travel from Bethesda to New Carrolton.

The line will be a pedestrian-friendly system projected to handle 60,000 riders a day by 2030.

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