A federal funding agreement for a 16-mile light rail project in the traffic-choked suburbs of the nation's capital is expected to be signed "in the very near future," a spokesman for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Monday.

The agreement would free up $325 million in federal funds already appropriated and a total of $900 million over the life of the funding arrangement, said Doug Mayer, the governor's spokesman. Hogan spoke with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on Monday and Friday in what Mayer described as "very productive, high-level conversations."


Maryland transportation officials have suspended new construction contracts, hiring and procurement for the proposed Purple Line light rail project in

"The Purple Line project will harness the power of the federal, state, county and private sector partners to get a major infrastructure project under construction and create jobs," Mayer said. "It's a major win for the state and local communities."

The Purple Line is to run through Montgomery and Prince George's counties, two suburbs of Washington, D.C. The 21-stop project would connect New Carrollton, College Park, Silver Spring and Bethesda. The line would provide a direct mode of rail transportation for commuters between the state's two largest counties with a combined population of more than 1.8 million people.

Maryland officials have been working on developing the Purple Line for years to help address terrible traffic congestion in Maryland and around the nation's capital.

The total construction cost is about $2 billion.

State officials had estimated a potential opening in 2022, but that timeframe is expected to be pushed back after nearly a year of legal delays.

Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen applauded the expected decision and said they had worked with both the Trump and Obama administrations to secure the funding and protect a biking trail along the route.

"We know it will strengthen our economy, help combat congestion and air pollution, and improve the lives of families in our state," the two senators, both Democrats, said in a joint statement.

Baltimore Sun reporter John Fritze contributed to this report.