Purple Line Details Questioned at Chevy Chase Open House
Purple Line friends and foes, as well as those simply wanting to learn more about the planned arterial light rail, met with MTA staff at an open house in Chevy Chase on Wednesday night.
With the Purple Line now officially in the preliminary engineering stage, poster boards illustrating the light rail’s total estimated costs, along with what the Purple Line might look like, have been touring Montgomery and Prince George’s counties over the past few days at a series of open houses held by Maryland Transit Administration staff.
At Wednesday’s purple balloon-festooned open house at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center, both proponents and opponents of the proposed 16-mile light rail connecting Bethesda and New Carrollton (with over 20 station stops in between) had much to say about the “Locally Preferred Alternative,” as Governor Martin O’Malley has categorized the project.
“We’re really happy about how this is going,” said Bethesda resident Ben Ross, vice president of Action Committee for Transit.
“It’s such a fantastic opportunity,” said Ross—who has been supporting the Purple Line since 1989—of the possibility of getting from Bethesda to Silver Spring in 10 minutes.
Construction is slated to begin on the Purple Line in 2015, and the rail could be fully operational by 2020, according to the Maryland Transit Administration.
When constructed, the Purple Line would also have the potential to strengthen national security, added Keith Haller of Purple Line Now!, because the line would connect many federal government agencies spread out in buildings along the route.
Yet, many residents remain fervently opposed to the Purple Line.
Although Kate Detwiler supports public transportation options, she is opposed to the disruption of the environment that the construction of the Purple Line could bring.
Detwiler and her husband, Brian Detwiler, recently purchased their Chevy Chase home adjacent to the Purple Line, and while a disclosure was made at the time of purchase about the construction of the Intercounty Connector many miles away, no mention or disclosure was made by the real estate agent about the proposed Purple Line, slated to run by their back yard.
The money going into the Purple Line could be better used educating local residents in how to take advantage of public transportation options that currently exist, Brian Detwiler added.
For many, the future of the Capital Crescent Trail, which currently follows land on which the Purple Line is planned to be built, is in serious jeopardy.
The light rail line would destroy the beautiful path, said Maj-Britt Dohlie of Bethesda.
“It’s ill-conceived and driven by developers,” she added.
Ajay Bhatt, president of the nonprofit organization Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail, agreed. Besides raising taxes, the Purple Line “is still going to increase traffic on the Beltway and destroy the [Capital Crescent] Trail."
"It’s great for developers but for residents all along the road, it’s going to be a nightmare," Bhatt said.
Sue Watkins of Bethesda, added that the money that will need to be spent to build an overpass for the Purple Line to cross Connecticut Avenue would be better spent on schools.
The Purple Line is currently estimated to cost about $1.9 billion in state and federal funds. Reconstruction of the Capital Crescent trail alongside the rails will likely cost over $100 million, The Washington Post has reported, and Montgomery County will have to fund (or seek funds for) the trail reconstruction costs.