Thursday, June 18, 2009

Regional planning board endorses Purple Line LRT

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Maryland’s proposed $1.68 billion, 16-mile light rail transit Purple Line has been endorsed unanimously by the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board, bolstering the line’s advance ahead of two area highway projects also under consideration. The line would connect New Carrollton with Bethesda, serving as both a suburban connector and a circumferential feeder to Washington, D.C.’s Metro subway system.

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The board also approved adding rail right-of-way west of Bethesda to Silver Spring, Md., to the long-range plan for the line, which would add $480 million to the project but which is anticipated to bolster chances for federal funding support.

Officials in Maryland's Prince George’s and Montgomery counties already have approved the plan, which is expected to carry 62,500 riders per weekday. The line would include four transfer points with the Metro system, as well as transfer points for MARC and Amtrak rail services.

The project has yet to be officially approved as light rail by the state. The governor’s office is expected to weigh in later this summer. Besides LRT, a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) option had been considered. The project also has faced environmental opposition in Montgomery County.