Monday, July 22, 2013

Bethesda, Md., mulls Purple Line terminus plans

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Officials in Bethesda, Md., and the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) are moving with some urgency to resolve site plans for a preferred Purple Line light rail transit terminus in Bethesda before year's end.

MTA officials say they must have an accord in place to raze an existing structure, and plan to present a plan July 22, 2013, for redevelopment of the site which would include Purple Line station design.

Approval of the Bethesda Purple Line Station Minor Master Plan Amendment is sought befor the state enters the pursuit of federal funding assistance for the Purple Line, expected to cost $2.16 billion. The current structure must be removed by Dec. 31, 2015, so the MTA can construct a station, according to local media.

But owners of the current structure, known as the Apex Building, so far have not responded to MTA entreaties, which are based on the idea of razing the building even in exchange for higher density development.

Dogged for years by various anti-rail interests, the Purple Line's viability improved markedly earlier this month when Gov. Martin O'Malley identified $280 million for design work and land acquisition for the project.

Opposition and objections to the Purple Line have been more frequent and intense within Montgomery County communities along the more western portion of the route, though county officials support the project. The Purple Line has been far less contentious and more generally welcomed within Prince George County, which includes the eastern terminus of New Carrollton, Md.