Monday, September 16, 2013

Chevy Chase, Md., still fighting Purple Line

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Chevy Chase, Md., still fighting Purple Line Maryland Transit Administration

Maryland's proposed Purple Line light rail transit route spanning two counties north of Washington, D.C., still is facing resistance from Chevy Chase, Md., near the route's western terminus of Bethesda.

The municipality continues to object despite gathering momentum advancing the project. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley last July formally announced a state transportation package including $280 million for design work and land acquisition for 16-mile, $2.15 billion line.

"This is a political issue; it's a lobbying issue; it's a PR issue — a more clever legal issue than we've ever fought before," Chevy Chase Councilman Al Lang declared to local media. The Council plans to hire a consultant to interpret, and presumably find flaws within, the Purple Line environmental impact statement released by the Maryland Transit Administration.

Council members reportedly are most irked by the lack of an at-grade crossing on Lynn Drive, not located near any planned station, for which the town has lobbied. Chevy Chase also cites the risk of LRT local high school students.

Currently, many Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School students cross the Capital Crescent Trail at Lynn Drive. About 232 people cross the trail every day, according to the Maryland Transit Administration.

Current plans locally include raising LRT right-of-way over an existing trail (former rail route), and creating a pedestrian underpass, which would require the taking private property from homeowners on Lynn Drive. "None of the alternatives are workable or acceptable," said Councilman David Lublin.

Opponents to the overall plan say they plan to engage in stalling tactics in hopes of making the project unfeasible financially and politically.

Opposition and objections to the Purple Line have been more frequent and intense within Montgomery County communities such as Chevy Chase, located 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.