Since October 2011, the Maryland Transit Administration planned to begin construction for the installation of the Purple Line, a sixteen mile light rail train (LRT). LRTs generally operate along right-of-ways and consist of individual tramcars to form a train.
The Purple Line will connect New Carrolton, located in Prince George’s County, to Bethesda, located in Montgomery County. A fourth of the trains twenty one planned stops would be located at the University of Maryland, providing an efficient source of transportation for college students.
Additionally, the Purple Line would connect to the pre-existing Metro System rail lines, including the Green, Red, and Orange lines. The Purple Line Project was originally projected to cost the state of Maryland $2.4 billion. However, several cost-saving measures have managed to remove $215 million from the original price tag as a result of Governor Hogan’s conditions.
One of these cost-saving measures is to install the Purple Line on existing tracks underlying the Capital Crescent Trail, an amenity to so many who enjoy jogging and biking on the trail. While the use of the trail for this project has outraged many local residents, installing the Purple Line in an already carved out area would save construction time and expense.
“My backyard abuts the Capital Crescent Trail, and the Purple Line will be in my backyard. I don’t give a damn what costs are saved. I don’t want the train to be there,”said a Chevy Chase resident who did not want to be named.
The Metro System has been a major form of transportation in the daily lives of many people in the Metropolitan area. Not only is the Metro System efficient, but relatively inexpensive. What will be the effect on daily commuters when the Purple Line is installed?
Many who oppose it believe that a majority of the trains will run empty. Additionally, the disruptions due to the construction in an already congested area will drastically change schedules. Potentially, many civilians will have to catch other lines or buses to get to work, changing their morning and evening routines all together.
The proposed cut backs were made in several areas such as architecture and aesthetics, art, maintenance of traffic during construction and platform lengths, just to name a few. Many are fearful of increased noise and vibration due to the decreased height of the sound barrier or the elimination of a grassy track bed for a cost saving gravel bed.
Chevy Chase resident, Angela Davis, shared her thoughts about the cost-saving measures. “I don’t think that cost-savings have any affect on the end result,” she said. “As long as it does not reduce any of the safety measures of installing a light-rail system.”
Planners also proposed to initially purchase fewer rail cars and extend the time between trains from six minutes to seven and a half. While some of these changes seem minor, just tweaks here and there, they are lifestyle changes for many.
However, the recurring question remains, is the Purple Line really necessary? Will the installation of the Purple Line affect customers in a positive way over time? Will this battle, that has gone on now for years, turn out to be money well spent or a total waste of time causing unnecessary heartache for the communities affected? At this point, support, at least in the political arena continues to grow.
Article by MoCo Student Politics writer Corinna Davis of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School