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Oct. 27, 2008

Purple Line progresses on planning process

by Poorna Natarajan, Online Staff Writer
The Maryland Transit Association (MTA) produced the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Purple Line on Oct. 17. The document discusses the potential traffic flow changes, environmental effects, travel time reductions and cost effectiveness if the Purple Line is constructed. The draft is available for public viewing in the Purple Line web site.
The suggested Purple Line would be a 16-mile rapid transit Metro line running from Bethesda to New Carrollton.
The suggested Purple Line would be a 16-mile rapid transit Metro line running from Bethesda to New Carrollton.

The Purple Line would be a 16-mile rapid transit Metro line running from Bethesda to New Carrollton that would provide direct access to Metrorail, MARC and AMTRAK trains and local bus services. The Purple Line project was initially proposed in Nov. 1986, according to Thomas Autrey, Transportation Planner for the Montgomery County Department of Park and Planning. Designed to lessen traffic and serve as an east-west transportation link between Montgomery and Prince George's Counties, the Purple Line Project remains a high priority for MTA.

Following the release of the DEIS, the MTA has allotted 90 days for the public to comment. MTA will then hold four public hearings in November to discuss the draft consult with elected officials and then decide on the alignment, according to Michael Madden, the state's project manager for the Purple Line study. Federal approval and funding are necessary to proceed, Madden explained. "In the future, the Federal Transit Association has to approve and sign the final report," he said. "The federal government evaluates the project based on its cost effectiveness, affordability and eligibility for federal funding."

The DEIS is a milestone in the process of realizing Purple Line. MTA started analysis of bus and rail alternatives and alignment options in 2003. After analysis, the MTA worked with local government officials and extensive focus groups to produce the draft, according to Autrey.

The Downtown Silver Spring focus group in particular expressed concerns over the Purple Line's potential alignment and impact on the Silver Spring Community, according to Autrey. "They were concerned of accessing Silver Spring transit centers, central businesses in the Silver Spring district and streets, properties of Silver Spring," he said. Silver Spring residents were particularly concerned with the project affecting Wayne Ave, Madden added.

The long delay preventing construction is partly due to following many federal guidelines required to get federal funding, according to Autrey. Autrey specifically cited one of the many procedures that delayed the process. "A rather recent delay has been the project of the traffic forecasting model, which is a computer model that replicates what's happening in 2030," Autrey said. "The project team was not satisfied with the numbers and that caused a pretty long delay."

There are many factors that could further hold up the process, including the tightening budget crunch that may delay construction, according to Autrey. Although the federal government has reduced funding over the year, Madden believes that there is enough money to complete the planning process. However, Madden feels that construction of Purple Line will not happen in the very near future. "It would be pretty optimistic to say that we're beginning construction at 2012," Madden said.

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  • ; on October 27, 2008 at 7:52 PM
    isn't it important to mention the fact that the purple line won't actually be a metro rail but rather a light rail or fancy bus system?

    great article though, nice reporting. silverchips online is the top of the tops of high school newspaper and this kind of article is an example of that.
  • Blazer on October 30, 2008 at 10:52 AM
    The person under me is a n00blet.
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