Open houses encourage public support of additional Metro line
This month, the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) will host four open houses in Montgomery County to inform the public about the Purple Line. The proposed Metro rail track will run from Bethesda to New Carrollton and will have 21 stops, several of which will be in the downtown Silver Spring area.According to Purple Line project manager Mike Madden, the additional Metro line will provide a more convenient means of public transportation. "The goal is to provide faster and much more reliable transit and to improve system connectivity," Madden said. "We have a terrific Metro rail system, but what we don't have is an East-West connector."
The Purple line will consist of above-ground light rail cars, which are about half the size of regular Metro cars. It will transport a projected number of 60,000 daily riders and keep 20,000 cars off the roads each day.
Last month, Governor Martin O'Malley approved the Preliminary Engineering Phase, allowing the construction plans for the 16 mile light rail to move forward. If all of the plans go through, construction on the Purple Line will start in 2015, and it will begin operating in 2020.
Madden emphasized that the proposed line will benefit not only commuters, but also people who are looking for work. "I think it will benefit P.G. and Montgomery County residents, and people who want to get jobs," he said. "I think we will serve large numbers of people who rely heavily on transit, and people who use transit by choice."
Silver Spring resident Barbara Hill believed that the new Metro line will be a positive addition to the community. "I'm excited about it [the Purple Line]. I like the Metro but I think this will be easier," Hill said.
The decision to construct the Purple Line has created some financial challenges. Half of the funding for the Purple line will come from the state, while the other half will come from the federal government. According to Madden, though Governor O'Malley has approved the funding plan, the proposed money has not been set aside. "It is not assured that we will receive the unding," Madden said. In addition, incorporating the track into its environment will create a challenge. "The overarching difficulty is the fact that we're trying to fit a new rail line in an urban environment," Madden added.
The next open house will take place on Nov. 10 at Beacon Heights Elementary School.
Rachel Auerbach. More »