Friday, September 06, 2013

Maryland Purple Line (Should Go To Virginia)

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) released a a final environmental study released Thursday for the Maryland Transportation Administration (MTA) to build a 16-mile light-rail Purple Line across the Maryland suburbs between Bethesda and New Carrollton. 

The Center believes the line should be extended from New Carrolton around the 495 Beltway to connect to Largo Town Center Station, Branch Avenue Station, to Eisenhower Avenue Station in Northern Virginia.

Building a light-rail Purple Line across the Maryland suburbs would require condemning 116 homes and businesses.  Of the 116 displacements, 53 would be houses or apartment units, and 60 would be businesses that have an estimated total of 246 employees. Most of the affected businesses are in Silver Spring and Takoma Park, including several in the Mega Super Market on University Boulevard.  The biggest effects would be felt in the Riverdale area of Prince George’s County, where 22 homes would be lost along Riverdale Road.

After a Purple Line began to operate, some residents also might hear the “hum” of 18 electrical substations that would be spaced about a mile apart along the route. The trains would be powered by overhead electrical wires.

The line would connect the Maryland ends of the Metrorail system with Amtrak and commuter rail (MARC) stations. State transit officials say it would provide faster, more reliable east-west transit than buses and spur redevelopment near stations.

The federally required environmental review, which took four years, updated forecasts made by a draft study in 2008. The line was then predicted to cost $1.6 billion in 2007 dollars and to attract 68,100 riders a day by 2030. The new study estimates the construction costs at $2.15 billion in “year-of-expenditure” dollars and daily ridership at 74,160 in 2040. The ridership increase stemmed from anticipated population and job growth.

The line, which would have 21 stations, would cost $38 million annually in 2012 dollars to operate and maintain, according to the updated study. State officials have said they hope to begin construction in 2015 and open the line by 2020.

The public has 30 days to comment on the study before the state submits it to the Federal Transit Administration for approval.

Copies are available at and at libraries in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

The FTA’s approval of the environmental review would allow the state to fine-tune the Purple Line’s design and begin condemning and buying private property. (Wash Post, 9/5/2013)

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