Purple Line plans making progress -- Gazette.Net


Plans for the Purple Line are trucking along, with crucial steps completed at the federal and the county Planning Board levels this week.

David Anspacher, a planner coordinator with Montgomery County’s Planning Department, said the Federal Transit Administration recently signed a record of decision signifying the formal completion of the environmental review process.

“It’s an important step in the process,” he said. “...Once that letter is issued, MTA is able to start acquiring properties.”

Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail sent out a press release Friday opposing the record of decision and saying that it and other organizations are considering challenging it in court.

On Thursday, the Planning Board discussed the Purple Line at length as part of the planning process for the proposed light-rail line.

The board is sending comments on the plans to four agencies: the Maryland Transit Administration, the State Highway Administration, Montgomery County and the Maryland Department of Transportation. The board does not have the final say over how the projects get built, but it can make nonbinding recommendations, Anspacher said.

“The staff was very concerned about pedestrian access to three of the stations, and so we’ve asked Montgomery County and the State Highway Administration to take another look and see if there’s something that can be done to improve pedestrian access,” he said.

There are other recommendations for the transit line, too.

Some recommendations the board approved Thursday have to do with the roads around proposed Purple Line stations. The board would like to see a direct connection between a Purple Line station planned for Silver Spring and the Metro Red Line station already there.

Another concern is a crosswalk on 16th Street in Silver Spring, Anspacher said. The transit authority is planning to move it from its current site to a spot closer to the station. People would have to cross the six-lane highway with cars traveling at 40 miles per hour to get to the station, so the Planning Board is recommending a pedestrian signal at the crosswalk.

“With the addition of a major transit station, we can expect a lot of people crossing the street,” Anspacher said.

The Planning Department has released an interactive map at mcatlas.org/purple, although it does not display on all Web browsers. The map shows the proposed route of the Purple Line and information about recommendations from the Planning Board for different sites.