The town of Chevy Chase needs to decide by Friday whether it wants a Purple Line pedestrian crossing near Lynn Drive.
State engineers have drawn several designs for the proposed crossing. The latest one solves some of the town’s concerns, but engineers are now up against a deadline to get information to the groups of companies competing to build the planned $2.2 billion, 16-mile light rail line linking Bethesda and New Carrollton.
A narrow footpath between two houses now connects Lynn Drive with the Capital Crescent Trail’s Georgetown Branch Trail. The town’s Purple Line Mitigation Advisory Group has been meeting with Maryland Transit Administration engineers, trying to work out plans to keep the pathway after the Purple Line is built.
The evening of June 3, the group heard from the engineers about a new option that would run a pedestrian crossing under the tracks about 250 feet southwest of the current path. That crossing could be used by students walking and biking to and from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.
Mary Anne Hoffman, chairwoman of the group, said at the meeting that the state agency’s four or five previous proposals for the crossing were all deemed unworkable for one reason or another. The last of those options put the tracks too high, but the underpass for the crossing cannot be too low, or it could flood.
The new option is about 5 feet shorter than the previous one, according to the engineers. If the crossing is built, pedestrians coming from Lynn Drive could walk down the existing path toward the trail, turn left and walk about 250 feet along a sidewalk to the crossing, go through the underpass, and then walk up ramps to get to the trail or Montgomery Avenue.
If the crossing is not built, the state and the county plan to put a crossing at East West Highway.
The design still has some issues. The path connecting Lynn Drive to the trail is not wheelchair accessible, and the town or the county would have to acquire some property on the opposite side of the trail to build the ramps, according to the state agency. Costs have not yet been determined, but the town may end up paying some of them, said Gary R. Erenrich, special assistant for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to the director of the county’s Department of Transportation.
The state transit agency needs to know by Friday if the town wants it to continue planning for a crossing at Lynn Drive, said Mike Madden, an agency representative, at the meeting. The town can probably put in a “placeholder” request at that time and withdraw its request later if necessary, he said.
The Town Council has a meeting scheduled for Wednesday, but Councilwoman Pat Burda, the council liaison to the board, said it would likely schedule a public hearing before voting, especially knowing that the town may have to pay for part of the construction costs.
“Our community likes to have time to digest things,” she said.