Plenty of reasons not to build Purple Line

Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2007

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Isaac Hantman, Bethesda

The writer is a member of the boards of the Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail and the Greater Bethesda Chevy Chase Coalition.

Why oppose the Purple Line? Kathy Jentz, a board member of Action Committee for Transit, asks in her Jan. 10 letter. Here’s a short list:

*The Purple Line will not take cars off the road or alleviate congestion but it will use up scarce transit resources.

*It will condemn many affordably priced homes all along the route and ruin portions of those that remain.

*It brings danger, loud noise and vibration 20 hours a day.

*It will bring visual ugliness, divide and destroy neighborhoods and thousands of trees along the Capital Crescent Trail.

*It is not as good or cost-beneficial a transportation project as is the Corridor Cities Transitway project supported by ACT, which should be built.

*Despite the named color ‘‘purple,” the line will not be run by Metro but by the MD MTA.

*It will be adjacent to Metro, Marc and CSX in Silver Spring. All have safety problems.

*It will not be underground and fast but on traffic-jammed surface streets as Jones Bridge, Thayer, Sligo or Silver Spring avenues and thus slow.

*To reduce cost it likely will not use over⁄under passes at Connecticut, Georgia, Jones Mill and other major crossings so it will be even slower.

*It will demolish a many small businesses and affordable homes in Silver Spring, Chevy Chase and elsewhere.

*It may take park and school land in East Silver Spring.

*Devlopers will buy up hundreds, perhaps thousands of existing affordable properties and replace them with high rise, high cost, office towers and unaffordable condo apartments in Takoma Park, Chevy Chase Lake, Langley Park and elsewhere.

*It will take portions of many home properties in Lyttonsville, Silver Spring and elsewhere along the route.

*It will divide neighborhoods in Silver Spring, Bethesda and elsewhere.

*It will be dangerously close to a Bethesda day care center, East Silver Spring Elementary and only 8 feet or so from thousands of hikers, bikers, walkers and joggers on the Capital Crescent Trail.

*It will require about a 55-foot wide clear cut of thousands of trees lining the CCT for several miles thus destroying its peaceful, shady, quiet, parklike setting.

*It will be costly. The elevator to the Bethesda Metro alone is estimated by planners to cost $50 million.

*It likely will require time consuming transfers to Metro and possibly use of multiple fare cards. So it will not attract many riders, most of whom will be forced onto it by the elimination of their current bus routes.

If the Purple Line were underground many of these problems would be mitigated or eliminated but the MTA is not studying any underground route with the possible exception of very short distances in some areas.

On the other hand the planned Corridor Cities Transitway from Shady Grove to Germantown has none of these problems, has a better cost benefit ratio, will relieve more congestion, reduce more air pollution, reduce more global warming gasses, provide more ridership over longer distances, run at high speeds in the Interstate 270 area, not take land from current homes and businesses, is not controversial, has no organized opposition and should have been built yesterday.