Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007

Open forum: Alternative Purple Line routes

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Ricardo Dent suggests we should sacrifice thousands of mature trees and a popular trail (with 10,000 uses a week) for mass transit (‘‘Build Purple Line: Orioles, pedestrians may depend on it,” July 18 letter).

But we don’t have to make this draconian sacrifice to have transit. There are superior alternative routes for the Purple Line that we don’t hear about because developers financing the constant push for the Purple Line do not want them.

Why don’t they want them? Because alternative routes will not result in a transit station on Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase, where developers want to increase density and create another Friendship Heights.

Two alternatives are, either: (1) Tunnel a Metro line (not a light rail) between Bethesda and Silver Spring, or (2) Construct Metrorail along the Beltway between Silver Spring and the Bethesda Medical Center Metro — where Walter Reed will be bringing thousands more staff, patients and visitors to Bethesda Naval Hospital daily. This proposal — made by Doug Duncan five years ago and known as the Metro Purple Line Loop — should be considered in light of Walter Reed’s impending move.

Both of these alternatives will: (1) garner more ridership than a light rail, (2) enhance the Metro system and its ability to expand, and (3) improve national security and Metro’s ability to flexibly evacuate DC by Metro in emergencies. Neither of these alternatives destroys the irreplaceable trees and natural green space provided by the Capital Crescent Trail.

These are win-win transit solutions for commuters and the environment that will garner the widespread community support necessary to win federal funding.

Pam Browning, Chevy Chase

The writer is organizer of Save the Trail Petition.Org.