MONDAY: Who'll be riding the Purple Line? Do they know it's coming? Check out part TWO of our fundraiser coverage.
Purple Line Now! debuted its new name at a fundraiser last night at the Montgomery College Student Services Center.
With a new name and a new focus, Purple Line Now! - formerly called the Coalition to Build the Inner Purple Line - made its debut at a fundraiser held last night at the Montgomery College Student Services Center in South Silver Spring.
Hundreds of supporters for the controversial proposed transitway between Bethesda and New Carrollton came out to enjoy music from local jazz artist Marcus Johnson - who played at last month's Silver Spring Jazz Festival - and hear speakers including Comptroller Peter Franchot (D), Jos Williams of the Metropolitan Washington AFL-CIO, and environmental activist Mike Tidwell.
"I know there are many times when I drove to Bethesda when I would've loved to take the Purple Line," says Tidwell, author of The Ravaging Tide, a book about the effects of climate change. "As someone who takes 94 degrees [on Monday] seriously, I support the Purple Line."
so much more AFTER THE JUMP . . .
Jazz artist Marcus Johnson, County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin and developer Bruce Lee pose for a picture.
The evening's guest list that read like a Who's Who of local movers and shakers. Former Planning Board Chairman Derick Berlage nervously worked the room. County Councilman George Leventhal (D-At Large) networked alongside his wife and son. Bruce Lee of the Lee Development Group, - which plans to build a Fillmore music hall on Colesville Road - schmoozed with Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring), who brought her entire staff.
Ervin, a resident of Sligo Park Hills - one of many neighborhoods the Purple Line could pass through if built - was unafraid to express her support for the project. "I'd like to see an alignment that puts us in the best position to get built," she says. "The at-grade alignment makes the most sense."
State Delegate Jacqueline Peña-Melnyk (D-Dist. 21), one of a handful of representatives from Prince George's County, insisted that her county was fully in support of the Purple Line. "We want it yesterday," she says. "It's actually on the priority list in the Prince George's County Council. The ICC is not a priority."
The Purple Line would be a boon for the University of Maryland, which lies in her district. "We need to focus on mass transit, especially in the College Park area," Peña-Melnyk states. "It would be terrific for those students in Montgomery County to take transit [to school]."
State Comptroller Peter Franchot and Congressman Al Wynn share a funny with a raft of elected officials.
While idealism and good tidings fueled by an open bar dominated the evening, the issue of funding for the Purple Line hung over the event like a rain cloud. The project needs $600 million to get built - money that will come not only from limited Federal funding but Maryland's Transportation Trust Fund as well.
"The big issue is will everyone in this room support a gas tax increase to get this money [for the Purple Line]," says Councilwoman Nancy Floreen (D-At Large).
The Purple Line's found support in some unexpected - or not so unexpected places - as noted by Lon Anderson of the American Automobile Association, a go-to expert for local news reports about the region's horrible traffic.
"We need both a healthy mass transit system and a healthy road system in order to move people in the D.C. area," says Anderson. "My grandmother said 'Washington will rue the day they ended streetcars' . . . I'm glad they're bringing them back."