Tuesday, October 9, 2007

stops, starts at purple line focus group

WHAT'S UP THE PIKE: Laurel set to become the new Bethesda; Ike Leggett seeks business opportunities in the Promised Land.

NEXT STOP, HARRY POTTER: A new Silver Spring Library could straddle the Purple Line, says MTA officials at a focus group held last night at the current library. Check out coverage of an earlier Purple Line focus group in Bethesda at Maryland Politics Watch.

Skeptical residents filled the basement of the Silver Spring Library last night to attend a focus group for the proposed Purple Line held by the Maryland Transportation Authority, which unveiled new routes in Downtown for the controversial transitway between Bethesda and New Carrollton.

"I want to hear somebody who's in favor of it tell me why they think it should be built," says Pershing Drive resident Vicki Warren, who lives a block away from the proposed Wayne Avenue alignment.

For nearly two hours, project coordinator Mike Madden, consultant Harriet Levine and lead engineer Joe Romanowski listened to concerns about traffic, property impacts and the cost-effectiveness ratings that will determine if the project receives Federal funding in 2009. The MTA representatives also presented the three remaining route options through Downtown Silver Spring - at-grade on Wayne Avenue or Bonifant Street and a tunnel beneath Silver Spring Avenue.

so much more AFTER THE JUMP . . .

Purple Line project coordinator Mike Madden discusses route options through Downtown Silver Spring.

While MTA officials denied their preference for a single alignment, discussion focused on the Bonifant Street option, which would take two lanes for transit and only allow one-way traffic on Bonifant between Ramsey Avenue and Fenton Street. A stop would be located at a new Silver Spring Library at Bonifant and Fenton, which would straddle the transitway as it swung north to Wayne Avenue.

Several alignments originally under consideration - including one along Sligo Avenue that JUTP toured last summer - were dropped earlier this year.

Jane, who asked that her last name not be given, may have a tunnel under her Grove Street home if the Silver Spring Avenue alignment is chosen. "I'd rather not have it in our neighborhood," she says, "but I don't want to be a NIMBY, so I'd like it to be in a deep tunnel."

"I'm for the Purple Line," adds Jane, a member of the East Silver Spring Civic Association. "I just don't want it to destroy property and businesses."

Many residents questioned if the Purple Line would reduce traffic Downtown, even laughing when MTA officials quoted studies that said most intersections in the business district would fail by 2030. "You've got problems discouraging people from coming to our new downtown," laments one resident. "I don't feel you can afford to remove lanes on Wayne [Avenue] without damaging traffic movements throughout the downtown."

While congestion would not necessarily improve, the Purple Line would prevent it from deteriorating further, responds Madden. "We're not out in the boonies here. We're in an urban area. Traffic is going to get worse," he states.

Despite the continuing opposition of the Town of Chevy Chase and other communities to the project, residents across the study area are warming up to the Purple Line. "I think there's a fair amount of skepticism," says Mike Madden. "We're also seeing a number of the public who are saying 'this is not a bad idea'."

Without quality examples of light rail in the region, residents have a hard time grasping what the Purple Line will feel like. "The average person has really not seen a good light rail line" like those in Portland, Oregon or Salt Lake City, says Harry Sanders of Action Committee for Transit, an advocacy group for transit in Montgomery County. "I think that does hurt."

As a result, public education remains a high priority for the State, explaining the need for focus groups and other meetings. "There's . . . some misunderstanding about how the project would fit in with the community," adds Madden.

26 comments:

Nancy said...

A station means rezoning for "transit-oriented development." Any home, tree, small apartment building, or small business -- for blocks around --would become bulldozer bait. Developers want to tear down 1/3 of the small-scale, beautiful, tree-friendly middle-class Falkland Apts. for a high-priced high-rise because it's near the Metro station. A Purple Line stop would drag this destruction into East Silver Spring.

WashingtonGardener said...

I hope to see fellow Purple Line supporters at the Oct 10 Purple Line Now benefit. Info at: purplelinenow.com. I'll be there volunteering - running around in a purple apron :-)

It is time we all started looking at the big picture. Light rail is our best option to unite the MC-PG MD suburbs and relieve beltway traffic, metro overcrowding, and neighborhood cut-thru trips.

Glen E said...

Oh, yes, I definitely agree we should be looking at the big picture, which is why the push for the Purple Lie (a deliberate typo, mind you) is so wrong-headed. Looking forward to 2030, as the MTA folks say they are doing, this light-rail system that is being proposed is a waste of funds that would be better spent connecting the ends of the metro system with heavy rail.

People want a TRUE Purple Line--one that matches the Red and Green lines that they use now, not some glorified bus line that bifurcates neighborhoods and increases traffic congestion.

I was fooled once into supporting PurpleLineNow by their misleading graphic that overlays a purple line on the red and green lines of the metro map. That right there is a dead giveaway that something isn't right, if the people who support it use misleading graphics and names (calling it a Purple Line instead of something that reflects its actual nature).

Anonymous said...

Trees will be bundosed in the process of building a better commuter system. If you want to take cars off the road and promote public transportation, then maybe a trees will have to be destroyed. Its for the better good. Its the environmental thing to do.

Nancy said...

It's NOT about relieving traffic, it's about making way for future population growth. Population growth that is NOT coming from neighborhoods in the bulldozer's path. Furthermore, I saw officials from both Md. Transit Admin. and State Highway Admin. in the same room at the same time state that Purple Line and Beltway widening plan are not substitutes for each other. Some Purple Line support comes from people who somehow think it would ward bulldozers off from their neighborhood. Might as well buy garlic!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Trees will be bundosed in the process of building a better commuter system. If you want to take cars off the road and promote public transportation, then maybe a trees will have to be destroyed. Its for the better good. Its the environmental thing to do.

October 09, 2007 11:10 AM

RE: Your not going to take cars off the road by building a cheap light rail, thats for sure....

The only thing it will do is replace existing bus routes and get the same people who ride the bus system that don't have cars.

If you really want to get cars off the roads Move More than half the Corporate Employment HQ's out of Virginia and plant them in Maryland near the Existing Subway and MARC Commuter Rail Stations......

mcknif said...

Anon- youare absolutely right move the HQs closer to where their employees work.

After work hours- how busy will the Purple Line be? The daily riders will be the same ones that are riding the buses today and the car drivers will still be driving cars.

b said...

After living in Europe for 23 years I am familiar with light rail and welcome it to the DC area. I am a non-driver by conscience and choice. I support new public transit lines over roads. Build it and I will ride it.

Anonymous said...

These anti-Purple Line NIMBYs make me so sad. If global warming fries our planet, NIMBYism will be one of the biggest reasons why.

Elliot said...

It should first be stated that the goal of the purple line is to not move people from place to place, but to benefit developers who are planning high-rise condos and town centers near each stop. In other words, their goal is to turn Silver Spring into Bethesda. Mike Madden even said that it will not take cars off of the road. That said, a name should be given to the organizations pushing the purple line, how about "Park Destroying Developer Bullies" (PDDB's). If the Thayer Avenue route is selected, an acre of Sligo Creek Park will be destroyed. It should also be mentioned that the train will tunnel in back of ESS Elementary school, posing a safety hazard. More info at http://www.sstop.org

b said...

but seeing how Sligo Creek Park has been "tagged", we would be infringing on gang teritory, and that's good, right?

Anonymous said...

b said...

After living in Europe for 23 years I am familiar with light rail and welcome it to the DC area. I am a non-driver by conscience and choice. I support new public transit lines over roads. Build it and I will ride it.

October 09, 2007 4:52 PM

RE: Speak for ONLY Yourself, because that tired argument has been drilled into the ground since they built the Subway Lines in Maryland back in the 70's and it still ain't take cars off the roads......

But yet Atlanta, Georgia has Twice as much Highway capacity than DC/MD and doesn't rank in the top 5 worst Metro areas for Heavy Traffic like DC/MD area and the DC area have the top 5 highest spending for Mass Transit in the Country..........

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

These anti-Purple Line NIMBYs make me so sad. If global warming fries our planet, NIMBYism will be one of the biggest reasons why.

October 09, 2007 8:24 PM

But yet you are anti-Highways for Maryland, so what does that make yo.................

Park Friend said...

NIMBY's and global warming? I suggest you take a walk through the neighborhoods that are targeted for the routes. Count the trees, nests, animal tracks, bedding, plants and more that will be impacted. Walk with a Friends of Sligo Creek member who can educate you about the negative impact to the creek with erosion and run off when a train or two destroys the area.

silverspringtrails said...

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and the Sierra Club of Montgomery County have some credibility regarding how the Purple Line will impact our environment. They are among the event hosts for tonight's Purple Line Now fundraiser at Takoma College, see www.purplelinenow.org

Perhaps these groups are looking at the whole environment instead of seeing only very small part of Sligo Creek, and conclude we need more transit alternatives like light-rail to save the environment and help air quality?

mcknif said...

What if the State and the Federal government worked together and provide funding for a monorail or similar system from Prince Georges to Montgomery.

It can be built over the Beltway--no right of way problems, no eminemt domain problems--people would ride for the novelty, it would even be a tourist attraction.

There can a bus running from a number of spokes that would feed into the system- I know there are doubters and some wrinkles to be ironed out but it would be environmentally sound and would not cause a major upheaval of neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...

After work hours- how busy will the Purple Line be?

The Purple Line will connect downtown Bethesda, downtown Silver Spring, and the Maryland campus. At Bethesda today, the number of riders entering the Metro Saturday night is half of what it is on a weekday morning.

All-day traffic is one of the big advantages of the Purple Line route. To get it, you have to connect centers of activity - which means that you run past existing homes, some of whose residents like things as they are.

b said...

We have to face the fact that every year this area must process more commuters. Eventually both roads and public transit will have to compromise sacred ground to keep up with commuter demand. We could go for zero growth and put up a wall around the beltway like Berlin, but even that will take out a tree or two.

rd said...

ZING! -> "The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and the Sierra Club of Montgomery County have some credibility regarding how the Purple Line will impact our environment."

I COULDN'T AGREE MORE. It's really sad that so many ignorant people (mostly NIMBYs) keep saying we have to protect the Rock Creek Old Growth Forest and not create better mass transit.

Brian White said...

I don't understand why some people are blasting developers for wanting to build more high density construction around transit stops. What's the problem with that? It's immensely beneficial to the environment. Residents of high density urban environments like NYC have a much smaller carbon footprint than residents of low-density suburbs. High rise development near transit is always better for the environment - on the large scale - than low density single family homes and garden style apartment buildings. I don't favor government getting involved in mandating "smart growth" but I certainly applaud private enterprise doing that kind of construction. If the presence of transit suddenly means that 25 times more people want to live on the same little patch of land, then excellent, that's how you reduce sprawl.

On the heavy rail line idea - that is an excellent point. It would be nice if Metro took over this purple line. However, given the financial straits they're in and given how leveraged they are due to the Dulles expansion, I don't see them being interested anytime in the next 5 years, which is too long to wait. I would actually prefer Metro to plow more money into system maintenance right now than into line extension.

As to Metro in Maryland not taking cars off the road - huh? Have you ridden the Green and Red lines? Do you see all those people? If they weren't on Metro they would be on the roads. Now the total cars in the area may have still increased, but that's due to metropolitan area population growth, the migration of people from DC to the suburbs, and rising affluence which has turned one car families into 3 or 4 car families.

Anonymous said...

The Purple Line won't take any cars off the Beltway, that's for sure. It's only a hour ride to Silver Spring from Rockville, a 10-minute shortcut isn't worth $3 billion. What we need is HOT lanes on the Beltway which would allow express buses to connect Grovesnor with Forest Glen with Greenbelt and New Carrollton. These buses would be a free transfer for Metro patrons and would shave more time than a slow light rail line that stops every half mile and only a fraction of the cost. I'm taking $20 million vs $3 billion.

Brian White said...

Anyonymous - except for the large number of people going to Bethesda or Silver Spring who, right or wrong, simply refuse to ride buses.

Also, since the line would go all the way to New Carrolton, focusing just on Rockville (did you mean Bethesda?) to Silver Spring isn't telling the whole story.

Elliot said...

In the example of NYC, Central Park was preserved as green space, with no trains running under or above it. There isn't much green space left in Silver Spring. Also the notes from the meeting stated that their are 20 proposed purple line stops up from the previous 12. The PDDB (park destroying developer bully) influence cannot be underestimated.

Anonymous said...

Elliot, trains do run under Central Park. The trains that go up Broadway connect to the 63rd street tunnel to Queens.

Silver Spring has much more green space than Manhattan. Think Rock Creek Park, Sligo Park, etc. Chevy Chase has even more.

If we want more green space, putting the Purple Line underground is not the cost-effective way to get it. It would cost less and create far more parkland if we condemned Columbia Country Club and turned it into a state park. We could allow the fairways and greens, now soaked in pesticides, to return to forest land.

Anonymous said...

Brian White said...
Anyonymous - except for the large number of people going to Bethesda or Silver Spring who, right or wrong, simply refuse to ride buses.

Also, since the line would go all the way to New Carrolton, focusing just on Rockville (did you mean Bethesda?) to Silver Spring isn't telling the whole story.

October 10, 2007 2:42 PM

All those people will refuse to ride light rail too. You'll see if this boondoggle ever gets built. It will be dirty, smelly, roudy, and lawless just like the Baltimore one. You're not going to get a bunch of professionals riding in a third-world transit that stops every 5 seconds. This boondoggle will exaccerbate traffic because it will consume money for other east-west transportation needs in Montgomery County and will allow Bethesda developers to build even more which will only exaccerbate traffic congestion. The BRT line from Grovesnor to New Carrolton allows east-west connectivity among the metro spokes for a fraction of the cost.

mcknif said...

We have too many high rises in Silver Spring, Bethesda and Rockville.

Meanwhile the Potomac area of M.C, consist of large homes and open land.

I never hear anyone supporting the widening of River Road,
This whole concept of density in and around the Metro stops is crazy.

You can't raise a family in high rises, they need yards, and space.
It appears that these new condos and townhomes all squeezed into small overcrowded areas are turning us into a country similar to Soylent Green.

There is nothing wrong with sprawl, there is plent wrong with people having to travel to Virginia, D.c. or Bethesda to work and they live elsewhere.

You want Smart Growth, encourage big corporations to move to Prince Georges, Charles County and Howard.

Downtown Silver Spring is nice, but as a person suffering from pulmonary disease, public transportaion does not take me to where I would like to go-I am limited to how far I can walk.

I would like to see someone spend some tome developing Montgomery Hills, Glennmont, and White Oak.

They are acessible and have plenty of parking.