We completely forgot that the Montgomery County Council was voting on whether to endorse the Purple Line today (you know, what with schools being closed and all). In fact, they unanimously decided to push for the Medium Light Rail Transit option, which would use the Capital Crescent Trail between Bethesda and Silver Spring and Wayne Avenue east of Downtown Silver Spring. The following is a press release from Purple Line Now!, the county's leading advocacy group for the transitway:
The Montgomery County Council voted unanimously in support of the Medium Light Rail Transit option for the Purple Line today. The vote is the latest in a string of successes for the project which now has both county councils and county executives on the same page.
The Purple Line was practically given up for dead 6 years ago when the Purple Line Coalition was formed to save it from the axe at the beginning of the administration of Governor Robert Ehrlich.
While Purple Line NOW! takes some credit for saving the project, the true salvation comes in the project's own characteristics. It straddles the boundaries of Maryland's two most populous counties with about 10 stops to be located in each of these, so the political base of support is strong. This was coupled with tremendous ridership projections in comparison with other U.S "new start" proposals. About 65,000 daily trips are projected to be taken each weekday on the Purple Line, with the project removing as many as 20,000 cars from the roads. These facts have resulted in broad and growing support for the project from all over the region.
"This project will be built because it is a poster child for the kind of infrastructure the new Obama administration wants, while being 100% consistent with Maryland's smart growth policies", said Webb Smedley, Chair of Purple Line NOW! The project is also consistent with many Master Plan documents in Prince George's and Montgomery Counties.
Purple Line NOW! will be working with Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary John Porcari and the legislature to ensure that funding for preliminary engineering remains in the budget so that the project can move forward on the most expeditious schedule. The locally preferred alternative will be formally selected this spring, with the approval to move forward into preliminary engineering expected Fall of 2009. The goal remains to being construction in the fall of 2011. "We can maintain this momentum with an administration committed to energy independence, an end to the war in Iraq and a policy in support of an environmentally sustainable and transit oriented economic recovery", said Smedley.