Thursday, January 8, 2009

purple line hearing hits planning place

The Fortress of Planning.

While Virginia's celebrating the final approval of the Silver Line to Dulles Airport, the Purple Line fight continues in Maryland as the Planning Board holds a hearing today at 2pm for the controversial sixteen-mile transitway between Bethesda and New Carrollton. The lists to speak and to give written testimony have both been closed, but it's still worth coming out to see what Maryland Politics Watch's Adam Pagnucco calls "an all-out cultural and economic conflict," between some of the wealthiest and poorest neighborhoods in the region, all of which could find themselves connected by the Purple Line.

Last month, planning department staff endorsed using light-rail and routing portions of the sixteen-mile line along the Capital Crescent Trail between Bethesda and Silver Spring and down the middle of Wayne Avenue between Fenton Street and Flower Avenue. The Planning Board's recommendation will be sent to the Montgomery County Council, who with the Prince George's County Council make their suggestions in the spring. Governor Martin O'Malley, will make the final decision. A light-rail Purple Line has already been endorsed by the Washington Post twice, in November and this week.

Opposition to the project has been building in Chevy Chase, East Silver Spring and even Langley Park, where civic activist (and my former urban planning professor) Bill Hanna says it'll "destroy" the working-class immigrant neighborhood. It's also been under fire from County Councilmember Marc Elrich, who prefers Bus Rapid Transit to light-rail and has drafted a county-wide BRT plan that incorporates the Purple Line. The so-called "Elrich Plan" has been mentioned in a couple of letters to the Gazette, suggesting that the councilmember's proposal has caused an insurrection - though he does tell today's Post that he will vote for light-rail in a show of solidarity with his colleagues.

1 comment:

Thomas Hardman said...

There's no reason at all that Mr Elrich can't get both the Purple Line and Bus Rapid Transit. Indeed, the Purple Line will practically require it.