Thursday, March 20, 2014

pieces fall into place to build the purple line

The Federal Transit Administration has just issued a Record of Decision for the Purple Line, basically approving the 16-mile light rail line between Bethesda and New Carrollton. It's one of the last pieces needed to build the line, which is scheduled to break ground next year and open in 2020.

This just got one stop closer to reality. Image from Montgomery County.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

"drive 'til you qualify" takes on an urban flair

There's far more demand for housing in the DC area than supply, especially in urban, walkable neighborhoods. When enough new homes aren't being built close in, the region sprawls further out. In response, new developments on the fringes are adopting urban qualities.

Looking Down Apricot Street
View from a porch in Embrey Mill. All photos by the author.

In the Before & After Cafe on Apricot Street one recent Saturday, craft beer was on the menu and the soundtrack included Modest Mouse and Death Cab for Cutie. Outside, light snow fell on a deck with brightly colored Adirondack chairs and an edible garden. Across the street were smart-looking rowhouses and craftsman-style houses with ample porches.

This could be a scene in a trendy inside-the-Beltway neighborhood like Brookland or Del Ray. Except the cafe's empty, the street dead-ends a few blocks away, and the blue water tower overlooking it all says "Stafford, Virginia." This is Embrey Mill, a new planned community being built 60 miles south of DC that promises "a comfortable place at the end of your commute focused on creating a simpler, better way to live."

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

purple line gets a boost from president obama's budget

Yesterday, the Purple Line took a big step forward when the federal government recommended giving it a $100 million grant for next year and providing additional funding in the coming years.

Image from the Maryland Transit Administration.

President Obama included the $2.2 billion, 16-mile light rail line between Bethesda and New Carrollton in his 2015 budget. It's one of 7 transit projects the Federal Transit Administration recommended for a "New Starts" grant, including the Baltimore Red Line, an extension of Los Angeles' Purple Line, Boston's Green Line extension, the Columbia River Crossing in Portland, and commuter rail lines in Orlando and Fort Worth.

The agency also recommended Congress give the Purple Line a "full funding grant agreement" committing it to help pay for construction. Maryland hopes the federal government will provide $900 million, though it's unclear what the final amount will be.