The Purple Line Lives
Remember the Purple Line? Or, as Maryland officials call it, the Bi-County Transitway? It's a proposed rail connection that would run 14 miles from Bethesda to New Carrolton. Proponents say it would provide a critical link between the Maryland burbs and take traffic off the overtaxed Beltway. It's been on the back of the back burner for the last few years, as Maryland has put all its efforts into building the ICC.
A coalition in favor of building the Purple Line announced today that it will try to revive interest in the rail link by holding three rallies this week "to dramatize the urgent need for the Purple Line as gas prices hover around three dollars a gallon."
The rallies will be Wednesday from 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. at 9510 Georgia Avenue; Thursday from noon to 12:30 p.m. at the plaza at One Bethesda Metro Center; and Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. at 8500 Connecticut Avenue.
State officials have said they remain committed to the Purple Line. A couple weeks ago, Jack Cahalan, spokesman for Maryland Transportation Secretary Bob Flanagan, assured me in an e-mail that planning for the Purple Line is still "very active." Cahalan was responding to an online chat I had in which I said that "Maryland has gone all highway all the time in the last couple of years and while studies of the Purple Line and other transit extensions continue, there seems to be little actual momentum to build them."
Cahalan wrote that "as you know so well, you don't snap your fingers and bring out the guys in the hard hats. You plan the project, address issues, design it and acquire the necessary funding...then bring out the hard hats."
That's true. But it's also true that by going all out for the last three-plus years the Ehrlich administration has been able to bring us to the brink of building the $2.4 billion ICC, which had stalled for the previous, oh, 40 some years. So yes a lot has to happen before you bring out the hard hats, but the folks in Maryland have shown that they can make it happen for a project if they want to.
The state is holding four informational open houses in June about the Purple Line. They are: at the Holiday Inn at 8777 George Avenue in Silver Spring on June 12; Langley Park Community Center at 1500 Merrimac Drive on June 14; Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School at 4301 East-West Highway on June 19; and at the College Park Municipal Center at 4500 Knox Road on June 21. All of the open houses start at 4 p.m. and run until 8 p.m.
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