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Rally to preserve trails along Purple Line

Opponents of running Purple Line light rail trains along a popular bike and walking trail between downtown Bethesda and Silver Spring are planning a 5K race and rally Saturday to show support for the trail.

"We support better public transportation, but we don't believe that we need to destroy the most popular nature trail in the area to accomplish this," said Pam Browning, president of Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail.

Her group said the rail line would require cutting 17 acres of trees and would "destroy" the trail's wooded feel.

Planners for the Maryland Transit Administration have proposed running light rail trains along the trail, which would be rebuilt and paved adjacent to the tracks but separated by a fence. Planners and supporters of a 16-mile Purple Line have said that the trail is the fastest and most direct route between Bethesda and Silver Spring.

Montgomery County bought the strip of land -- an abandoned railroad line -- in 1988 as right-of-way for a trolley line then being considered between Bethesda and Silver Spring. The county turned the land into the Georgetown Branch Trail until such a line could be built. Some trail advocates say a Purple Line would ruin that section, while others say a transit line would ensure that it is eventually paved as an extension of the Capital Crescent Trail.

The trail route is the most controversial part of the state's plans to build a $1.68 billion east-west Purple Line between Bethesda and New Carrollton.

Saturday's run begins at 9 a.m. in Elm Street Park, 4601 Willow Lane in Chevy Chase, followed by a 10 a.m. "free community walk and bike."

-- Katherine Shaver

By Washington Post Editors  |  May 27, 2010; 12:40 PM ET
Categories:  Events , transit  
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The original rail that ran along the Trail was a one-track, once-a-day, slow-moving hauling train. The surrounding residential neighborhood and that train developed on a modest scale, proportional and appropriate for a pedestrian-friendly family neighborhood. The proposed Purple Line would be a two track, speeding by every 3 minutes, plus a small, barren, paved Trail - all in the same place as the one previous train!!! How is ruining the shaded oasis of the most heavily used local Trail and destroying the bordering 50 - 100 year old pedestrian neighborhoods Smart Growth? The fastest and most direct route is not the bottom line. There are other routes, such as along side the Beltway, that Mike Madden of the MTA is ignoring.

Posted by: 3suns1 | May 27, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

There are also express bus lines like the J1 and J4 that nobody seems interested in. I wish Madden would see about extending the service for those lines (which only run during rush hour now) before he destroys this incredible green space -- especially given the state of Maryland's budget. But wait, that wouldn't help developers.

Posted by: PeggyH1 | May 27, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I couldn't agree more with the previous poster. There are a lot of people who use the trail east of Bethesda frequently, who probably haven't fully considered what the trail will be like after the Purple Line is built. It will not be like the paved portion of the trail that runs from downtown Bethesda into D.C. -- trees continue to shade that portion of the trail and there is a clear separation from traffic. The Purple Line will necessitate cutting down all the trees that currently provide such a wonderful escape from the urban surroundings and the sun/heat. After the Purple Line is built, we will have nothing more than a paved sidewalk next to a set of (busy!) train tracks, fully exposed to the sun and none of the park-like atmosphere we currently enjoy. Trail Users, this weekend is your chance to show support for the Trail -- please come to the events in Elm Street Park on Saturday morning!

Posted by: KD15 | May 27, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Boo hoo. As a downtown Silver Spring resident...START CONSTRUCTION ALREADY!

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | May 27, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

The “Purple Line” plans presented by the Maryland Transit Administration would literally destroy the Region’s most-used linear park between Bethesda, Rock Creek, and Silver Spring, and leave only a narrow unshaded sidewalk that no one would find recreation in using. Also, these plans present points of real danger to the community: It is planned by MTA that a path used by generations of students at Our Lady of Lourdes School and Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School would cross the light rail tracks at grade (by the Riviera Building), with no protection for pedestrians. Also, the proposed MTA continuation of the Trail under Wisconsin Avenue would pass over the tracks and station, using steep ramps that will be exceedingly dangerous for a mix of walkers and bicycles. Other problems exist to the East of Silver Spring. The moral is that you cannot safely shoehorn a transitway into an already settled region.

Posted by: RolfSin | May 27, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

The Purple line is definately not worth $1.68 billion dollars. It is built on false pretenses. The original ridership study showed that it would not take many cars off the road. It acutally only cuts a few minutes off the trip from Univ. Maryland to Bethesda, it will not leave a viable trail due to the choke points at several locations, and even its name is false, the Purple line is not part of the metro system. What we need is a real circumferential metro loop, preferably along the beltway where we have the right of way to complete the loop, and tie into the metro system making metro safer and more redundant.

Let's not waste 1.69 BILLION dollars to move the J4 bus line a 1/4 mile north.

Posted by: reallynow1 | May 27, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

The Purple Line is a costly, development promoting, not transportation serving project. While a circumferential rail link serving the entire metropolitan area is needed, the Purple Line is not it. It's situated in the wrong place, goes to the wrong places and, in tough financial times as these, threatens the Counties' bond ratings and is an unaffordable boondoggle.

Posted by: howiek | May 27, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

If the Purple line is built as proposed, I could not imagine anyone taking children or pets walking/running/biking as I do now with my 2 and 3 year olds and dog. It seems impossible for a 2 way train and a 2 way trail share the space--accidents would be unavoidable.
As this area becomes more urban, preserving this parkland for all is vital to the character of this area and what suburban MD has to offer its residents. This isn't just about Bethesda residents. The Trail is important to all those who choose to commute to work on bike or foot, as well as those throughout the region who use it for leisure and exercise.

Posted by: agmmdc | May 27, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Having walked along Charles Street in New Orleans, I know that streetcars and/or light rail can peacefully coexist with pedestrians in a pleasant setting. Also see Lake Roland in Baltimore. The "save the trail" movement is made up of the same folks who are more concerned about not giving back the part of the fairway that the CC Country Club built on land that was already owned by the state.

Posted by: vtavgjoe | May 27, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Why don't these 5K events to "save" the trail between Bethesda and Silver Spring ever actually go to or from Silver Spring? Because the trail ends two miles shy of Silver Spring. In reality, the project the rallies aim to kill would extend the trail to Silver Spring.

Posted by: silver-e | May 28, 2010 1:10 AM | Report abuse

Last year it was 14 acres. Was that story not selling? Oh, and this year are they going to put ribbons on all the trees and then leave them there for someone else to clean up?

Posted by: cranor | May 28, 2010 1:26 AM | Report abuse

The Saturday race will only be 5K, and will only be on the trail for about 2K of its length. Why such a short race? Because the trail is not finished and they can't get east out of Chevy Chase without crossing a six lane highway at grade. The race is to "save" an unfinished local trail to benefit Chevy Chase residents, who want to keep it as a local walking trail.
The trail will be finished into Silver Spring with the Purple Line, paved, wider than it is now, and with bridges and underpasses at all major roads. When finished, there will be no need for runners to run in a small circle in Chevy Chase - they can go all the way to Rock Creek Park and downtown Silver Spring if they like.
Let's finish this trail!

Posted by: silverspringtrails | May 28, 2010 8:20 AM | Report abuse

I'm a Silver Spring resident, and I enjoy using the trail to commute to work in Crystal City and running on a nice non-paved tree-lined path. Save the Trail!

Posted by: gjjg4dgd | May 29, 2010 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Who designed the route of the Purple Rail through the linear park east of Bethesda? It would destroy the popular park. Next, they will want a rail line running the length of Rock Creek Park.
And who would run a rail line across the middle of the beautiful campus in College Park? What are these people thinking?? Are these people thinking? Or just listening to certain developers?

Posted by: CDavies1 | June 2, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

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