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New Transit and Transportation Projects Announced in Montgomery

2013-08-05

Gov. Martin O'Malley stopped by the Bethesda Metro station Monday afternoon to announce the state's recent allocation of about $400 million to construct the Purple Line light rail from Bethesda to New Carrollton.

The $400 million joins previously allocated state funds, "bringing the total state money spent or budgeted to more than $900 million. With federal funding anticipated around $900 million, this means that most of the local share of the project's cost is already in place," Action Committee for Transit reported on its website.

To build and operate the Purple Line, "Maryland will seek a private company ... marking the first time the state has used such financing [a public-private partnership] on a public transit project," The Washington Post reported.

Accompanying the governor on Monday were Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and other elected officials.

Both Purple Line supporters and opponents of building the rail line along the Capital Crescent Trail (which follows an abandoned railroad track) demonstrated with signs, t-shirts and purple habedashery to make their views visible to the governor.

"I'm very happy with the turnout," Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail President Ajay Bhatt said.

Despite the governor's announcement, "we're not done fighting" the construction of the Purple Line along the route of the trail. Bhatt said. When the required environmental impact statement comes out, the loss of 20 acres of mature trees inside the Capital Beltway to build the rail line will not be able to go unnoticed, he added.

But others say the Purple Line is a good thing for the region. Legget stressed that construction of the Purple Line (which is expected to start in 2015) will bring 100,000 jobs (many of them construction) to the area.

Dan Reed, land use chair for the Action Committee for Transit, added that the general plan to reconstruct the Capital Crescent Trail alongside the Purple Line will enable people to bike from Silver Spring to Bethesda.

Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail say that reconstructing the trail next to the Purple Line is not a solution, as the reconstructed trail will not have the same amount of shade that the trail currently has.

And, many maintain that the state cannot afford to build the Purple Line at this time.

"We absolutely cannot afford it," Chevy Chase resident Jim Roy, who helped distribute "Save the Trail" signs before the governor's announcement, said.

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