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Governor promises funds for county’s purple line plan

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Published on: Thursday, August 08, 2013

By Donna Broadway

BETHESDA- the purple line is finally a go. After ten years of discussions and negotiations, Governor Martin O’Malley, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, County Executive Leggett, members of the county council, and members of the Montgomery County Delegation announced at the Bethesda Metro on August 5 that $4.4 billion in funding will be dedicated to transportation projects in Maryland, with $1 billion dedicated to projects in Montgomery County.  

Besides the construction of the purple line, $25 million will be dedicated to relocating part of Maryland 97 to Brookeville; $3 million will be investing to widening Maryland 124, $3 million will be used to advance the corridor transportation improvement to Maryland 27 and Maryland 198 in Prince George’s County, $85 million for Montgomery County Ride On bus system, 125 million for the interchange at Watkins Mill, and $100 million to the corridor city transit way in Germantown and Clarksburg, and the majority of funding, $680 million, which is to be divided for $400 million in  funding for construction and $280 million to complete the line's design and purchase remaining property required to lay track for the line, will be dedicated to the building of the purple line. County Council Governor O’Malley said the projects will create 57,000 jobs.

“But over the last few decades, we stopped making the investments necessary to in order to create and build and rebuild the transportation infrastructure we need as a people we need it in order to build and strengthen our middle class, we need it in order to create jobs and facilitate commerce and the failure to make those better decisions had a big cost.,” said Governor O’Malley. “It cost us in terms of time we could have spent with our families that we lost; it cost us in terms of time we could have spent at work that our employers lost; it cost us in terms of damage to our water, land, and air; it cost us in terms of the jobs we could have created and jobs we should have created, jobs that would have been supported had we been making these investments.”

President Nancy Navarro said the county also allocated $100 million in capital improvement plan to build Bethesda south entrance way.

“This has been a collective effort and it is really, really, wonderful to finally be here, not just announcing these amazing investments, but truly announcing this groundbreaking P3,  private, public , partnership solution that has been talked about on the national level. But once again, Maryland leads the nation in making sure we set the example moving forward,” said Councilwoman Navarro.

Councilwoman Valerie Ervin, who said she has been involved in conversations regarding the purple line for ten years, declared she is excited about the project.

“The purple line when it comes to Silver Spring, that begins my district and Brookeville, to Prince George’s county line and that is my district, district 5, and that is the district I represent on council. I have been engaged in the purple line conversation for a decade and we thought it would never happen but it is real, it is happening and the money is coming and we have something to look forward to. It is exciting,” said Councilwoman Ervin.

While the purple line had the support of elected officials, commuters, and construction workers, protestors carrying green signs with a no symbol through the purple line, booed and yelled “save the trail” through out the press conference. The group represents the Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail, an 11-mile train spanning Bethesda and Georgetown, D.C. The protestors argue the Purple Line would bulldoze a three-mile section of the Trail, clear-cut 20 acres of forested park land and replace the trail with sidewalk.

Bob Posner,80, a  volunteer for Save The Trail nonprofit said he  lives 10 minutes from the trail cap and often walks his dog on the trail. He said a sidewalk will not replace the lost trail.

“It’s a natural trail lined by pavement used by hundreds of people, walkers, bicyclists. The loss of this is irreparable and there is no way to replace it. A sidewalk next to a train station is not a trail,” said Posner. “We are concerned that the purple line does not fix congestion. The congestion is at Navy Center and NIH. There the congestion is horrendous, both on the major arteries serving north and south. This does not ease the congestion caused by the number of people working both in the NIH and the medical center. The medical center is planning to construct two new buildings and add 900 parking spaces, which makes it even less likely that will people will prefer to use the purple line.”

The Purple Line will begin in Bethesda and will end at New Carrolton Metro Station in Lanham, Md. The line will include stops in Takoma Park, Lyttonsville, Silver Spring, Manchester Place, Riggs Road, M Square, Piney Branch Rd., and College park. Construction on the Purple could begin as early as 2015.

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