County Council tackles Purple Line issues

Montgomery Council President Roger Berliner (D-1) said the hardest part of building the Purple Line is yet to come.

“The hardest part is now before us,” Berliner said. “And it will be more important than ever that we have open communication with respect to this project.”

The Montgomery County Council Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee met with state transit officials Sept. 28 to discuss the expected disruption and impact from the construction of the Purple Line, a 16- mile light-rail train that will connect Bethesda to the New Carrollton Metro Station. The committee meeting served as an opportunity for state transit officials to answer questions the community has on the Purple Line construction.

Members of the public did not speak at the meeting; rather they submitted questions to the County Council which were asked by Deputy Council Administrator Glenn Orlin.

Charles Lattuca, executive director of transit development and delivery for the Maryland Transit Administration, apologized for the state not giving the promised 30-day notice to residents prior to the beginning of construction, instead giving only gave seven days’ notice before it shut down parts of the Capital Crescent Trail to start construction.

“We’re trying to mitigate as much as possible the construction schedule to deliver the project as close as to the date as we promised,” Lattuca said. While Gov. Larry Hogan signed off on the $5.6 billion contract to build the Purple Line in April, a federal judge held up the project for months. In July a threejudge panel overturned District of Columbia District Court Judge Richard Leon’s decision that prevented construction, and in August officials finally broke ground on the project.

While state transportation officials originally planned for the Purple Line to be finished and operational by 2022, they said it is unclear when the project will be finished.

“It’s been a happy outcome on all fronts,” said Council member George Leventhal (D-at large). “Governor Hogan came around to the right decision, the court system has not ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and the Trump Administration has come around to supporting the project, but each of those decision points was entirely uncertain and once they were all resolved it was necessary to move ahead expeditiously to avoid further enormous costs to the public.”

An expedited process was one of the main themes of last Thursday committee meeting. Council members Leventhal, Berliner and Nancy Floreen (D-at large) each warned that the construction of the Purple Line is going to inconvenience residents and interrupt everyday life for residents in Bethesda, Silver Spring or anywhere along the planned route.

Project manager Robert Chappell, CEO of Purple Line Transit Partners, the public-private partnership that is building the light-rail line, said residents would receive a seven-day notice before construction or road closures, angering some residents who said they have not gotten enough advanced notice from the MTA or Purple Line Transit Partners about construction.

“At the end of the day, I think what we need to do is rip the bandage off and get it done,” Floreen said. “And the faster we can get it done the less disruption to the community.”


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