In an analysis released in 2008, state officials estimated that the line would require condemning a dozen houses and apartment buildings and 16 to 19 businesses. Although that analysis noted the need for “strip acquisition” of other adjacent parcels, it did not give a total number of properties affected.
MTA officials said they discovered more affected properties, particularly in the Riverdale area, after they did more detailed engineering.
“To the extent we can minimize [the affected properties] as we go along further in the project, we will,” said Henry Kay, who oversees transit projects for the MTA.
But which homes, businesses and yards are being eyed for condemnation remains mostly unknown. MTA officials declined to release the information, saying it includes property value estimates that could become part of future negotiations. According to the state, construction won’t begin until 2015 at the earliest.
Kay said the list will remain in flux during the next year of preliminary engineering, while the route — and the properties it would affect — continues to be refined.
Publicizing a list before then “gets people concerned needlessly because it can change the next day,” Kay said. “There’s nothing to hide here, but until it’s really a fixed list, we’re not going to go out and notify every one of those people.”
Kay said the MTA has notified property owners whose land or buildings can’t be avoided. But homeowner groups and local officials along the route said they need more information.
“It creates a lot of hysteria for people, who naturally are very concerned,” said Montgomery County Council member Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring), whose district is in part of the proposed route. “We don’t have any information to say these homes on this street are going to be taken. They should tell people as soon as possible so people can make decisions.”
Phil MacWilliams, president of the Coquelin Run Citizens Association in Chevy Chase, said the MTA should release the addresses while there’s still time to make significant changes to the line.
“In our community, there are at least 40 homes along the [Purple Line] right of way,” MacWilliams said. “Everyone is very concerned whether they’re in the cross hairs of the Purple Line.”
State transit planners included higher community impact numbers to the Federal Transit Administration in August as part of their ongoing application for federal funding. Kay said the report, which listed 322 affected properties (the number has since risen), was posted on the state’s Web site in October, after the FTA granted permission to proceed with more engineering. The state is seeking federal money for half of the line’s construction costs, estimated at $1.93 billion.