The project has been delayed for years while the state negotiated the acquisition of the 1.2 acres of land it needs to build the facility. A year ago, the state filed to acquire the site through eminent domain, and with a court date approaching, the state says it is nearing an agreement that would end more than five years of negotiations with the landowner.
When the project is complete, it will be another link in the region’s effort to create more functional transit hubs, with easy connections to work and commercial centers.
Just three miles from Langley Park, Montgomery County has been building a massive transit center in downtown Silver Spring to serve buses, Metrorail and MARC trains. That project, though, has also been delayed and has been plagued by controversy. More than three years behind the original construction schedule, it is now slated to open in September.
In Langley Park, the new transit center is planned for the site of a Taco Bell in the Langley Park Shopping Center, at the intersection of University Boulevard and New Hampshire Avenue. The Takoma/Langley Park Transit Center will be surrounded by a hub of commercial activity, with several discount stores and ethnic restaurants nearby.
The shopping center’s landowner, Land Fair Properties, LLC, resisted the project for years because the owner felt the transit center was “going to dramatically and adversely impact his property,” said Land Fair’s attorney, Joseph P. Suntum of the firm Miller, Miller & Canby. He said the owner is concerned the project will threaten the viability of the shopping center by reducing parking and clogging the shopping center with bus traffic.
Local and state officials, however, say the transit center will improve traffic and pedestrian safety at the intersection, which sits just across the border from Montgomery County.
“I don’t know why anybody will be against this project,” said Prince George’s Council member William A. Campos (D-Hyattsville), who represents Langley Park. “They just kept haggling and haggling and haggling.”
The transit center was envisioned more than a decade ago as a central station for buses, where commuters could transfer instead of having to cross dangerous six-lane roads to catch their bus.
“The goal is safety, safety, safety,” said Jim Miller, the project manager with the Maryland Transit Administration. “By getting the buses off the street, we open up some of the street lanes better for the roadway functions, and it gets people off the street so they can get off one bus and on to another bus without having to cut through traffic.”
With 12 bus bays to accommodate 11 Metro and local commuter bus routes, the transit center is projected to have 12,000 passengers boarding buses on a typical weekday, state officials say.