Edwards said she is not concerned about the noise of passing trains as much as the constant “hum” from the power substation and its ugly appearance. Four Silver Spring civic and homeowner groups are now fighting it, she said.
Madden said the 20 substations must be spaced about every mile along the route. Three would be in residential areas, and four others would be on vacant land or in woods that might be close to homes.
“They can be made to fit into whatever environment is there,” Madden said.
Although some residents have voiced concerns about possible health effects from the power substations, Madden said, “they have no impact at all to someone’s health.”
If a Purple Line is built, visitors to downtown Bethesda would see a 90-foot-tall ventilation tower near the Landmark Bethesda Row Cinema. The tower would hold equipment to ventilate a tunnel beneath the nearby Apex Building, where a Purple Line station would be, near Wisconsin Avenue and Elm Street.
Madden said transit system vents must be elevated because of federal homeland security requirements following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. If the Apex Building is redeveloped, the ventilation system could be incorporated into a new building, Madden said.
In Prince George’s County, residents near a proposed Purple Line train maintenance yard in Riverdale have voiced few objections.
Lisa Davila-Steele, president of the Roswil Homeowners Association, said her neighbors’ eagerness for better transit and new development outweigh concerns about living next to a maintenance yard.
A Purple Line facility would replace a parks department vehicle maintenance center there now. State transit planners have assured residents they would hear “little to no noise” because train repairs would be done inside buildings, she said.
“From our view, it’s just changing tenants,” Davila-Steele said.
And what about those Wayne Avenue residents facing the double whammy of losing parts of their front yards to a transitway and living next to a power substation?
Joseph Suntum, a Rockville lawyer who focuses on eminent domain cases, said they might be the fortunate ones. People who lose any land to a public project are entitled to be compensated if their remaining property also has lost value, he said. Those who don’t lose any property are entitled only to financial compensation if a project’s impact on them is significantly worse than on their neighbors, Suntum said.
That might end up being a question for the courts — and a topic of increasing interest.
“People [first] look at, ‘Where’s the route? Where are the tracks going to be?’ ” Suntum said. “All of the collateral infrastructure is not necessarily something people are focusing on now.”
The public comment period on the Purple Line’s final environmental impact study ends Oct. 7. It is available at public libraries and at www.purplelinemd.com. Chapters 2 and 4 provide the most detail on neighborhood impacts.