Those who signed the 25-page agreement, which The Washington Post obtained under Maryland’s public records law, are legally prohibited from discussing it publicly.
The 16-mile Purple Line, which would run between Bethesda in Montgomery County and New Carrollton in Prince George’s County, is designed to provide faster and more-reliable east-west transit than buses and connect Maryland’s spokes of the Metrorail system with neighborhoods, MARC commuter rail stations and Amtrak stations.
The light-rail line does not have full construction funding, but state officials are preparing to seek private investors as they compete for federal aid. If construction begins in 2015, the line could open in 2020.
The country club’s opposition to an east-west transitway dates back decades as plans have long called for trolleys or trains to bisect the golf course west of Connecticut Avenue and north of East-West Highway. Trains would run along what is now the wooded Georgetown Branch running and biking trail, which crosses the golf course separated by a chain-link fence and mature trees. Under current plans, two-car Purple Line trains would run through the golf course 70 times a day.
Moving the proposed light-rail line about 12 feet to the north for 1,700 feet through the club’s 100-year-old golf course would help protect clubhouse views and spare four holes, according to the agreement and state documents. Other concessions include a one-year limit for construction vehicles to use club property, guaranteed four-foot sound walls and promises of meetings at least every three months to discuss ongoing work.
The county also agreed to give the club, at no cost, “exclusive” use of two golf-cart underpasses and county-owned land where the golf course already exists.
Elsewhere along the route, state officials plan to use eminent domain to condemn 116 homes and businesses and buy pieces of front and back yards needed for the project. Any negotiations probably would center on the lost property’s fair market value, not the state’s legal right to acquire it. The state would not need to condemn country club property, because the county already has a right of way about 100 feet wide through the golf course.
The state also has the right to lease private land during construction with no legal guarantee of how long that work will take.