Purple Line Problems for Silver Spring

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Post's July 12 editorial "Green-Light the Purple Line" indicated that light rail would run along the Georgetown Branch railroad right of way from Bethesda eastward. The editorial failed to mention what would happen after the light rail system finishes traveling on the railroad right of way to Silver Spring: It would then travel at street level, exacerbating gridlock, particularly through downtown Silver Spring. Moreover, Montgomery County -- by agreeing to the Maryland Transit Administration's misguided plan to have the train line run directly through Silver Spring's new library -- will end up with a degraded facility, with the entrance on the third floor as a result of the design challenges.

The adverse effects of a street-level route through downtown Silver Spring would be many, but for the most part they were never mentioned in the state's study. However, a tunnel for a relatively short segment -- which the state concedes would be cost-effective -- would avoid these problems, improve the system and make the Purple Line through Silver Spring more like rapid transit (like Metro) instead of a streetcar. This would prevent downtown Silver Spring from becoming a traffic-clogged disaster.


Silver Spring

The writer is the chairman of the Purple Line Task Force of the Park Hills Civic Association and a member of the Montgomery County Planning Board's Purple Line Master Plan Advisory Group.

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