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Montgomery's Purple Line plan includes more access to Georgetown Branch trail

By Katherine Shaver
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 28, 2010; B04

A state proposal to build a 16-mile Purple Line is now officially part of Montgomery County's master plan.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday to add a double-track rail line between downtown Bethesda and Langley Park -- Montgomery's section of a transit link that would extend east into Prince George's County to New Carrollton. The Montgomery master plan previously included only a single-track trolley line between Bethesda and Silver Spring.

The master plan update also includes more access points to the Georgetown Branch trail between downtown Bethesda and Silver Spring.

Council members said they were committed to keeping the popular walking and biking trail adjacent to any Purple Line tracks despite the fact that cost estimates to rebuild the trail recently ballooned from $25 million to at least $65 million. Council member Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda), whose district includes the trail, said residents in the town of Chevy Chase remain concerned about the safety of running the trail adjacent to light-rail tracks. State transit officials have said barriers would be built between the trail and tracks.

The council also said the county has no plans to change zoning to allow more density around any future Dale Drive station in Silver Spring. Purple Line plans do not include a Dale Drive station, but tracks would be laid in such a way that the station could be built later if the community wanted it, the council official said.

The Maryland Transit Administration is seeking federal funding to help cover a Purple Line's construction, now estimated to cost $1.68 billion.

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