The town has budgeted up to $25,000 to hire Sam Schwartz Engineering to review the Maryland Transit Administration’s analysis of how a 16-mile light-rail line would affect town residents, said Mayor Pat Burda. The western end of the proposed 16-mile route between Bethesda and New Carrollton would travel along the Georgetown Branch Trail, which abuts back yards of Chevy Chase homes.
Burda said town officials have followed the state’s Purple Line planning closely for years but were surprised recently to learn that retaining walls more than 18 feet high could be built near homes. Residents also are concerned about the state’s plans for a rail-related power substation and a pedestrian crossing at Lynn Drive, where Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School students now cross the trail, she said.
Schwartz’s analysis, which was first reported by the Montgomery Gazette, will be used to help a lawyer prepare the town’s comments to the final environmental study, which was released Sept. 5. The public comment period ends Oct. 21. The town also had hired Schwartz to review previous state Purple Line studies.
Burda said town officials “have a fiduciary duty to our residents to fully understand” technical details of the transit proposal.
Asked whether the town plans to file a lawsuit related to a Purple Line, Burda said, “We have no plans at this point. We want to get a better sense of what the impacts would be on the town. We’re not at that stage yet.”
The MTA and Montgomery County recently signed a legal agreement with the nearby Columbia Country Club that granted some concessions to preserve the club’s Chevy Chase golf course in exchange for the club agreeing to drop all opposition. That included the filing or funding of any lawsuits, which could delay construction.