• Purple Line station

  • Controversial areas

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Controversial points along the proposed Purple Line

Downtown Bethesda

The interim Georgetown Branch Trail is an extension of the Capital Crescent Trail. It now runs in a tunnel near the Bethesda Row shopping and entertainment district, where the Bethesda Purple Line station will be. The trail is now inside a tunnel beneath the Apex office building, Wisconsin Avenue and the Air Rights office building. The state has designed the trail to cross Wisconsin Avenue outside the tunnel. A proposal to redevelop the building to allow for a more spacious Purple Line station is pending. Read related story.

Chevy Chase community

The Purple Line will run within county-owned right-of-way adjacent to a rebuilt trail between Bethesda and Silver Spring. This will require cutting hundreds of trees, including almost all of the wooded trail's trees between Bethesda and the Columbia Country Club. Some trail advocates are concerned about the environmental impact of losing trees, as well as losing what they consider to be a peaceful, wooded oasis in an otherwise densely developed area. There are also safety concerns about pedestrians, cyclists and local high school students crossing the train tracks. Maryland transit officials say barriers will prevent pedestrians and cyclists from reaching the light-rail tracks. The trail also will be separated from the train tracks to protect trail users, planners say. Additionally, Maryland officials signed a legal agreement with the Columbia Country Club to shift the planned alignment of the Purple Line to better spare the club's golf course. In exchange, the country club agreed to drop all opposition to the Purple Line. Read related story.

Coquelin Run area

The Hay's Spring amphipod, listed as a federally protected endangered species since 1982, has been found in Rock Creek Park in the District, believed to be its only location in the world. Conservationists say the area is also home to the tiny Kenk's amphipod, which is a candidate for federal endangered species listing. This area is about four miles downstream of where the Purple Line trains will cross the stream valley park. Maryland transit planners say the train line's construction will be too far away to harm the amphipod's groundwater habitat. Conservationists say the potential impacts should be better studied so any harm could be mitigated, as required by federal law. Read related story.

Spring Center strip mall on 16th Street

The Maryland Transit Administration will buy the Spring Center strip mall, a shopping center on 16th Street. According to the Purple Line plan, 110 properties — 60 businesses and 50 homes and apartments — will be demolished for the Purple Line's construction. Read related story.

Wayne Avenue

Trains will run in traffic lanes on Wayne Avenue, east of downtown Silver Spring. Wayne Avenue will be widened to add left-turn lanes at key intersections. This widening will take parts of residents' front yards. State transit planners said they decided to run trains in mixed traffic on Wayne to address community concerns. Doing so will minimize the amount of property taken from residents' front yards, planners say. Some residents say the state also hasn't done enough to ensure students can cross Wayne safely to reach two schools. Read related story.

Dale Drive

Some residents are opposed to the station, saying it will bring commercial and higher-density residential development to the neighborhood. Proponents say a Purple Line station there will help residents reach the Silver Spring Metrorail station more easily. Read related story.

University of Maryland campus

The University of Maryland initially opposed construction of the Purple Line through its College Park campus along Campus Drive because of concerns it will endanger pedestrians and cyclists and create electromagnetic interference for sensitive lab equipment. In 2011, university officials dropped their opposition after the MTA agreed to install equipment to reduce electromagnetic interference in particularly sensitive nearby labs and convinced university officials that trains can operate safely among pedestrians and cyclists. The university now supports the project. Read related story.

Riverdale Park

The Purple Line was originally slated to run along the side of Kenilworth Avenue. The MTA announced in April 2012 that trains will instead run down the middle of Kenilworth, which will prevent having to widen the street, thereby sparing some local businesses. However, about 25 houses along Riverdale Road will be demolished. Read related story.

The Purple Line would be a light-rail system designed to thread through heavily populated neighborhoods along local streets in Montgomery and Prince George's counties. This is different from the heavy-rail system of the Metro, which has longer trains that require bigger stations, often underground.

Purple Line

  • owned by the Maryland Transit Administration
  • would run mostly above ground, along local streets
  • two-car trains
  • powered by overhead electrical wires
  • no station parking, except at existing Metro stations. Purple Line stations are designed to be reached mostly by foot, bike or bus
  • honor system ticketing with ticket-enforcement officers doing random checks


  • owned by WMATA
  • trains run in own right-of-way
  • six-to-eight-car trains
  • powered by a third rail
  • parking available at select Metro stations
  • turnstile ticketing

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