June 30, 2010

“No Train on Wayne”? The Purple Line Saga

Posted in musings tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:37 am by silversprung

They dot the lawns and front entryways of many homes across Silver Spring- the purple “No Train on Wayne” lawn signs. I’m well-aware of the longstanding Purple Line metro project, but decided to do a little research on the reaction Silver Spring residents have to the plan.

I’m sure all you longtime residents know the story, but for all those readers new to the area and those who’ve never visited, here goes…

The proposed purple line would connect Prince George’s county in the east with Montgomery County in the west offering commuters a mass transit alternative to the Beltway. 

Last August, Gov. Martin O’Malley announced his choice of a Light Rail Transit system over a rapid bus system as the preferred method of transportation for the line. O’Malley said last year that LRT is favored because it’s more “cost-effective and rider-friendly” and argued that light rail has made many advances and won’t be as disturbing as other, older light rail systems.

LRT opponents prefer a bus system because it would cost less and avoid digging up nature and bike trails. Plus, they argue it would destroy other areas around the line, create traffic and additionally, some folks will have a train in their backyard.  Hence, the “No Train on Wayne” group. These are folks who came together to invest in lawn signs to protest the train.

Potential stations at Wayne and Dale Drive, Manchester Road, Plymouth Street, and at Bonifant and Fenton are causing additional concern for downtown residents. See map: Purple Line

Separate from the sign creators is the Seven Oaks/Evanswood Citizens’ Association, which has long been active in the Purple Line debate. President Mark Gabriele has testified about the impact the line would have on his community. A majority of the SOECA favors an underground tunnel for the line in their area. Among the adverse impacts a surface line would have on their area, according to Gabriele’s past testimony, includes: traffic backups; loss of parking spaces and land; the danger posed to pedestrians going to school and church located there; the noise factor.

But the line also has many supporters including members of the Purple Line NOW! non-profit group and the Silver Spring Advocates. Purple Line NOW! argues that Light Rail is the better alternative to a bus system because of cost, environmental impact, etc. and could potentially revitalize the areas it serves.

So where is the project now? Not going anywhere anytime soon, just like it’s been for the last 20 years. An optimistic estimate is that ground will be broken in 2013, but that would be after securing federal funding.



  1. Terry in Silver Spring said,

    I think a lot of people would prefer a completely underground subway line for the Purple but in today’s economy there’s no money for it. We need a Purple Line of some kind to make it easier to travel around the Maryland side of the DC suburbs on public transportation. A trolley or above ground line CAN be done well (Amsterdam) and turn into an actual desired feature (St Charles streetcar in New Orleans).

  2. dan reed said,

    Perhaps there’s a way to tell this story for those who already live here, not just those who are new. There are lots of ways for people to do their own research on the Purple Line – more importantly, I want to know what y’all think of it.

    You should also point out that the Purple Line IS NOT Metro. It will be light rail, which is a different technology than the Metro (light rail is powered by an overhead wire, while the Metro is powered by an electrified “third rail” – hence why it’s always underground or elevated, and the Purple Line can run in the street). We don’t even know if it’ll be operated by WMATA or the Maryland Transit Administration, so bear that in mind as well.

    • silversprung said,

      Uh… Thanks for the critique, Dan? Of course there’s other ways to tell this story, but this is the way I chose and people are reading it.

      • deckcrasher said,

        I think people are coming here to read Dan’s comment…

      • silversprung said,

        haha! well it’s long enough to be a blog post, isn’t it? deckcrasher, you’re money. you need to crash our deck soon, esp in this nice weather.

  3. The Purple Line functional master plan just had a hearing before the County Council two days ago – you can access the master plan online and request all the hearing testimony. Read to your heart’s content. But for my 2 cents, the Purple Line Now web site gives a pretty concise summary as does the web site for Action Committee fo Transit.

  4. ForestGlen said,

    The Purple Line will be run by the MTA. The same people that give you the terrible service on the MARC train lines. It’s time to scrap this money-wasting proposal.

    • Sgc said,

      I’m not real fond of MARC’s record, either, but the primary fault there lies with the fact that the track is owned by CSX, and MARC is third in line behind freight rail and Amtrak. There’s no particular reason to believe that light rail will have a poor on-time record. It should be more like Metro in that respect than MARC.

  5. Another Woodsider said,

    The Purple Line will not benefit the Chevy Chase Land Company if it is built as a subway. The shortest route between Bethesda and Silver Spring would be down East-West Highway. East-West does not pass through Chevy Chase Lake. The alternative chosen is a surface route using the Georgetown Branch right-of-way which does go through CC Lake. Board Members of the Land Company were instrumental in the lobby group, Purple Line Now. The Chevy Chase Land Company is now proposing to increase zone density on its extensive property based on constructing of the Purple Line. You got a Light Rail out of the deal and it will cost at least $1.6 billion. When we can afford that, we can afford a subway.

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