There has been much activity lately dealing with the Georgetown Branch portion of the Capital Crescent Trail on which the Purple Line transit will run. Let's see if I can recap.
1. The Town of Chevy Chase commissioned a study, given to the state of Maryland, of running rapid buses off of the CCT on the western half of the trail. They would instead use Jones Bridge Road (through the town of Chevy Chase). Richard Layman writes:
A report by the Town's consultant, Sam Schwartz PLLC, argued that transit could move almost as quickly on Jones Bridge Road as along the light rail by having lights turn green whenever a bus approaches
2. Maryland Secretary of Transportation John Porcari wrote them a response in which he points out that the air quality analysis relies on discredited methods, the fare assertions are not based on fact, and that the buses would either move too slowly or slow traffic on cross streets. He also makes the point that the right-of-way "was purchased for and included in the master plan by Montgomery County for a transitway and trail." (emphasis is mine)
4. This elicited a response from those opposed to the Purple Line on the trail.
Did anyone expect that Michael D. Madden, the Maryland Transit Administration's project manager on the Purple Line study, would not come up with the numbers needed to push the Purple Line? Isn't that his job?
While politicians cited "better service to lower-income workers" who can't afford cars, and the article mentioned "slow and unreliable buses," neither raised the issue of developers' interest in the project. Until The Post investigates this issue, the story belongs on the editorial page, not in the Metro section.
And those for it
A Purple Line would also attract car owners like me: I would love to trade my 25-minute driving commute for a transit commute that takes the same amount of time or less. But a so-called rapid -- yet actually slower -- bus line would give Terps and east-west drivers little reason to ride.
5. A "walkshop" was hosted by "Pro-Capital Crescent Trail activists", to "show that a Purple Line transit system would destroy the popular walking and biking path between Silver Spring and Bethesda."
Mary Anne Hoffman, a Chevy Chase resident and event organizer, said the tour will show the "practical challenges" of running side-by-side tracks while preserving the trail in a narrow right of way. It will focus on the trail's unique qualities as an "urban park," including its many species of trees and birds, she said. A study by the Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail found that the trail attracts 10,000 weekly users during good weather.
State transit planners have said it would be too expensive to tunnel a rail line beneath the trail. They point to other cities where they say aboveground transit lines operate safely along bike and walking trails, where users have heavy landscaping as a buffer.
They held up the train-sized banners shown here to give an idea of the scale of the trains.
Finish the Trail makes the point that the "10,000 weekly users" refers only to the far western end of the Georgetown Branch, but that that number drops by 75% on the east side. Furthermore, trail ridership on the paved portions west of Bethesda average double the unpaved portions. This could mean - they assert - that completing the trail would double use. This ignores the fact that the CCT is paved and the GBT is not, but it's reasonable to believe that extending the trail into Silver Spring would increase use.
In contrast to the "Pro CCT" activists claims, I'd point out that the purple line will not destroy the trail. It will forever change it, making it less parklike no doubt. But the trail would remain and would be extended into Silver Spring. That's the trade off. In addition the right-of way is not as narrow as it appears. It's just that the neighbors have encroached on the land. There is room for two rail lines, a trail and trees.
I'll say it again, reasonable people could decide that the price ($, parkness, etc...) is too high, but let's not be dishonest.
So that's where we stand now.
For those looking for some history: