MTA Releases Purple Line DEIS

Portland Streetcar at PSU
The Maryland Mass Transit Administration has released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Purple Line. The document, sprawling across 251 pages offers a comprehensive look at the alternatives proposed for the transitway.

Running approximately 16 miles from Bethesda in Montgomery County to New Carrollton in Prince George’s County, the line will be either Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) or Light Rail and will cost between $386 million and $1.6 billion depending on the selected alternative.

The DEIS does not make for light reading, but it does cover a variety of important topics, from environmental justice to watershed impacts. Ridership and cost projections are also included, and this document is an important step in getting federal money to complete the project.

The project will play a vital role in connecting the region. Even the lowest investment BRT alternative is expected to garner 40,000 daily boardings by 2030. The high investment light rail line would draw over 68,000 riders by 2030.

Two alignments are currently being studied for the College Park/UM Segment. MTA clearly prefers a campus drive alignment, but at the behest of the University are also studying a right-of-way which would travel further south, passing between LeFrak Hall and the South Campus Dining Hall.

The DEIS does not identify a locally preferred alternative (LPA). The decision about which mode and alignment will be made after public comment on the DEIS. According to the document:

After consideration of comments received the State of Maryland will select a Locally Preferred Alternative in consultation with county and local jurisdiction officials and elected officials. The selection will be based on consideration of, and trade off among benefits, costs, environmental impacts, and affordability of the alternatives. The Locally Preferred Alternative could include project implementation phasing that involves an initial implementation phase, referred to as a minimum operable segment, and a plan and schedule for subsequent implementation phases.
(DEIS, page 13)

Selection of an LPA would allow the MTA to undertake the engineering required for the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) which is the last major step before requesting a record of decision from the Federal Transit Administration.

For I Dipt into the Future...

The DEIS can be accessed here (warning, large PDF).
Other documents are available on the Purple Line website.

Meetings are being held around the region soon. Make sure to get your comments heard.

New Carrollton
Saturday, November 15
New Carrollton Municipal Center
6016 Princess Garden Parkway
New Carrollton, MD 20784

Chevy Chase
Tuesday, November 18
National 4-H Youth Conference Center
7100 Connecticut Avenue
Chevy Chase, MD 20815

College Park

Wednesday, November 19
Ritchie Coliseum, University of Maryland
Route 1 across from Rossborough Inn
College Park, MD 20742

Takoma Park/Silver Spring
Saturday, November 22
Montgomery College,
Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus
Falcon Hall
7600 Takoma Avenue
Takoma Park, MD 20912

Approval of Two New Student Housing Projects Provides 1167 Beds

Full build out

Md. approves $80M for new dorm

The Maryland Board of Public Works approved the $80 million for Oakland Hall on Wednesday. Construction is scheduled to start August 2009 and be completed by April 2011.  Some of us at RTCP have wondered why Foulger-Pratt/Argo Investments (the developer of East Campus)  is not paying for this new dorm since it is slated to replace the beds lost from Leonardtown.

University View expansion passed with condition

On Tuesday the College Park City Council approved a preliminary plan for expanding University View to include the 13-story building called the Freshman Connection. On the bright side this expansion will cover the hideous parking garage currently fronting University View.

Purple Line Meetings in November

Maryland’s Mass Transit Administration, the agency in charge of building the Purple Line project will be holding a series of public meetings next month. Make sure you come out to voice your support for this transportation project.

Meetings are scheduled for:

College Park
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
UMD Ritchie Coliseum
Rossborough Lane & Route 1

Chevy Chase
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
National 4H Conference Center
7100 Connecticut Avenue

New Carrollton
Saturday, November 15, 2008
New Carrollton Municipal Center
6016 Princess Garden Parkway

Silver Spring/Takoma Park

Saturday, November 22, 2008
Montgomery College, Falcon Hall
7600 Takoma Avenue, Takoma Park

The Purple Line is a proposed light rail or bus rapid transit line which will link Bethesda to New Carrollton by way of Silver Spring, Langley Park, the University of Maryland, and College Park.

Public Works Punts On Vote for Oakland Hall

The DIAMONDBACK reports today that the Board of Public Works has postponed the vote for Oakland Hall for two weeks. The state is expecting a $1 billion deficit next year and there is concern about spending $88 million for this dorm. The Board would prefer the Public/Private partnership model whereby a private developer fronts the construction costs. However this model doesn’t work as well when trying to add a freshman dorm to an existing quad. The Board is scheduled to vote on the matter on October 15th. If approved construction would begin this summer, otherwise it would be delayed by at least one semester.

Oakland Hall is set to replace the beds lost from Leonardtown due to East Campus development.

See our previous post regarding Oakland Hall