In the recent Purple line post reader Cornelius Davies writes..
As a graduate of the University of Maryland, I am upset to see the Purple Rail routed through the heart of the campus. It will destroy the nature of campus life. It will be ugly. It may be good for the developers but bad for the school. When you allow the rail to be built on campus you will loser my support as an alumni. It forever change the wonderful institution I have been so proud to call mine.
Many parts of the proposed Purple Rail route are poorly planned. The campus route is about the worst.
Maps showing it as a part of the Metro system are misleading. It is not. It is also misleading to refer to it as the Purple “Line”. The university could well be served by light rail…. But not through the center of the campus.
As a response for RTCP Colin Phillips writes..
thanks for your message and your interest in rethinkcollegepark. The blog welcomes lively debate on all issues that affect the future development of College Park, and we can assure you that there is ample difference of opinion on the best way forward. As you have noticed, however, the blog does have a bit of an editorial bias regarding the Purple Line and its routing through College Park.
I should mention a couple of relevant facts about the Purple Line (by the way, this is the name that the Maryland Dept of Transportation uses, and so that strikes us as a reasonable term to use.)
— In the College Park area there is overwhelming support for the line. At the public hearings in this area one does not encounter the hostility that on that issue that one finds in certain parts of Bethesda and Silver Spring (i.e., Columbia Country Club and Wayne
Avenue). The university’s higher administration, which shares your views on the campus drive routing, is very much a minority view here.
— The undergraduate and graduate student organizations have both expressed a clear preference for the Campus Drive alignment, so this is not going against the wishes of students. Students recognize the sound transportation planning that favors that routing (serves more people, serves key areas, allows integration of different transportation modes, removes thousands of cars per day from Campus Drive, etc.). It’s probably fair to say that there’s a diversity of views on the issue among faculty and administrators.
— Anybody who is concerned about the beauty of Campus Drive should drop by some time to check it out during a semester morning. Preferably not by car. It is a mess of cars and people. The light rail would undoubtedly reduce the vehicular traffic on that route. Also, MTA has made serious efforts to create a visually appealing design – check out their movie clips to see what they have in mind. Think Amsterdam or Portland, rather than having the Red Line run through the campus. If Campus Drive was one of the beauty spots on the campus, then you might expect it to show up in some of the university’s selection of images of campus. It does not. If one looks at what the University itself considers to be its visually appealing features, it’s clear that Campus Drive is not something that it is proud of currently.
— The MTA has studied every alternative offered by the university in good faith (some of the RTCP staff have been to countless meetings and discussions about this), and it consistently becomes clear that the university has not really thought through its alternatives carefully. The so-called Preinkert alignment that the university favors is fraught with problems that the university is unwilling to discuss. Unfortunately, the university’s shifting rationale for its objections has undermined its credibility. It tried safety considerations, but then advocated a proposal that was even worse on safety grounds. It tried aesthetic arguments, but is currently proposing an alternative that is even worse from that perspective. It’s now pushing arguments based on impact on its science activities. These are not groundless, but they’re not being presented in a fair manner, and at this point many are reluctant to take those arguments seriously.
— Your remarks about developers benefiting from this likely have no impact at all upon the routing through the university. The part of the routing that impacts the proposed private development on East Campus is agreed upon by all concerned, as the proposed private developments on the Adelphi end of Campus Drive are similarly compatible with both routings. The choice of routing through the campus will not impact private developers in any way, so this is not the issue that some are making it out to be in Bethesda and Chevy Chase.
So we certainly welcome your opinion on this, but one should recognize that the position that is favored by most groups that have
studied this carefully is not something that was dreamt out of thin air.
I’m pasting in here another reply to your message, from councilman Bob Catlin of College Park, which you may not have received because of the way that our email list is configured.
Over the past year the only substantive reason the University now raises as to the route through the heart of campus has to do with the impact of electromagnetism and vibration on research equipment along that proposed route.