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.
Meetings are being held around the region soon. Make sure to get your comments heard.
Saturday, November 15
New Carrollton Municipal Center
6016 Princess Garden Parkway
New Carrollton, MD 20784
Tuesday, November 18
National 4-H Youth Conference Center
7100 Connecticut Avenue
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
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
Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus
7600 Takoma Avenue
Takoma Park, MD 20912