The Purple Line has sparked much debate across the region, but perhaps the most contentious debate has come from College Park, where the proposed routing would traverse the University of Maryland on Campus Drive. Rethink College Park has weighed in on the issue many many times, and has long supported the Campus Drive alignment preferred by MTA and by students.
The University administration called for alternative alignments, costly subway construction, and further study; while students pushed for a central location and a speedy construction process. To many, it seemed that the debate was getting us nowhere, with the University proposing new alignments seemingly every week and forcing the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) to rehash old arguments over and over. The student government organizations at both the undergraduate and graduate levels passed resolutions calling for the Campus Drive alternative, but President Mote would not meet with representatives from those bodies to even discuss the substance of UM’s objections.
Finally, however, the debate has settled down into a calm, rational discussion of the issues. The administration, reports the Diamondback, will drop its objections to the MTA-preferred alternative if MTA can allay the fears that trains will be a danger to pedestrians and disrupt research. Accordingly, MTA is studying the potential effects, from vibrations to electromagnetic radiation. They’ve also released revised plans for pedestrian movement and design which will truly improve the appearance of central campus.
The Purple Line is a golden opportunity for UM and the Washington region. By improving transit access, the University can reduce the footprint of its parking facilities and increase students’ access to jobs throughout the region. The region will increase its mobility and will build a vital link missing from the transit infrastructure for so long. If UM’s support is indeed forthcoming, this vision of Washington’s future will be one step closer to reality.