Sidelining the Metro: How Fear, Prejudice, and University Inaction Kept the College Park Metro Station away from Campus

The thousands of University of Maryland students, faculty, and staff who use Metro often wonder why the College Park Metro Station is located inconveniently far away from campus. A 1994 graduate study (PDF, 15 MB) led by Urban Studies and Planning Professor William Hanna came to the conclusion that during the Metro’s planning stages in the early 1970s, then-President Wilson Homer Elkins virtually ignored the alignment discussions and tacitly discouraged alignments that were too convenient to campus. The report asserted that Elkins’s lack of enthusiasm for Metro resulted from his uneasiness with metropolitan Washington and is linked with his lack of enthusiasm for racial integration.

Students, faculty, and staff often dread the long bus ride to the Metro station and wonder why it is so far away. The Maryland Department of Transportation (DOT) actually considered several different station locations for College Park, including one under Route 1 at the Ritchie Coliseum and one on campus near what is now the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. However, as the current controversy over the Purple Line shows, political realities often force governments to compromise the convenience of public transit to appease oppositional constituencies—such is the nature of democracy. For different reasons, each alignment for the Green Line upset a different constituency in the surrounding neighborhoods. The default alignment included the current location of the station and though the Maryland DOT was actively considering alternatives that would be closer to campus the then-Administration remained publicly silent on advocating a closer location, leaving the debate to various NIMBY groups.

In fact, Maryland’s Secretary of Transportation at the time noted the current location’s “poor service to the University” and referred to his department’s ridership numbers that estimated the number of people that would board at each proposed station location. Obviously, the more convenient a station is to where people live and want to go, the higher the ridership. DOT’s damning conclusion shows that the public and then-President Elkins knew that the current station would be the least-used possible location for a Metro station in College Park:

1973 Projection of Boardings

We can never know for certain why Elkins failed to advocate one of the several proposed campus stations, even though such a decision would prove crucially important to the University’s future. Though these campus locations were shown to be more convenient and more popular among riders, the Hanna report asserted that convenience of transit was not Elkins’s priority at the time. The report suggested that racial animus (or at least ambivalence) subtly motivated the Elkins administration regarding enrollment and even regarding Metro planning decisions. On the matter of race, the report states:

There was never a George Wallace blocking the entry for African-Americans to the College Park campus. However, it is clear that during the years of Metro decisionmaking, there was no welcome mat. A distinguished [and unnamed] campus historian put it this way: “President Elkins didn’t want undesirable elements on campus, which [to him] meant black people from Washington.” Our research clearly indicates that some campus officials and others feared that a Metro link between the District and College Park would make it easier for African-Americans to come to campus. That result was contrary to the political will of the campus at the time. (PDF pp 54-5)

The report furthers discussed the fact that in 1973, though the Administration officially opposed racial segregation, “a federal civil rights agency conducted an evaluation of Maryland’s efforts, concluding that little had been done to foster [racial] integration.” (PDF p. 55)

The report links Elkins’s lack of support for a convenient station with a fear of racial conflict. The proposed Green Line would link College Park with places such as Columbia Heights and U Street, which had recently burned in the civil disorder that followed Martin Luther King’s assassination in April 1968. The report posited another cultural motivation for the Administration beyond that of race. The University of Maryland serves the entire state of Maryland, but is situated in the Washington metropolitan area. The University’s rural, agricultural roots, the report asserted, contended with the University’s suburban metropolitan location:

Metro was seen as a threat to the non-urban character of the campus, and especially to the separation of the campus from urban ways and people. It is, therefore, easy to understand that a source of further stress and disruption was unwelcome. Only with the arrival of President John Toll, who grew up in Washington metropolitan area, did the position of the campus change. (PDF p. 58)

Indeed, how times have changed. The University of Maryland now graduates more African Americans than does any other top-25 public university in the nation. Furthermore, the University’s recruitment efforts these days often tout the proximity of Washington as a benefit of attending Maryland and the current Administration voices its support for better connecting the campus with the rest of the region through the Purple Line.

Though the Administration now supports the Purple Line, President Mote opposes the Maryland DOT’s current alignment for a light rail station in front of the Stamp Student Union. He is urging the state to change course and head for Stadium Drive instead. Mote fears that the line would degrade the currently worn down state of Campus Drive, even though any Purple Line construction would bring millions of dollars in streetscape improvements. His opposition is also based on a fear that a light rail train will cause damaging vibrations to nearby scientific equipment, even though modern light rail vehicles are quieter (and most likely produce less vibrations) than our current noisy diesel Shuttle UM buses. President Mote also states the unwarranted fear that train drivers will run down students, even though private cars on Campus Drive today are a greater threat to pedestrian safety than are trained rail operators who can simply apply the brake as with any other vehicle.

President Mote’s opposition to the Maryland DOT’s current Purple Line proposal for a stop on campus (above) is reminiscent of Elkins’s lack of support for a convenient campus station. Though President Mote is certainly not motivated by fear of racial conflict, he is motivated by other fears—fears of the new and unfamiliar—that prove similarly unconvincing. The President believes his fears, which he has not adequately proven in public, warrant the University to yet again forgo the convenient public transit the State of Maryland is offering and that students, staff, and faculty deserve.

> Read the study yourself: Metro Stop? Metro: Stop! The Politics of Transportation Planning (.PDF, 15 MB)

39 thoughts on “Sidelining the Metro: How Fear, Prejudice, and University Inaction Kept the College Park Metro Station away from Campus”

  1. Great post Eric. I have a question though for you, Rob, David, and anyone else who knows and/or just loves giving their opinion: In regards to the purple line, how definite is it that it gets built at all?

    In all this recent to-do about the purple line, this question has been bugging me, and I have either just missed the answer in between the lines of all the location controversy, or it has not really been addressed that much. Maybe it looks like enough of a lock at this point that this does not need to be discussed? Somehow I don’t think this is the case (there is only so much money to go around!), what do others think?

    My fear is simply that in arguing with the administration so adamantly about location, a chance to unify and ensure the success of the project at all is being missed.

  2. In response to Jesse – it is never certain until the fat lady gets the rails laid but the Purple Line has moved forward further in the last year than it did in the previous 4. Action by the legislature last month has enabled John Porcari to set aside funds for Preliminary Engineering for the project (to the tune of $100 million!). Prelim. Eng. is the next phase – after completion of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and selection of a Locally Preferred Alternative. These are scheduled to happen this Spring. There will be a public hearing which should be entertaining.

    The discussions (not “arguments!) about location are very important. You can not go into engineering if you are not sure what you are engineering, and you can not put forth a Locally Preferred Alternative that has a rail line doing wacky loops through the university. If the university alignment is not resolved in a manner that meets federal guidelines, the project is definitely AT RISK. In reflecting back on the Green Line fiasco (thank you RETHINK COLLEGE PARK!) it is important to observe that one good thing about the stringent FTA guidelines is that they do not allow for such bad decisions which result in projects being far less valuable than they would otherwise be. The university administration can posture all they want about how they know what is best, but an alignment that misses East Campus and the center and north ends of campus (as they apparently are now pushing) will not get good ridership, making the project less competitive and far less cost-effective in the eyes of the Feds. It is possible that the Montgomery County segment between Bethesda and Silver Spring would go forward, but the current antics of UMd could threaten not just service to College Park, but all of the the Prince Georges segment of this project.

  3. I would also like to know (how definite the purple line is)

    I thought it was definitely getting built that the only issues were the College Park campus alignment issue and one related to a right-of-way near a country club in Mont Cty

    But I encounter plenty of people who say “never going to happen”

  4. I’m not surprised.

    It’s also about economic segregation. Anyone who can’t pay the rent in the immediate area – which is rapidly approaching “Completely Unreasonable” – or own a car is pretty much out of a spot as a student here.

    Also, look at how hard it is to get into Georgetown. I think the formal explanation is difficulty of getting level ground. With all our engineering expertise these days, that excuse is outmoded. Georgetown residents obviously want to keep the great unwashed out of their little enclave.

    I’m going to draw some more parallels to NY because I know it, and I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel. I can’t imagine the upper east side, for instance, being completely cut off from the 4, 5, or 6 trains which also service Harlem and the Bronx. As strange as it may seem, said trains run underground in Manhattan and then emerge onto an elevated track through the Bronx. They are both – get ready for this – underground AND elevated! That’s why I have no faith in the non-racial reasons for not having a metro in G-town.

    One nice thing is that in NY, even if you hate a certain ethnic group, you can’t help but come into contact with someone of that culture at some point during your day. You may not like those people, but you need to develop some respect for them in order to function. I don’t see that as much here.

    That said, I find it remarkable that so few people are pulling out the racial/economic segregation cards. And no one cares! This kills me. Where are the protesters??

    Anyone up for a peaceful protest outside the administration building? Sign carriers? Anyone have a catchy chant?

    😛

  5. I don’t think President Mote’s position is born of racism or classism at all, actually, but rather from a misunderstanding of light rail. The normal image of the word ‘rail’ is of unsightly gravel beds, thunderous train engines, and, in the case of our own Metro, fences and third rails.

    Light rail is a completely different animal, and with few local examples of light rail, it’s understandable that it can be intimidating. The Hanna study recounts the concern of some College Park residents who told Metro planners in the early 1970s apocryphal stories of New York children climbing over subway fences and being electrocuted. This sounds like a preposterous concern today—crossing the street is far more dangerous than Metrorail, but having no local precedent at the time, it is understandable that some Washingtonians viewed it with a cautious eye.

    The Hanna report also noted that some area residents were taken on a trip to Montréal to see that subway systems can be clean and pleasant. A similar trip to Portland or San Francisco might similarly assuage fears of blood-soaked rails today.

    If we put it in perspective though, President Mote’s alignment, although certainly less useful to daily commuters than the MTA’s proposal, is still far better than demanding the line be completely shunted off campus as Elkins would have preferred.

  6. I will say it again….I dont know why everyone keeps pinning this on President Mote. I wouldnt be surprised if it was actually possible to get a leader to speak the truth about what is actually on his mind and how he personally really truly feels, I would wager that he would want the line right in the center of campus.

    But it seems like people have a preference for turning this into a personal attack against him.

    I aM even More shocked that with such sophisticated big city northern types aMong us, that folks dont realize that President Mote is Merely the face of the issue – its an entire teaM of advisors and very influential aluMni (sorry Jane, but folks who give lots of Money to U of Md) who are doing this.

    If the Money was avail to run it underground (going under at East Campus and re-emerging west of UMUC and the Adelphi / Univ Blvd intersection) then I dont think there would be any debate. Its all about the visual impact it would have on the campus. People think Rte 1 is ugly enough with the overhead wires. They dont want more on the campus proper.

    You can blast me all you want, but Id be willing to wager that I am 100% correct.

  7. The problem here is that Dr. Mote has unleashed a political machine against this project that is using the kitchen sink, hysterial arguments used by nymbies elsewhere along the aligment. It is absolutely impossible for all the cabinet to be parroting the “stadium drive is the way to go” lead of his 10/25 op-ed on their own. We deserve intellectual integrity in this debate and that is what is lacking. Raising the boogie of vibrations one day, catenaries the next, loss of Lot 1 Parking, undergraduates getting run over by trains, ugly fences (has he even bothered looking at the chain link fences on Campus Drive? All things we would expect from a civic group. Is that what we should expect from the leadership of a so-called top tier university? Intellectual dishonesty.

    The issue of overhead wires is really the most ludicrous non issue. Modern catenaries are not like 1950s telephone poles. They can be coordinated with the orderly installation of quality new outdoor lighting. The wires themselves are virtually invisible! Can anyone who has spent more than 5 minutes at Lot HH (the bus bays) really argue that this is not worth reducing the odor of diesel fuel in the middle of campus???

    As has been said before, why are these wires aesthetically taboo but cutting down what is left of the forests on the edge of campus instead of focusing on infill development is not? Running a highway right into the campus – the I-95 connector – will encourage tremendous new cut through traffic in complete contradiction to the intent of the master plan? So is the real issue a lack of appreciation that many people want or in some cases need to come to campus by transit, and would value the tremendous upgrade in service represented by the Purple Line?

  8. Joe,

    There you go with the name calling again, “nymbies”. I thought the intention of this site was to make your point without resorting to the low ball tactics of name calling. I will control myself from this point forward.

    When Martin O’Malley was running for Governor he was asked whether he supported the Purple Line along the Capital Crescent Trail. He said “It should be buried”.

    Apparently the Campus Drive location is as important to some folks at UMD as the Capital Crescent Trail is to many in western Montgomery County. The look and sound of the system is very important to many. Just because you think it will be attractive or at least benign in appearance does not make it so. You do not have a monopoly on the truth.

    I saw the ridership numbers were published yesterday. How can they be accurately calculated if the route has yet to be determined?

  9. Its the visual impact issue / first impressions of campus that makes the connector so attractive and the purple line so unattractive. I am Switzerland here in that I see the benefits of both and try not to inject my personal views regarding either when I talk to Univ constituents on these two issues. I may not agree with “M” on much, but I will admit the thing I loved most about living in NYC was not owning (or needing) a car. But I cant change Marylanders.

    The thought is: if we can give visitors a way to get on campus without the visual assault that is Route 1 it will help improve the University’s reputation and help attract the very best and brightest students/faculty/staff. I used to give campus tours when I was a student and it was common to hear the parents of prospects say: “Wow, what a beautiful campus, I never expected such a nice place after coming down Rte 1”

    So, aside from all of the benefits of alleviating the intense pressure on Rte 1, the campus connector is also a chance to give visiting prospects (students, faculty/staff, etc) a much improved first impression.

    I am not sure what you mean by “cut through traffic” but based on context it sounds like there is concern that non-university traffic will use the connector. say for example, a resident of CPW needing quick access to 95.

    Well, there are simple solutions to that: make the connector a controlled access road (U of Md permit holders only, EZ Pass type of reader, etc) with no connections to local streets such as Metzerott. The area up by the park and ride lot would make a great location for a U of Md / City of CP / PG County / Capital Region Welcome Center. There could even be satellite Univ parking up there (greatly reduced permit fee) with shuttle service to campus. The road could be opened up only during the hours of 7 am – 7pm and for major sporting events. The only “outlets” would be System Admin, then the parking garage near Comcast and the nearby surface lots. (Somehow there would need to be a way for access to CSPAC for those events – perhaps at Univ Blvd)

    Think limited access, well landscaped, visually appealing access to / first impression of campus. move the alignment over to the west side of the power lines along the original I-95 ROW, then turning east just before Metzerott, crossing over Metzerott (a bridge as opposed to at-grade) in front of System Admin then along the northeastern edge of the golf course where it connects to Terrapin Trail at Univ Blvd.

    Alternatively, no connector and Rte 1 becomes even more horribly gridlocked. I lost an afternoon tryng to get from CPW back to campus stuck at the light at Metzerott and Univ Blvd

  10. THANKS for posting this. I have been waiting for a post on the horrible decision of our metro alignment for a long time. That is indeed very, very sad that racial bias was a factor in our horrible alignment today.

    How great would an underground, Ritchie coliseum metro stop be? Darn… I feel like our university will never be as good as it could have been, transportation wise.

  11. The Purple Line will not be built with a tunnel on the Georgetown Branch. MTA certainly agrees that a tunnel through campus has more value in operational terms on campus than on an existing railroad ROW where travel speeds will be excellent without it. Travel time for Bethesda to Silver Spring is estimated at 9 minutes, which is excellent (compared to current 24 minutes by J-4 bus, assuming it is not in a traffic jam).

    The ridership numbers (42 to 47,000 riders for medium to high level light rail) will be refined (as will travel times) as the alignment is refined. Assumptions for alignment on which these are based can be seen at the Open house on wednesday (College Park Muncipal Center 5-8 pm). I believe they are based on the assumption that there is a central campus and east campus stop.

  12. What are everyone’s thoughts simply on the issue of moving large numbers of people quickly and efficiently and how it relates to the purple line?

    —————

    I’ll go first. I find that when my commute is stress-free, I arrive at work relaxed, in a better and far more productive mood. There’s enough that can happen at work to put me in a lousy frame of mind without the day starting off with a rubbernecking traffic jam and no alternative routes. My opinions are based on the premise that a group of people who aren’t as stressed about the following things –

    traffic, gas prices, no housing alternatives, getting mugged/assaulted/raped on the walk from work to the car after a long day, meeting friends for a happy hour without worrying about driving drunk or paying for a cab

    – will be more productive, not to mention cheerful. Plus, they’ll be more likely to go out and the cultural/fun offerings in the area will diversify beyond dude-let’s-go-out-and-get-wasted-man.

    With a super-accessible metro line from UMD’s perspective, at the very least I imagine the university’s productivity would rise, stress levels would decrease, and there’d be higher retention rates in the graduate programs which (I think) are currently below the national average. Not having your typically stressful enough workday framed by impotent rage at the morons driving around you would be quite lovely.

    …And of course, being able to enjoy happy hour slightly less responsibly would be nice, too…

  13. Joe,

    I think the Governor will trump the MTA when it comes to making the final decisions on billion dollar projects. Gov. O’Malley said if the Purple Line was placed on the Capital Crescent Trail it should be buried. I am hoping that he is a man of his word. {warning sarcasm to follow} I do know that the Governor is very close with a very vocal Purple Line advocate, Comptroller Peter Franchot.

    I would like to see the math behind the ridership numbers. I hope they can stand up in court. If the ICC was litigated, imagine what a train running through a country club will bring. Muchos abogados.

    If the MTA insists on the train running down Campus Drive can President Mote even stop them. Your posts make the MTA seem to be a very politically potent outfit.

    Hold onto your hats, this should be interesting.

  14. Politicians can often trump planners, but not for this one. There is no way a tunnel can be justified on the Georgetown Branch. As I understand it from transit planners in the know, even if the county wanted to pay for it, FTA rules would not find it justified so they would not support federal dollars. No fed $, no project. Md doesn’t have a spar $500 million for this.

    The Columbia Country Club lost their lawsuit against Montgomery County. In the settlement, they renounced the right to further legal action. Remember, the railroad right of way was there before the country club was. Neighbors may sue. This is the American way, especially in lawyer rich Chevy Chase. Ultimately, it would be nice if the club became a park.

    It would be a shame if there is not an amicable agreement on the Purple Line through campus. MTA doesn’t make the decision – the Governor does, and the Governor would prefer a choice supported by the campus. But the governor will listen to the County and City politicians as well as voters.

  15. Transitguy said:

    “Ultimately, it would be nice if the club became a park.”

    Have you seen this place.

    http://www.columbiacc.org/

    The Columbia Country Club is in the middle of a major renovation, must be in the millions. Do you actually think they would be doing that if there was even the slightest chance that the land would be turned into a park. You really must be joking. Not in a million years.

    If through some miraculous developments the Purple Line is built, the Country Club will probably build huge soundwalls to separate it from the rail.

    Why all the hate toward the CC members. I would love to have that beautiful place as a resource for my family. I will never be a member but I am happy for them. They do let neighborhood kids use the Golf Course for sledding in the winter, and they put on a great fireworks display around the 4th of July. They are good neighbors.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if quite a few members of the CC aren’t UMD alumni and donors to the UMD endowment.

    Transitguy, unless you are helping grow the UMD endowment you probably aren’t as powerful as you think. If you throw a few million at the University and have a building named after you, I am sure you can have the train moved to Campus Drive.

    UMD Purple Line Proponents,

    Don’t burn your bridges with President Mote on a project that has a very low probability of ever happening. IMHO

  16. If the Country Club does build high sound walls, they will have to be 50+ feet away from the center of the Georgetown Branch Corridor since the public owns a 100+ r.o.w. there. The walls would be far enough back so that transit and trail users will not feel pinched. That would be better than the way the Country Club has pinched the trail down into a 16′ wide path between high fences today to make trail users feel like they are hampsters in a cage at the Country Club.

  17. It is going to be bus?

    Jennifer Deseo has done the public a service over at the Silver Spring Penguin by summarizing the ridership and cost estimates which MTA is presenting at the Purple Line meetings. Based on the numbers provided by MTA, bus-rapid transit appears to be the big winner. While the high-end estimates in terms of cost are 27% cheaper for bus-rapid transit, the decline in ridership is only around 4.5%.

    Put another way, according to MTA is will be very expensive to capture the last few riders by switching from bus-rapid transit to a light-rail system. The light-rail alternative is faster according to MTA but not fast enough to pick up many more riders. Take a peek for yourself and figure out what you think over at the Silver Spring Penguin.

  18. SV – I never said I thought I was powerful and I certainly agree that members of the Columbia Country Club are. I hope that transportation policy will ultimately reflect analysis and not backroom deals by the rich, powerful and or short sighted. Certainly the club has spent hundreds of thousands in opposing the Bethesda to Silver Spring transit and trail project.

    I do think that many prominent supporters of the university will support a light rail line if it is well designed. I share Rethink College Park’s rejection of the latest arguments against the project, because they simply do not hold water. Light rail is safer and less noisy than buses, for example, according to the Federal Transit Administration.

    I certainly agree that transit supporters should not burn bridges with the University President (note that I said: “It would be a shame if there is not an amicable agreement on the Purple Line through campus). A progressive university president was reportedly critical to the success in getting the Charlotte LRT constructed, and the U of MN is very actively engaged in promoting the Central Corridor project in Minnesota.

    Following up on SSTrails response – what the Country Club does with their own land is their concern but the 100′ right of way is public land. MTA will not erect sound barriers because there will not be a noise issue. MTA will work with the club to erect aesthetically pleasing fencing, and has worked to develop a concept for passing through the club land that is reminiscent of that for roads crossing Central Park, with attractive bridges and landscaping, and underpasses for golfers to get from one section of the course to the other.

    Many country clubs have moved from the inner to outer suburbs (e.g. Indian Springs). SV is probably right that CCT wants to stay put, and their open land is increasingly rare in the Bethesda/Chevy Chase area. My point was that if they were to move in the future, the land would be best used as a park rather than a subdivision of mcmansions.

  19. Transitguy:

    I agree the Country Club can do what it wants with its land. My issue is that the Country Club also appears to do what it wants with most of the public’s 100′ wide r.o.w.

    In 1996 Montgomery County agreed to build the 8′ high fences where they are today because the Club was threatening to block building the Interim CCT with litigation. Since then the Club’s claims to any part of this 100′ r.o.w. have been rejected by the courts. But the fence remains, with the Club using over 4/5 of the public land for its own use with no compensation being given to the public.

    If the Purple Line is not built soon, then many trail supporters will begin pressuring the County to take action to remove the fence so the public can use its land. I would not oppose the Club using a small part of that r.o.w. where the greens are now, but the Club should pay fair market value to the public for this use. If the Club were really a good neighbor, then the Trail would not be pinched into a 16′ wide space between the 8′ high fences there today.

  20. Transitguy,

    My point was the importance of the endowment fund. From what I have read UMD’s Endowment is currently $378m. This amount is factored into US News’s University rankings. UMD has a long way to go to catch up to some of their peers. UVA….

    The importance of these backroom deals by the rich should not be overlooked. If President Mote ignores the potential big money donors he wouldn’t be doing his job.

  21. Sorry this is only indirectly related to Lightrail at UMD. It does show that the Columbia Country Club isn’t the only monied group involved in this debate.

    Hey why doesn’t the Chevy Chase Land Company write a big check to the UMD endowment fund?

    SilverSpring Said:

    “If the Purple Line is not built soon, then many trail supporters will begin pressuring the County to take action to remove the fence so the public can use its land.”

    Now note what the Chevy Chase Land Company said. This is from the Gazette Newspaper. Seems the developers and SilverSpringTrails are singing from the same sheet of music. :o)

    “But Ed Asher, president of Chevy Chase Land Company, said Ehrlich is jeopardizing trail by stonewalling the Inner Purple Line.

    Asher said his company owns about 12 acres of the trail, running from Jones Bridge Road east through Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, to the vicinity of the Air Rights Building along East-West Highway in Bethesda.

    Montgomery County has held easement rights to the property since 1985 under the federal Rails-to-Trails Act. But those rights end, Asher said, if the county fails to use the land for mass transit.

    “If there is a definite act, on the part of this or another administration, that the trail will not be used for rail, we will go back to court to try to reclaim ownership,” he said.

    If successful, Asher said his company could develop the land.

    Pam Browning of Chevy Chase, who led a petition drive last summer to preserve the trail, said Asher and his fellow light-rail supporters are muddying the issue.

    “Light-rail proponents, supported by Chevy Chase Land Company, would like to see the issue of the trail disappear,” she said. “They have long claimed that the Country Club is their only opposition. But community residents and trail users know otherwise.”

  22. Sin V:

    I think your point about the County Club and the Chevy Chase Land Company is only correct in part. You are correct that both have at times threatened to take possession of the publically owned r.o.w., and both have been turned back by the courts. But we are not confronted by 8′ high chain link fences close by both sides of the Interim CCT when we ride by the Chevy Chase Land Company, and we do when we ride through the Club. So why the outrage at the Chevy Chase Land Company, but not a word about the Club?

  23. SilverSpringTrails,

    It is simple and probably quite selfish. I prefer the status quo. The trail is currently great for walking, biking, pushing a baby in a carriage… It is surrounded by huge old trees and beautiful.

    If the developers have their way we will have a > 60′ wide cement highway with no trees and 55mph light rail trains wizzing by. Great for older folks taking a relaxing walk and new parent/grandparents pushing babies in a stroller {sarcasm}.

    It is not that I love the Country Club, but they are good neighbors, keep their yard up nice, and won’t tear down all of the trees.

    The developers want to take a naturally beautiful place and sacrifice it in the name of Gucci.

  24. Sin V.

    I can understand your position. But if the decision is made to not build the Purple Line, it does not follow that the Club should be allowed to indefinitely continue to use 4/5 of the publically owned corridor for its exclusive use with no compensation given to the public, while the Trail is confined to a 16′ wide path between high chain link fences. The Trail can be much nicer in this area, and will be when the public reclaims the land it owns from the Club.

  25. Kevin: “I aM even More shocked that with such sophisticated big city northern types aMong us […]”

    I beg your pardon, but are you implying that we natives from south of the Mason & Dixon are not sophisticated? Or are you implying that Prince George’s County is home to big-city Yankees? That’s a joke if I’ve ever heard it! There are northerners who have moved down here (too many from New York and New Jersey), but don’t assume that most of the readers of this web-site are transplants to the area.
    Hmmpphhhh!

    As an aside, a family friend well-connected to the university told me years ago that another big reason the Metro was unwanted on campus was that they had already invested heavily in buses. Not sure how much truth there is to that…

  26. actually, neither….

    go read the Intercollegiate Athletics comments thread (and be sure to note the names of the posters) – then read this one, noting the names of the posters

    then you should be able to figure it out.

    i was born and raised in md (except for 4 yrs of highschool in NJ), settled in md after graduation then work took me to NYC. would give anything to be back. then again, would that make me one of the “too many from NY and NJ” eventhough Im not really

  27. Economic segregation. A poster used this phrase much earlier in this thread and it didn’t seem to get much notice, but I do think it explains a lot. Tuition, rents, etc and other costs are all rising much faster than the wages of the average working person. Many posters here want upscale development. This is just code for ‘too expensive for anyone in a lower economic group.’

  28. jane, i really wish I could help you become a more positive person.

    I think anyone who uses “upscale” to refer to development in college park is using the term incorrectly. they just mean “nicer that tatoo parlors and water bed shops and car dealerships and palm readers and crooked leaning telephone poles”

    I dont think anyone in their right mind wants to see PG County’s Bethesda – Chevy Chase in College Park. It cant happen, the market fundamentals cant support it, we have enough of that elsewhere. What we can / should have is a hip, vibrant, edgy college town like ann arbor, berkeley, chapel hill….nice without being high end snooty like Bethesda-Chevy Chase.

    Relax, rest assured you will not have Hermes, Tiffany and Co, and the like at Rte 1 and Knox.

  29. Hey Jane, another point to ponder:

    lets just say we leave college park alone. status quo. housing supply remains constant. you do realize what that will continue to do to rents dont you? (I assume you rent because if you owned in CP you would want high end development because it would drive up the value of your property then you could cash out)

    just some food for thought

  30. Kevin Fallon said:

    What we can / should have is a hip, vibrant, edgy college town like ann arbor, berkeley, chapel hill….

    How about Austin TX which is one of the coolest college towns in the U.S.

    They use a pretty nifty looking commuter train that doesn’t need overhead wires and is pretty fast.

    http://www.news8austin.com/content/your_news/?SecID=278&ArID=194136

    Some info:

    Each car can hold 200 passengers – 100 seated – and cost just under $6 million. They have high-back seats, bicycle and overhead luggage racks and Wi-Fi connections. The rail cars are considered hybrids because they run on both a gas and electrical engine. Capital Metro spokesperson Adam Shaivitz said they’re “quieter than a bus.”

    Why the big push for light rail trolley for the Purple Line? What is the big payoff for using this slower technology that needs overhead wires?

  31. “light rail trolley” isn’t really an accurate term.

    Looks like an interesting system in Austin, but you’ll notice that it is basically a commuter rail like the MARC train. It would not be very compatible with highly pedestrian areas like those where the Purple Line is planned – thus necessitating tunnels and costing quite a bit more than light rail. The hybrid diesel and electrical engines are interesting, though I’m not sure I’d list overhead wires as a major drawback to light rail. If your concern is the CCT, I’m not sure how this kind of system is any better than light rail.

  32. David,

    The CCTrail is a concern but not my only one. If we put in a great system I am sure I will use it. By great I mean fast and scalable (extendable later) with WiFi etc..

    I must admit I am not looking forward to seeing poles for the overhead wiring running along the trail. Is there any way to avoid using overhead wiring for power?

    I do have a question as to why is there a group that only seems to support Light Rail. It seems to me that transit groups should support commuter rail (heavy rail), subway (Metro style), and even monorail, along with Light Rail. Why the fixation on Light Rail.

  33. Sorry to be picky, but since we’re already 30+ comments deep why not. Kevin I like most of the points you make, but what’s wrong with tattoo parlors in College Park? Last I checked, there are three successful, well thought of establishments in CP. It’s a college town, and Im sure all three places enjoy their locations due in part to the boost in traffic they see from the college crowd. A quick Google search suggests there are at least 5 tattoo parlors in Ann Arbor.

    Looking at the bigger picture I think this is just another small example of what makes getting a consensus on development in College Park so difficult. As I think Jane Doe tries to point out, there is such a multiplicity of viewpoints at hand. What is unwanted by one person is desirable to the next.

    How do you please as many people as possible in a diverse college town? I think Jane Doe kind of brings us back to the original message of this post, that lower income people and/or minorities often get overlooked, sometimes intentionally, when this question is being answered.

  34. The vast majority of the housing we’re talking about is student housing, not upscale condos. I’m a little confused. I’m sure most would agree that it would be preferable to replace the low density, sprawl-type buildings along route 1 with walkable 4-5 story buildings. I have a feeling you would have a hard time convincing folks that PG county needs affordable unit requirements at this point in time.

    Kevin has some valid points. If you are a homeowner, then this development would most likely increase the value of your house while at the same it would keep rents down for renters by flooding the market with a fresh supply of apartments.

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