Thursday, January 15, 2009

Planning Board approves light rail for Purple Line - Gazette

Montgomery County Council to meet next after board's 4-1 approval

by Andrew Ujifusa | Staff Writer | Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009

The Planning Board voted to approve light rail along the Capital Crescent Trail for the Purple Line Thursday afternoon by a 4-1 vote.

Montgomery County Planning Board commissioners cited the greater capacity afforded by the medium-investment light rail project and its greater advantages in developing urban areas.

The board's recommendation on the project, which would connect Bethesda to New Carrollton via Silver Spring over 16 miles, now goes to the County Council and the Maryland Transit Administration. The council meets on the Purple Line in committee on Jan. 22 and in full session on Jan. 27.

At the conclusion of a five-hour hearing, Chairman Royce Hanson said he thought the project needed to be looked at in a 50- to 60-year time frame, and that it fit better in the area.

"It's interesting. It draws people to it. It works quite well in these environments," Hanson said. "I think the stations can be designed for both easy transfer between modes and attract people to areas."

Much of the discussion in the hearing focused on the greater capacity and subsequently less transportation congestion posed by light rail.

"I think we should plan for what we think we should need," said Vice-Chairman John Robinson.

Commissioner Jean Cryor voted for the light rail but decried the damage she thought light rail would do to the Capital Crescent Trail.

Amy Presley, the only commissioner voting against light rail, said she supported light rail on many fronts but said she simply did not think the project would be built in time to satisfy the current dire transportation needs.

"I just can't buy that it'll work as quickly as we want it to," Presley said.

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