There seems to be some concern about the ability to get the CCT through the Air Rights Tunnel
The 1,000-foot tunnel near East-West Highway is proposed to accommodate rail cars and part of a 4.5-mile bicycle trail between downtown Bethesda and the Silver Spring transit center, but engineers can't make both fit without cutting into the foundations of buildings on Wisconsin Avenue. A bike tunnel now sits between above-ground buildings and their foundations, but the project design calls for the rail tunnel to be built below the bike path.
The two concerns are how lowering the tunnel will effect the buildings and, of course, money.
"I would say we have to be open to alternatives, in case the tunnel physically isn't feasible or the cost is unaffordable — we haven't come to those conclusions yet," Erenrich said.
It seems too early to panic IMO
Despite that challenge and a $20 million to $25 million cost estimate, for which no funding has been secured, the county, state and building owners are moving forward with engineering studies, expected to be complete this spring. If those problems can't be solved, one option would be to build the bike path above ground, said Gary Erenrich
Maryland Transit Administration and the county Department of Transportation are working with the buildings' owners on engineering studies that will provide more detail about how lowering tracks will affect the structural integrity of the buildings, which Madden said is among his major concerns about the tunnel.
"Personally, I don't think our engineering studies will tell us anything that says we can't do it," Madden said. "But we want to be able to tell the county."
It seems that Pat Burda - who opposes the Purple Line - and Peter Gray of CCCT are in agreement about where the trail should be. Neither thinks the trail should be above ground.
Peter Gray, vice chairman of the Coalition of the Capital Crescent Trail, favors an underground tunnel and believes an above-ground bike path would unnecessarily split the Capital Crescent Trail and the Georgetown Branch. The state and county should find a way to pay for the project, even if it is expensive, he said.
"I mean, times are lean, but it would be a huge disservice to the trail and to the county to cut it in two," Gray said.
Gray said he is concerned about the outcome of the entire trail, but is not overly worried that the tunnel project will get nixed. Part of his confidence is due to longstanding support from the Montgomery County Council.
Madden also pointed out that the bike path in the tunnel is part of the project's master plan and supported by the County Council.
In the coming year, the county and MTA will hold community meetings about neighborhood-specific elements of the project, such as Metro stations, the trail and alignment through Chevy Chase and Bethesda, Madden said.