Despite the fact that people had been talking about the purple line for 20+ years, the beginning of construction, and closure of the Georgetown Branch, still came suddenly and as a bit of a surprise. One result was that cyclists in the area were left without a key bike route, a situation made worse by the Town of Chevy Chase's refusal to allow a signed interim route on their streets. WABA is arguing that this is as good a reason as any for Montgomery County to rapidly fund a complete, protected bicycle network in Bethesda. This would include
- Woodmont Ave – a 2-way protected bike lane from Wisconsin Ave at Leland St to Norfolk Ave, is the pivotal backbone of the network. It will connect the Capital Crescent Trail to the Bethesda Trolley Trail via Norfolk Ave and the Interim Georgetown Branch Trail along Jones Bridge Rd and Maryland Ave. via Cheltenham Dr.
- Montgomery Ln / Ave – a 2-way protected bike lane will connect Woodmont Ave to Pearl St. and East West Highway, creating a safe crossing of Wisconsin Ave and a new bicycle link to Bethesda / Chevy Chase High School and the many stores and offices on Montgomery Ave.
- Pearl St / Maryland Ave Bikeway – bike lanes and traffic calming will create a low-stress neighborhood bikeway from Montgomery Ave to the Jones Bridge Rd.
- Norfolk Ave / Cheltenham Dr. Bikeway – bike lanes and traffic-calmed neighborhood streets from Woodmont to Pearl St. will create a new safe crossing of Wisconsin Ave and a northern link to the Interim Georgetown Branch Trail.
- Capital Crescent Trail Surface Route – a 2-way protected bike lane crossing Wisconsin Ave. from Woodmont Ave to Elm St via Bethesda Ave, Willow Ln and 47th St. This will reconnect East Bethesda and Chevy Chase residents south of the now-closed Georgetown Branch Trail and serve the important trail crossing while a new trail tunnel is designed and built.
Funds are needed this spring and in July to build these essential safety improvements. Montgomery County’s budget process is already underway. The Woodmont Ave protected bike lane needs more than $1.5 million to construct and additional funds are required for improvements to Montgomery Ln, Pearl Street, Maryland Avenue and Cheltenham Drive to complete the core network.
There's a petition at their website.
Speaking of it being surprising
Travis Ready, a lieutenant commander with the U.S. Public Health Service, bought his home near the intersection of Jones Mill and Jones Bridge roads in Chevy Chase a little more than two years ago.
He knew the Purple Line was a possibility, but he wasn’t sure if it would ever be built on the Georgetown Branch Trail that runs directly behind his home.
Now they're busy clearing trees, creating enormous piles of mulch, which is something of a nuisance to neighbors.
Some of the most visible cleared spots between Bethesda and Silver Spring include where the Purple Line will pass under Jones Mill Road near Ready’s home and where the line will cross over Connecticut Avenue on a bridge next to the future Chevy Chase Lake station.
Anyone who's lived near construction can sympathize. I live about a mile away, but the driving of piles for the 11th Street Bridge used to shake my house.
Carla Julian, a spokeswoman for Purple Line Transit Partners, wrote in an email that crews are governed by noise limits in its $5.6 billion, 36-year agreement with the state to build, operate and maintain the line.
She noted that there are some permanent noise monitors in place and more will be installed when tree clearing is complete. Some crew members use handheld noise and vibration monitors while trees are being cut down until the permanent monitors can be installed, according to Julian.
She said tree clearing along the route will wrap up in April, then restart in the fall.
Julian wrote that after crews finish the tree-clearing process, they’ll begin excavating to build the line’s embankment and installing utilities. She wrote “as with all construction, there will be noise associated with the progress.”
Some of the neighbors, those who opposed the Purple Line, think this will lower their property values, while others acknowledge that it could raise it but states that
“I don’t care about property value. I care about peace and a happy place to live,” she said.
In related news, Chevy Chase voted not to fund the lawsuits for the so-called "Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail" and they lost one of their lawsuits.
approving the money would have “called into question” the town’s policy to ease the impact of the Purple Line project on the town and could put the town back into a position of opposition. The town switched to the mitigation policy in 2015 when it stopped formally opposing the 16.2-mile light-rail project.
It still annoys me to hear them called a "trail group" since they're really an anti-Purple Line group. But maybe now that all their opposition has been for nothing, they'll redirect their friendship towards making the best Capital Crescent Trail possible.
In an opinion issued Tuesday, judges on the federal court in Washington, D.C., ruled that the Federal Transit Administration and Maryland Transit Administration properly studied the impact Metro’s problems would have on the light-rail project being built in Maryland. As a result, the three judge panel ruled the transit agencies would not have to conduct a new environmental study to examine other potential routes for the Purple Line.
The ruling is likely a major blow to the trail group Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail and the two Town of Chevy Chase residents who had pursued the case against the Purple Line in federal court since 2014.
Still, they aren't done yet.
The trail group and Town of Chevy Chase residents are also pursuing a second case contesting whether the federal government properly vetted the project before providing the federal funding for it. Leon is reviewing that case in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. Earlier this month, attorneys for the state filed a motion to dismiss the case. The plaintiffs could also request the U.S. Supreme Court review the Appeals Court ruling in the Metro-related case.