Two County Council members want County Executive Isiah Leggett to support a group of neighborhood associations along the Purple Line route seeking noise, vibration and other mitigation from the 16-mile light rail system.
Councilmembers Roger Berliner and Cherri Branson on Monday penned a letter to Leggett asking for his support for the Coalition of Purple Line Neighborhoods (COPLN), a group organized in December with concerns about noise, vibration, tree loss, tree replacement, pedestrian and traffic safety issues surrounding the Purple Line.
COPLN includes neighborhood or civic groups representing Coquelin Run, Chevy Chase/Edgevale, East Bethesda, Kentbury Drive, Chevy Chase Hills, The Hamlets, Seven Oaks/Evanswood, North Woodside, Rosemary Hills, Lyttonsville, Park Hills and Sligo Branview, plus the Town of Chevy Chase.
Berliner and Branson called for Leggett to create a formal task force including COPLN members that would deal with DOT, MTA and the MTA’s yet-to-be picked private concessionaire during the final design, construction and initial operation of the Purple Line.
The council members also want Leggett to organize a meeting with State Senators Brian Frosh (Dist. 16) Rich Madaleno (Dist. 18) and Jamie Raskin (Dist. 20), MCDOT and the MTA to begin addressing the problems.
“Many of these residents, despite their vigorous engagement, feel disappointed in how their input has been received by the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) and County Department of Transportation (DOT) to date,” read the letter. “We can and should do better for our residents, which is why we request that you establish an advisory body to ensure that we are designing a project that minimizes community and environmental impacts while delivering improved accessibility and transit connectivity that gets people where they want to go.”
Many along the Purple Line route, which is proposed for the existing Georgetown Branch Extension of the Capital Crescent Trail, are worried about noise, pedestrian crossings and tree loss.
The Town of Chevy Chase recently agreed to a $350,000 contract with a cadre of legal and lobbying firms to make its case against the Purple Line as proposed by the MTA in its Final Environmental Impact Statement.
Included in the group is Alexander & Cleaver, a firm that lobbies lawmakers in Annapolis. The Town is opposed to the $2.37 billion system being built on the Capital Crescent Trail, which runs behind a number of homes in the Town.
But it also wants to push the MTA to guarantee certain mitigation techniques — including a four-foot high noise reduction wall the MTA promised in February 2013 but did not include in the FEIS.
The Purple Line got good news on the federal funding front last week when President Barack Obama recommended $100 million in the upcoming fiscal year for the project. The MTA is still waiting for a federal Record of Decision on its FEIS, which would finalize the mitigation the agency and a private concessionaire would be required to provide.