Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Purple Line Backers ask Leggett: Which side are you on?

Purple Line Metro Map
From Ben Ross, Action Committee for Transit:

The Action Committee for Transit called on County Executive Candidate Ike Leggett to either publicly reaffirm the commitments he has made to support above-ground construction of the Purple Line in Chevy Chase or to inform the organizations to which these commitments were made that they are no longer in effect.

A Leggett campaign reception will be held tonight at the home of Pam Browning, the organizer of an anti-Purple Line petition four years ago. The Leggett event will be from 7:00 to 9:00 tonight at 4317 Elm Street, Chevy Chase. Members of the Action Committee for Transit will be outside on the sidewalk carrying signs to show support for the Purple Line.

The sponsors of the Leggett event have been fighting for years to keep the Purple Line out of Chevy Chase. They have opposed not just the planned above-ground light rail line, but also the cut-and-cover construction method which Leggett says he would investigate as an alternative for part (but not all) of the Chevy Chase portion of the light rail line. (See attached fact sheet with quotes.)

The announced theme of the Leggett reception is "save the trail" - a euphemism for stopping any rail transit through Chevy Chase. Among the directors of the "Save the Trail" organization is the Vice President for Government Affairs of the National Asphalt Pavement Association, Jay Hansen. "Asphalt Lobbyists for Global Warming would be a more accurate name than Save the Trail," commented Action Committee for Transit Vice-President Richard Hoye, a former Montgomery County bicyclist of the year.

This is the one concern I have with "Rails to Trails" programs. You create a built in constituency to oppose transit, if people aren't willing to co-locate transit and trails.

In recent months, Leggett has described himself as an Inner Purple Line supporter. For example, he told the Metropolitan Washington AFL-CIO, which will vote on endorsement next Tuesday, that he supports the light rail line.

Whatever happened to the Purple Line?

This is text from the "fact sheet" distributed with the ACT communique:

Sponsors of the June 9 “Save the Trail” Reception Simply Oppose the Inner Purple Line Whether Built Above Ground or by Cut-and-Cover

The Inner Purple Line lacks vision and would fail to meet the long term transportation needs of the Region. Studies have shown:
* The Inner Purple Line would fail to provide any relief from our existing and predicted future traffic congestion;
- Pam Browning,

Pam Browning. . . wished the state would consider increasing bus service along East-West Highway. “With the intersection improvements that are scheduled to be started soon at East-West Highway and Connecticut Avenue, East-West Highway will provide a very quick connection between Bethesda and Silver Spring,” she said. Flanagan’s tunneling approach would also save the trail and surrounding trees, Browning said, though only if a “cut and cover” approach could be avoided.
- Gazette, May 19, 2003

“Developers are the engine that is pushing the light rail. If the rail is built, more high rises and increased density will be allowed along Connecticut Avenue and in downtown Bethesda.
. . . No wonder they are in such a hurry to get the light rail.”
- Pam Browning, Gazette, June 4, 2003

East Bethesda Citizens Association has opposed any sort of inside-the-Beltway train for years, said Isaac Hantman, who focuses on trail issues for the association.
- Gazette, Nov. 14, 2001

“To spend over $50 million per mile and get no benefit is a misuse of public funds. Look at the nearly empty buses on East-West Highway during rush hour right now. A light rail or transitway will make no difference in traffic. . . “This kind of development [high-density dwellings in Bethesda and Chevy Chase] will totally change the character of our neighborhoods. It will bring crime and lower property values.”
- Roger Mitchell,, as posted as of 3/30/02

Pam Browning, Ed Finn and I from the town continue to work hard to prevent the placing of a bus or train route down the Capital Crescent Trail between Bethesda and Silver Spring. We are urging that if buses are the transportation of choice for this plan, that the Governor review the bus route on East-West Highway between Bethesda and Silver Spring which carries people efficiently and in a timely manner,. . . He should also consider the bus route. . . along Jones Bridge Road.
- Mier Wolf, Town of Chevy Chase Forecast, April 2003.

Wolf’s mention of Ed Finn shows that Finn, the then-president of the Committee to Save the Trail, spoke for Wolf as well when he said “We’re dead set against cut-and-cover.” (Gazette, March 21, 2003)
Purple Line Map  DC Metro Sprawl.gif

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