The Purple Line is a proposed light-rail transit line planned run from Bethesda New Carrollton passing through Silver Spring and College Park along the route. Unlike the Metro (known as “heavy rail”), the Purple Line will run along streets and occasionally along its own exclusive track. The following is a map by the Washington Post that is a good representation of the proposed route being considered.
Map courtesy of the Washington Post
The Purple Line is currently undergoing an extensive planning review that will examine environmental, community, noise, and historical impacts. The state’s project timeline expects construction to begin in 2012 and the transitway (or pieces of it) to begin thereafter: DEIS Public Hearings (Winter – Spring 2008), Selection of Locally Preferred Alternative (Spring – Summer 2008), Application for Federal Funding (2008), Construction (Spring 2012 – Summer 2015). The Maryland Transit Administration runs a detailed project website with much more information.
After the Purple Line and the Virginia Silver Line are built the region’s Metrorail system will resemble this map, created by Rethink College Park contributor Eric Fidler.
In College Park, a debate has emerged regarding the best location for the Purple Line on campus. The Maryland Transit Administration has proposed locating the line on Campus Drive after its planned closure to automobiles. A light rail station would be located near the entrance to the student union and the current Shuttle-UM depot (The renderings above and below show this location). However, University administrators are vehemently opposed to such an alignment and would instead have proposed alternative alignment because they would like to see Campus Drive between the ‘M’ Circle and Cole Student Activities building closed to all cars and transit vehicles in order to make way for a “major pedestrian walking mall.”
The image above depicts the MTA’s preferred alignment (in purple) along with University Administrator’s proposed Preinkert/ Chapel Drive alignment (in red) on south campus. The orange line represents the University’s original alignment proposal on north campus (a.k.a. the Stadium Drive Alignment) once they figured out a tunnel would not be feasible. The north campus alignment was later dropped because of cost-effectiveness concerns as well as potential impacts on campus research activities sensitive to electromagnetic interference. MTA is currently studying the Campus Drive and Preinkert/Chapel Drive alignments at the behest of UMD.
Alignment Controversy time line:
- 3/30/07: Interim UMD VP Brewer writes letter to MTA opposing any at-grade alignment across campus
- 4/25/07: RTCP Editor David Daddio/Student Leaders condemn UMD’s ill-fated demands for a tunnel under campus in a letter CCed to 30 local elected officials
- 5/13/07: Washington Post coverage on RTCP/Student Leaders letter
- 5/16/09: Dr. Mote’s response to RTCP/Student Leaders letter
- 10/25/07: Dr. Mote announces support for at-grade Purple Line, opposes Campus Drive alignment and proposes the Stadium Drive alignment in a Diamondback Op-Ed
- 10/26/07: RTCP Editor Rob Goodspeed successfully argues that the Purple Line should be routed through, not around, East Campus
- 10/29/07: Rethink College Park Editors David Daddio and Rob Goodspeed Critique Stadium Drive alignment, insist Campus Drive is the best alignment for UMD
- 10/30/07: Diamondback covers contentious MTA Focus Group meeting where UMD employees with administrative talking points insist on Stadium Drive alignment
- 10/30/07: Diamondback staff editorial critiques the Stadium Drive alignment
- 11/9/07: RTCP Editor Rob Goodspeed analyzes MTA data supporting Campus Drive alignment
- 11/19/07: Graduate Student Government unanimously passes resolution supporting Campus Drive alignment (PDF)
- 12/2/07: RTCP Contributer Eric Fidler outlines how former UMD Administration is responsible for the unfortunate location of the Metrorail Green Line Stop
- 1/8/08 RTCP Editor Rob Goodspeed shows how light rail technology works without destroying research at other universities
- 1/22/08: Washington Post coverage on UMD wanting Purple Line off Campus Drive, UMD abandons Stadium Drive for Preinkert/Chapel Drive alignment
Dozens of university donors, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members have signed on to our position opposing the University Administrations alignment proposal. Click here to add your name. We are optimistic the university will be able to seize the opportunity to undo the mistake of locating the Metrorail station so far away and truly become a pedestrian-oriented campus.