April 20, 2011
Montgomery County Gazette
Capital Crescent Trail enthusiasts concerned Purple Line will make byway less enjoyable
By Sarah Gantz

Capital Crescent Trail enthusiasts and neighbors continue to try to convince state officials that a planned light rail will wreck the beauty and appeal of the trail.

About 100 people met with the Maryland Transit Administration’s Purple Line team April 13 to ask questions and share their opinions about the $1.6 billion project, a light rail that would connect Bethesda and New Carrollton and paved Capital Crescent Trail.

Noise, trees and ambiance were among the most common concerns expressed by trail users at the meeting at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.

“I think it’s a big waste of money,” said Joe Dura of Chevy Chase. Dura said he is concerned that having a light rail next to the trail will deteriorate the quality of the experience of being on the trail, where he walks his dog daily.

“If you’re walking next to a train that comes by every five or six minutes, that’s going to deteriorate the enjoyment of using it,” Dura said.

And if the noise scared his dog, Dura said he would stop using the trail.

The trail and light rail would be built within a 66-foot-wide right of way, with the trail being 12 feet wide in most areas.

Purple Line project manager Michael Madden displayed plans that show the trail elevated from the rail with plant buffers.

The trail represents about $65 million of the $1.6 billion cost.

Concern about the trail and how its quality will be affected by the proximity of a rail line has drawn interest of trail users from neighboring communities, as well as the ones that will be bisected by rail tracks.

“It won’t be enticing,” said Aileen Worthington, of Washington, D.C.

Worthington said she worries the trail will be less peaceful and feel less natural if the transit creates noise and requires that too many trees be removed, eliminating natural shade.