September 26, 2012
Preserve the Capital Crescent Trail
Montgomery County Gazette

I want to thank Jake Lynch for his letter to the editor, “Trail leads to more than just area’s past,” (Sept. 12), in which he reminds us of our own local history in creating the current Capital Crescent Trail (CCT) from the abandoned CSX rail line, portions of which were recently unearthed in the construction taking place at the intersection of Bethesda and Woodmont avenues.

I wish that my letter to the editor could end on the upbeat note that Jake’s did, but it cannot. Jake sees the CCT in Bethesda as an example to communities across America of “… an attempt to build better neighborhoods that work for humans as well as they do for cars … .”

Unfortunately, the truth is that the eastern portion of the CCT that feeds into Bethesda, and conceptually yields at least half of the benefits realized by the Bethesda community today, is under grave threat in the form of the proposed Purple Line. If it is built according to the current plans of the Maryland Transit Authority, the trail as we know it will disappear. Clear cutting of close to 20 acres of scarce urban tree cover and construction of two high speed trains will replace miles of our CCT, and disrupt settled neighborhoods from Bethesda to Silver Spring.

The MTA, and our state and local politicians, tell us that a corridor paralleling the trains will be built eventually, to allow pedestrian and bicycle traffic; but it will no longer be tranquil, shady, safe or inviting to people of all ages. It will no longer be a model to other urban areas in America nor yield the benefits to neighborhoods that the present CCT does.

Those in elected office and the business community who believe that the new treeless, noisy CCT will write a new and better history for Bethesda than the one we’ve had are taking a hugely expensive and environmentally destructive gamble on behalf of citizens. An east-west mass transit option is needed, and is possible, but it should not come at the cost of destroying our CCT.

Terri Lukas, Chevy Chase