Statement by Ajay Bhatt, President of Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail on Governor Hogan’s announcement to proceed with the Purple Line

Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail is truly disappointed by Governor Larry Hogan’s decision to move forward with the controversial Purple Line. The decision does not take into account very serious questions about the justifications for this transit project, its actual costs for years to come to the taxpayers of Maryland, and the inadequate steps taken by the State to address environmental issues that would affect residents throughout Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties and the Anacostia, Potomac, and Chesapeake Bay watersheds. What’s more, these environmental issues may be further exacerbated by the budget cuts and changes to the project required by the Governor’s decision.

Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail strongly supports mass transit that is economically viable and beneficial and that sustains green space and quality of life for the long term.  We do not support the Purple Line project because it will, at great cost, do more harm than good, and will sacrifice cherished (and not so abundant) green space.  In addition to stating our economic and environmental concerns, we speak on behalf of tens of thousands of people throughout the region, who enjoy the Capital Crescent Trail as a shaded park and want to protect this green space for current and future generations.

The Trail that exists along part of the proposed Purple Line route functions a treasured linear park enjoyed by tens of thousands each week for both recreation and commuting purposes. A train system running in its place, with a paved-over, dangerous, treeless sidewalk is no substitute.

Worse yet, the many drawbacks of the Purple Line do not appear to be balanced by benefits, as the estimates for costs, ridership, and economic development effects are neither transparent nor reliable, and have been contradicted by numerous independent studies.

The Purple Line is a poorly planned project. Many of its failings involve attempts to avoid or ignore important and long-standing laws and regulations at the County, State and Federal levels that are in place to prevent damage to the environment and to the quality of life of Maryland and District of Columbia residents. The Purple Line would bring disruption, hardship and danger to residents, drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians due to noise, safety concerns, division of neighborhoods, and disruption of traffic along the route.

The State’s own survey of the project’s impact on regional watersheds, including a major increase in stormwater runoff and sediment as well as release of unknown amounts of hazardous wastes from more than 500 disturbed hazardous materials sites shows a lack of responsible consideration of the effect the Purple Line will have.  In addition, the clear-cutting of 47 acres of forest to make way for the Purple Line is too much to bear for the regional environment. This forested buffer sustains not only the many people who use and enjoy the trail, but also protects sources of freshwater and wildlife habitat, including those of endangered species, along the Anacostia and Rock Creek watersheds.

Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail remains committed to pursuing our current federal lawsuit and the possible state of Maryland lawsuit to hold decision-makers accountable for their failure to obtain key federal environmental permits and their failure to disclose the project’s full environmental, economic and quality of life repercussions, and to properly assess alternatives.

Our vision is a linear park that will permanently connect not only the C&O Canal to Bethesda, but also Bethesda to Rock Creek Park and to Silver Spring, preserving and enhancing a natural linear greenway between the two largest population centers in Montgomery County and beyond.

We are steadfast in our demand that the State provide the project details that should have been presented to the people of the region in both the Final Environmental Impact Statement and the Record of Decision. Therefore, we are working through the federal court and have provided a notice of intent to also sue under Maryland law — to produce honest answers and prevent the unwarranted and illegal destruction of the trail.

Please join us in our fight for government accountability, fiscal responsibility, quality of life and environmental stewardship by supporting our efforts.

Save the Trail!