March 9, 2011
Woodside community discusses Capital Crescent Trail (MoCo Gazette)
by Kristi Tousignant

Residents of the Woodside community in Silver Spring met with representatives from the state and county Tuesday night to discuss the proposed extension of the Capital Crescent Trail.

The proposed trail route has aroused concern among some community members in recent months. Residents who live in the area of Third Avenue of Woodside worry that the trail’s proximity to their homes will be disruptive. Others contend the plan has received community support for years and will enhance the community.

The Capital Crescent Trail extension is part of the proposed Purple Line project. The Purple Line is a planned light rail line that would run from Bethesda to Silver Spring through College Park and end in New Carrollton.

The Capital Crescent Trail is a pedestrian and bike trail that runs from Georgetown to west Silver Spring. Under the Purple Line proposal, the Capital Crescent Trail would be extended through the western part of Woodside, cross 16th Street and run past Third Avenue, ending in downtown Silver Spring.

Those against the trail contend that they were never properly informed about the trail route, which has caused a series of meetings about the trail in the past few months. Community members met with Maryland Transit Administration engineers on a walk-along of the planned trail a few weeks ago.

“We need information so these things can be weighed out by voters and elected officials,” Judy Boggess of Woodside said. “That information is lacking.”

However, the Woodside Civic Association has long been in support of the planned trail route, President Webb Smedley said.

Around 20 residents on both sides of the issue attended the meeting Tuesday, as well as representatives of the Maryland Transit Administration. Speakers at the meeting included representatives from Montgomery County Council President Valerie Ervin’s (D-Dist. 5) office, County Councilman Marc Elrich’s (D-At large) office, the Maryland Department of Transportation, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and Montgomery County Police Department.

Those in opposition to the trail were concerned about zoning issues, congestion, graffiti, lighting, landscaping and the impact on traffic patterns.

Many were concerned about the cost of the trail extension, which is projected at $65 million.

While a few residents were concerned about the economic impact of the trail, MTA’s Mike Madden, project manager for the Purple Line, pointed out that an economic analysis of a trail was not realistic.

“I don’t know how you would economically justify a trail,” Madden said. “It’s like trying to justify a park.”

Those in favor of the trail, on the other hand, were worried the trail would not get enough money.

“I would like to see the land reclaimed to make sure this is an attractive stretch of the bike trail,” Smedley said. “I want to caution people. I don’t want to end up with a discount trail. Let’s talk about getting enough money to get a good trail.”

Sylvia Curley of Woodside lives on the corner of Third Avenue and North Springwood Drive, where she said she is kept up at night by lights from the nearby strip mall and noises from the CSX tracks. She spoke out at the meeting, saying that she is fearful the trail and Purple line would only increase the noise and light pollution in her home.

“If it’s a question about the quality of life or user-friendliness, you have got to sell that a little harder, because I’m not buying it,” Curley said at the meeting.

Officials said details for the trail project – such as specifics on walls, lighting and plans for graffiti removal — were still undecided, because the whole Purple Line project is still in its planning stages.

“We made it clear on the walk-through that the route is not changing,” Madden said. “As far as things like graffiti are concerned, we are not there, yet.”

Officials repeatedly assured community members there would be many opportunities to provide input on trail details before construction broke ground.

“Your input is desired and needed,” Richard Romer of Valerie Ervin’s office said. “That is what we are all here today for.”

They also emphasized there would be many more meetings in the future to discuss trail details.

“This is not the end point,” Madden said. “We are not going to go off into offices or boxes and design something.”