- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 30, 2001

Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening said yesterday he will direct state dollars and effort to building the next Metrorail line inside, rather than outside, the Capital Beltway.
Metrorail lines run from Maryland and Virginia into the District, but the suburbs have surpassed the city as major employment centers and demand for new transit and road connections between the suburbs have driven transportation policy debate in the region for more than two decades.
The decision of Mr. Glendening, a Democrat, coincides with his Smart Growth policy that aims to curb sprawl by targeting spending to projects that support development and growth in older communities that have the most infrastructure such as rail, roads and sewers in place.
State and local leaders say calls and letters indicate residents of Montgomery and Prince George's counties overwhelmingly favor building the Purple Line inside the Beltway, above and below ground, with stops in Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Silver Spring, Takoma Park/Langley Park, Riverdale, College Park and New Carrollton.
But the proposal has some vocal opponents, particularly in Montgomery County, where Mr. Glendening's decision makes an upcoming County Council recommendation almost moot.
Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan favors building the Purple Line outside the Beltway mostly underground from Rock Spring Park, with connections at Grosvenor, Silver Spring and Wheaton to New Carrollton.
The council had postponed its recommendation scheduled to go forward by a vote today while Mr. Duncan tried to win support for a compromise plan.
"Governor Glendening has spoken for Montgomery County without hearing from our residents and is recommending a course of action that chooses today's needs over the needs of the future," Mr. Duncan told the Associated Press.
Proponents of an "outer-Beltway" Purple Line including some Bethesda-Chevy Chase residents who want to preserve a hiker-biker trail and two holes of Columbia Country Club's golf course argue that the new Metrorail line is needed most outside the Beltway because most growth will have to occur there.
"Our choice should be based on the needs of the region two decades from now," Mr. Duncan, also a Democrat, said in a statement denouncing the governor's action.
Montgomery County Council member Howard Denis, a Republican, agreed.
"The quarterback throws the ball to where he thinks the receiver is going to be when the ball comes down, not where he wants him to be," Mr. Denis said.
Prince George's County Council member Peter Shapiro said the decision should also be about "economic justice" for struggling low-income workers, many of whom are recent immigrants, who must endure long and winding bus commutes to get to their jobs at restaurants and country clubs.
With competition for federal transportation funds expected to be tough when Congress authorizes new projects in 2003, state and local leaders need to unite behind his plan to build a Purple Line inside the Beltway, Mr. Glendening said.
Delegate Peter Franchot, a Montgomery County Democrat who is chairman of a key state Appropriations subcommittee, said he thinks the County Council will back the governor's plan if members "look at the merits and put politics aside."
Running the Purple Line inside the Beltway is estimated to cost $1.2 billion; outside, it would cost $4 billion.
"People say it will be expensive, but I say roads will be more expensive, both in terms of dollars and cost to our environment," Mr. Glendening said.
Current Maryland Department of Transportation estimates show an "inner" Purple Line would draw 71,000 riders and take 400 cars off the Beltway; an "outer" line would draw 79,000 riders and take 800 cars off the Beltway.
Construction of the Purple Line would begin in 2008 and be completed in 2012.
Mr. Glendening, who leaves office in 2003, also reaffirmed his support for running light-rail lines across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and said he also supports light-rail service from the Shady Grove Metro station to Clarksburg and through Southern Maryland.

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