- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Political candidates and elected officials voiced their support yesterday for a light-rail line inside the Beltway — dubbed the Inner Purple Line — that would link Metro stations in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

“A massive number of us are seeing purple,” said Delegate William Bronrott, Montgomery Democrat. “After two decades of controversy, a strong consensus is finally forming that the time has come to build the Inner Purple Line.”

The rally drew about 100 people who gathered before noon on the southwest corner of University Boulevard and New Hampshire Avenue in Langley Park. A Taco Bell restaurant on the northwest corner would be torn down for construction of the Takoma-Langley Park light-rail station.

Purple Line construction would include restoration and completion of the Capital Crescent hiker-biker trail alongside the transit line between Bethesda and Silver Spring, where it would connect to the Metropolitan Branch Trail.

The intersection of University Boulevard and New Hampshire Avenue is one of the busiest in the nation. On a typical day, 61 buses an hour lumber through its streets in addition to 85,000 cars and trucks, said Erwin Mack, executive director of Takoma/Langley Crossroads Development Authority.

“Compromise should not be a dirty word,” said Baltimore Mayor and Democratic candidate for governor Martin O’Malley, who grew up in Bethesda.

Urging the two counties to cooperate, he said, “We’re all in this together.”

The proposal has drawn bipartisan support and has been endorsed by 120 county, state and federal elected officials and candidates. As planned, it would run east and west for 14 miles, linking stations in New Carrollton, College Park, Takoma Park and Langley Park, Long Branch, Silver Spring and Bethesda.

“Studies predict 50,000 daily riders,” said Hans Riemer, Democratic candidate for the Montgomery County Council representing the Silver Spring area. “This is the biggest issue for District 5.”

“This is the most cost-effective way to deal with traffic congestion,” said Gus Alzona, Republican candidate for the 8th District seat in the House of Representatives now held by Chris Van Hollen.

Mr. Van Hollen, a Democrat, also attended yesterday’s rally. He said the Purple Line would reduce congestion and pollution and would be eligible for federal funding once state funds were allocated.

“This is the renaissance of the Purple Line,” said Delegate Peter Franchot, Montgomery Democrat and a candidate for state comptroller.

Rep. Albert R. Wynn, a Democrat who once lived near the Hampshire-Langley Shopping Center where the rally was held, said transportation lines typically were built to link residential suburbs to downtown Washington. They were to provide transportation mainly for employees and shoppers.

“But people now work in other suburbs,” Mr. Wynn said.

Another speaker said it now takes two hours during rush hours to travel between Takoma-Langley and Bethesda, adding, “It’s going to save hours and hours to get to work.”

Daily east-west travel time would be cut in half by using the Purple Line, said Webb Smedley, chairman of the Coalition to Build the Inner Purple Line. He said his group has emphasized for seven years that the light-rail transit was necessary and should be built above ground.

Maryland’s transportation department recently allocated $20 million to plan the Inner Purple Line. Construction costs are estimated at $80 million.

“The longer you wait, the more it will cost,” said state Sen. Ida G. Ruben, Montgomery Democrat.

“We’re very happy to have a part in the campaign,” said Takoma Park Mayor Kathy Porter, contending that the Purple Line would reduce traffic congestion and assist businesses in her city.

“The Purple Line is critical to Prince George’s and Montgomery and would join the two counties like brothers and sisters,” said Delegate Victor R. Ramirez, Prince George’s Democrat.

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