Action Alert: Tunnel Funding Update

We sent out a notice yesterday afternoon about a Montgomery County Transportation and Environment Committee (T&E) meeting being held today, Thursday, March 5 at 2 pm, and asked you to send an email to T&E committee members to show your support for finding the funding to complete the tunnel. We have received additional information regarding the meeting we want to share:

The tunnel is not on the formal agenda for today's meeting, but we understand the topic will be raised and folks who would like to attend to show their support are welcome to do so. The formal scheduled hearing on the Capital Crescent Trail tunnel will take place in mid-to-late April and we will be sure to notify you of that meeting in advance.

At present, the hardworking staff and contractors are working to find ways to better fit its costs in Montgomery County's tight fiscal environment. Remember, even if savings are found, we will need our Councilmembers to work hard to make the hard trade-offs needed to find the additional funding, a process that begins well before we know those final numbers.

Thanks to those who have sent letters encouraging the completion of the tunnel. Your support is meaningful and important, so do keep those coming (and copy Purple Line NOW if you remember!)

See our Action Alert below for all the details.

Many of you know that in his most recent budget, the Montgomery County Executive failed to fund a long-promised tunnel for pedestrians and bikers in Bethesda as part of the Purple Line project which includes completing the Capital Crescent Trail from Bethesda to Silver Spring.

Please take a moment to email T&E committee members (individual emails are best, we understand), and let them know you want them to champion the completion of the tunnel as it was proposed and designed years ago. Their names and email addresses are at the end of this alert.

If we miss this window to construct the underpass alongside the Purple Line now, the obstacles to completing the tunnel in future years may prove insurmountable. Don’t be fooled by talk about being able to push the construction of the tunnel to a later date. Down the road, costs and disruption will be magnified, and delaying will risk compounding promises broken to the community. While we understand there will be tough trade-offs when searching for additional funding, if we miss this chance to encourage the Council to find the funding for the tunnel now, the trail will open incomplete and Montgomery County would take an unprecedented step back on its Vision Zero goals.

Here is the background you need to know before writing your email:

  • The Wisconsin underpass is not a new idea, it replaces a previously existing tunnel on the interim trail that led to the heart of downtown Bethesda, one that the last county council promised to replace as part of constructing the Purple Line.
  • Just as the Purple Line connects multiple Marc and Metro lines, the trail from Silver Spring to Bethesda will be a linchpin to a larger trail network, including the remainder of the Capital Crescent Trail, the Green Trail, and the Metropolitan Branch. This network is not just useful to recreation, but helps people access jobs, housing, and shopping, and its reach is magnified by the bike-friendly Purple Line.
  • The Bethesda to Silver Spring portion of the Capital Crescent trail will also be separated from highway traffic when it crosses Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase and Colesville Road in Silver Spring. The trail must also be separated from highway traffic when it crosses Wisconsin Avenue (as it did in the past) and continue below-grade in the tunnel.

Finally, it is important for all of us to understand and emphasize to our Councilmembers that no matter where you work or live, the tunnel will benefit the region as a whole. The trail will continue to serve as a commuter route for pedestrians and bikers from one end of the Purple Line corridor to the other. Having a safe crossing, as promised, benefits all of us.  

Please emphasize to the Council that you want them to make the tunnel’s completion a priority – many are leaning that way, but they need to know you understand there will be trade-offs with other projects. Tell them why the tunnel is important to you. And, if you remember, please copy us on your email.

Thank you for taking the time to send an email to the Councilmembers below. We do not expect any decisions regarding the funding to come out of today's meeting, but it is important they proceed with the understanding that they have our community’s support.

 T&E Committee Members (and Councilmember Friedson, in whose district the tunnel will reside):

As always, we will keep an eye on the proceedings and the progress as this issue makes its way through the process. Thank you for your time and your help!


Purple Line NOW Action Alert - Please Support House Bill 540!

We wanted to alert you to HB 540, a bill that Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins (Montgomery County, District 20) has introduced regarding the State Income and Property Tax Credits – Purple Line Construction Zone.

The House Ways and Means Committee will hear the bill THIS Thursday, February 20, at 1 pm.

The bill allows “certain qualified businesses impacted by the construction of the Purple Line light rail project in Montgomery County and Prince George's County a credit against the State income tax and State property tax; requiring the Department of Transportation to determine the eligible amount of the income tax credit; making the income tax credit refundable; requiring the Department to administer the income tax credit; requiring the Department to make determinations and implement processes relevant to certifying qualified businesses.”

We need your help to make sure this bill gets passed this year! Please:

  • Forward this Action Alert to impacted businesses, community listserves, and email lists.
  • Take a moment to support this bill by contacting one of the following Delegates who are co-sponsors on the bill – hearing from you helps!

You can read the full bill here: HB 540 and follow its progress here.

We will continue to update you as the bill makes its way through the House. Make sure you are signed up for timely alerts from Purple Line NOW via our Twitter and Facebook pages, and at our website Purple Line NOW.


Purple Line NOW News - February 12, 2020

In today's edition of Purple Line NOW News, here's what you'll find:

  • Capital Crescent Trail Tunnel
  • Temporary Bus Stop Location Changes
  • Photos from Around the Purple Line Corridor
  • Mark Your Calendar for the Next Purple Line Forum: April 15!

Share This Newsletter

Please feel free to share this newsletter - no permission from us needed! You can always find a link to our newsletter on our Purple Line NOW website which makes it easy to share with your friends, neighbors, constituents, customers, and employees.

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CONSTRUCTION NEWS TO KNOW

Capital Crescent Trail Tunnel

We have several updates for you today, first and foremost, Purple Line NOW’s response to the news that the pedestrian and bicycle tunnel under Wisconsin Avenue (at the west end of the line) has not been added to the Capital Improvement Plan. County Executive Elrich declined to add funding for the project to his budget, citing increasing cost estimates as engineering designs became more complete. You can read more about that decision here.

PLN supports adding the tunnel into the budget and fulfilling the commitment made to the community years ago. As most of you know, the project has the support of the hiking and biking community precisely because of the promise to complete the trail and to commit to building the tunnel so that bikers and pedestrians can have a safe and efficient crossing. 

The decision to add the tunnel to the budget now rests with the Montgomery County Council. If you share our belief that trail users should have a quality alternative to crossing busy Wisconsin at-grade, we encourage you to connect with the Council Member for your district, as well as all At-Large Council Members, and ask them to prioritize funding in the coming budget.

Purple Line NOW Board President Ralph Bennett testified to the County Council last Thursday on behalf of adding the tunnel to the county budget. Here is his testimony:

My name is Ralph Bennett; I am Board President of Purple Line NOW, longtime advocates for the project.

We understand that the pedestrian/bicycle tunnel under Wisconsin Avenue at the West end of the line has been completely deleted from the Capital Improvement Plan, both for next year and beyond. There are two problems for us with this proposal.

Commitments were made years ago to complete the Capital Crescent Trail with a parallel pedestrian/bicycle path parallel to the Purple Line Tracks under Wisconsin Ave.

We understand that construction complexities have caused the cost of the tunnel to rise as a result of construction of the replacement of the Apex Building over the Bethesda Purple Line Station – precisely the kind of capital investment the Purple Line was predicted and intended to stimulate.

We do not feel that this complexity justifies abandoning commitments made about the project, particularly given the added tax revenue the new building will provide.

Moreover, the at-grade alternative proposed compromises the efficient, safe nature of the new trail. The new trail that is being constructed along the Purple Line alignment has improved crossings at Connecticut Avenue and Jones Bridge Road. It would be a shame to lose the formerly safe and efficient underground crossing at heavily trafficked Wisconsin Avenue.

Secondly, time is critical – while the area is under construction, now is the time to do the work. Economies will result from the projects’ being built together as they are on other parts of the line – future construction will only be more expensive and extend the inconvenience of construction.

Please do not forfeit this opportunity to keep the promise and get the entire project completed on time.

Thank you.

Temporary Bus Stop Location Changes

In response to Purple Line and Capital Crescent Trail construction in and around the Silver Spring Transit Center, there have been some temporary changes that will impact some Ride On bus passengers. Several Ride On bus stops in the transit center have been temporarily relocated to the street to safely accommodate Purple Line work, which is expected to continue in this area through spring. Temporary bus stop locations have been placed along northbound Colesville Road (between Wayne Avenue and Georgia Avenue), on the second floor of the transit center, and on East-West Highway and Colesville Road. Click the link for the full statement and additional information


Photo Courtesy of Montgomery County

Photos from Around the Purple Line Corridor

Progress! Here are a few snaps from around the corridor of Purple Line construction.


Photo Courtesy of MTA MDOT and PLTP

Photo Courtesy of MTA MDOT and PLTP

Photo Courtesy of MTA MDOT and PLTP
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PURPLE LINE NOW NEWS AND EVENTS

We have a date for the next Purple Line NOW forum! Mark your calendar in ink for Getting Ready for the First Purple Line Ride! on April 15, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at Montgomery College. You will be able to reserve your seat soon, so stay tuned for more details on this educational and interesting evening for both Montgomery and Prince George's counties. Remember, our forums are always free and open to the public and press, but because of space limitations, we ask that you reserve your seat in advance. We'll be sending out an invitation soon, so keep your eye out for it.

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PURPLE LINE NOW ACTION

Call Your Councilmember

The decision to add the tunnel to the budget now rests with the Montgomery County Council. If you share our belief that trail users should have a quality alternative to crossing busy Wisconsin at-grade, we encourage you to connect with the Councilmember for your district, as well as all At-Large Council Members, and ask them to prioritize funding in the coming budget.

Can You Help Purple Line NOW Continue Its Work?

Purple Line NOW still needs your donations during the year and we appreciate every penny donated. If you would like to make a donation, you can do so by clicking on the black donate button below. Thank you!

We are grateful for ALL of our donors - thank you, thank you, for stepping up to help Purple Line NOW continue its work!

Get Connected!

Make sure you are signed up for timely alerts from Purple Line NOW via our Twitter and Facebook pages, and at our website Purple Line NOW.


Purple Line NOW News - January 29, 2020

In today's edition of Purple Line NOW News, here's what you'll find:

  • A Purple Line Trail Walk in the Woodside Community
  • Mark Your Calendar for the Next Purple Line Forum: April 15!
  • Purple Line NOW Matching Campaign Has Reached Its Goal!

Share This Newsletter

Please feel free to share this newsletter - no permission from us needed! You can always find a link to our newsletter on our Purple Line NOW website which makes it easy to share with your friends, neighbors, constituents, customers, and employees.

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CONSTRUCTION NEWS TO KNOW

Before we get to the Purple Line walk in the Woodside community, we wanted to share two terrific pictures of the newly installed Capital Crescent Trail Bridge, viewed from the east side of the Silver Spring metro (crossing Colesville Road.)


Photo Courtesy of Webb Smedley

Photo Courtesy of Webb Smedley

We hope these two photos help you envision a time, in just a few short years, when trains and trail are a reality!

A Purple Line Trail Walk in the Woodside Community

On Thursday, December 19, twenty residents of the Woodside community set out on a trail walk led by Purple Line Transit Constructors Sr. Manager for Public Affairs/Community Outreach, Carla Julian, and Structural Engineer, Mark Edsall.

The walk was set up because residents in this particular community wanted more information about how the Capital Crescent Trail (CCT) would fit into the edge of the community, where access points would be, and how the community would be shielded/landscaped from the trail, CSX trains and the Purple Line, since the train-bordering trees and shrubs have now been removed.

Barbara Sanders, a member of both the Woodside/Lyttonsville Community Advisory Team (CAT) and Purple Line NOW Executive Committee, set up the trail walk with the outreach coordinator for the project after the community was told the existing natural barriers were to be removed in the fall.

The walk began with a short meeting at the home of Barbara Sanders on Noyes Lane to review general information about the project and get everyone up to speed:

  • The Purple Line is expected to open from New Carrollton to College Park in late 2022, with the complete line to Bethesda opening by mid-2023.
  • The Capital Crescent Trail is being built by PLTP, but is funded by Montgomery County. It is on the same mid-2023 completion timetable. However, you may remember at Purple Line NOW’s July 2019 forum, Peter van der Waart, (CEO of the Purple Line Transit Partners) announced that they were working on a way to open the trail sooner. Mr. van der Waart emphasized that there were no promises, but, if an early opening does happen, the trail may need to close temporarily while final trial and testing is completed.
  • Details for the trail alignment in Woodside are shown below in Figure 1 (north section), Figure 2 (center section), and Figure 3 (south section). More details can be provided to interested residents.

Fig 1 (North Section)

Fig 2 (Center Section)

Fig 3 (South Section)
  • The Spring Street bridge needs to be demolished and rebuilt with more space below it on the west end near 15th Street for the two tracks of the Purple Line. This work must be completed while maintaining CSX, Metro, and MARC train operations. Tree removal and soil removal has been underway for months. The bridge closure is tentatively scheduled for March 2020 and will last about 7 months. There will be a 30-day construction advisory before closure. Detours of traffic and rerouting of buses are all scheduled to be around the Woodside neighborhood, without changes to First and Second Avenue rush hour restrictions.
  • The Capital Crescent Trail tree cutting work is underway. All trees will be removed in the path of the trail between Noyes Lane and Spring Street. Work on the new trail is expected to begin in Woodside in late spring 2020, but completion is not required by contract until 2023.
  • The trail work will start with utility work from Spring Street to South Springwood Drive and will include storm drain work, the relocation of water and sewer lines, and a possible new fire hydrant near the end of Ballard Street extended.
  • The trail will generally be asphalt and 12-feet-wide, except in some constricted areas where the width will be reduced to 10 feet. There will be a divider separating the trail from the CSX right of way with precast concrete at the bottom and open fencing at the top.
  • The trail varies in its relation to the existing grade of Third Avenue in order to meet ADA requirements. A similar treatment of concrete with fencing will be used on the Third Avenue section when necessary for safe passage of trail users. 
  • There will be access from the 16th Street bridge by stairs to the trail and to a point on 3rd Avenue between the west end of Noyes Lane and the west end of Noyes Drive. An ADA compliant ramp will also connect the sidewalk at the north end of the bridge to the trail. This will cross the stairway at a landing platform. There should be places for access when the trail is adjacent to Third Avenue, beyond the Noyes Lane connection. These connections are shown on Figure 4, below.


Fig 4

The group raised a few issues that will likely require negotiation with the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) over the Purple Line contract provisions, and coordination for assistance with the Montgomery County Executive, Council, and Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT). Some of those issues included ways to speed the completion of the trail in this area where the path is not adjacent to the light rail construction and significant screening has been removed. Another major issue was inclusion of neighborhood sidewalk and bike path connections to both the CCT and the Purple Line station.

There are more detailed plans available on the Purple Line MD website and residents are encouraged to sign up for weekly construction notices to any area of the Purple Line Right-of-Way (ROW) to be made aware of significant projects.

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PURPLE LINE NOW NEWS AND EVENTS

We have a date for the next Purple Line NOW forum! Mark your calendar in ink for Getting Ready for the First Purple Line Ride! on April 15, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at Montgomery College. You will be able to reserve your seat soon, so stay tuned for more details on this educational and interesting evening for both Montgomery and Prince George's counties. Remember, our forums are always free and open to the public and press, but because of space limitations, we ask that you reserve your seat in advance. We'll be sending out an invitation soon, so keep your eye out for it.

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PURPLE LINE NOW ACTION

Can You Help Purple Line NOW Continue Its Work?

We are thrilled to announce that we reached the $5,000 threshold for matching donations last week! We are so thankful to each and every one of you who gave for the first time, continued your long history of giving, or answered our call when a generous matching benefactor reached out to us.

Purple Line NOW still needs your donations during the year and we appreciate every penny donated. If you would like to make a donation, you can do so by clicking on the black donate button below. Thank you!

We are grateful for ALL of our donors - thank you, thank you, for stepping up to help Purple Line NOW continue its work!

FEATURED DONORS: 
The Chevy Chase Land Company, The Malloy and Sanders Family, Tina, Don, and Jessie Slater

SUPPORTING DONORS:
John Carroll, Nancy and Rob Soreng, Eric Talbot

ENGINEERS:
Anne Ambler and John Fay, ATU Local 689, Ralph Bennett, Steven Hurtt, Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, John Robinson

CONDUCTORS:
Nick Brand, Bee and Brian Ditzler, Landmark Realty, Inc., Mary Lanigan, Ben Ross, Christine Scott and JohnR Llewellyn

COMMUTERS:
Elizabeth Barbehenn, Tyler Christensen, Sean Dobson, Jonathan Elkind, Elaine Emling, Joseph Fainberg, John Fay, Andrew Fellows, Neil Greene, William Holleran, Melanie Isis, Rhonda Long, Greg Madden, Anita Morrison, Mark Posner, Gareth Rosenau, Frederick Schultz, Shirley Storms, Jerry Withers, College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn

PASSENGERS:
Charles Bell, Merrie Blocker, Steve Brigham, Kris Colby, Miti Figueredo, Nick Finio, Alexandra Knox, Daniel Marcin, Mark Mesiti-Miller, Judith Morenoff, Tom Pogue, Martin Posthumus, John Undeland, Julie Zavala

Get Connected!

Make sure you are signed up for timely alerts from Purple Line NOW via our Twitter and Facebook pages, and at our website Purple Line NOW.



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