In today's edition of Purple Line NOW News, here's what you'll find:
- Third and Final Lawsuit Against Purple Line Dismissed
- New Crash Wall to Raise Costs and Increase Timeline?
- Overview of Bethesda/Chevy Chase Community Advisory Team Meeting
All of us here at Purple Line NOW hope that you remain healthy during this difficult time. Stay safe!
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CONSTRUCTION NEWS TO KNOW
Third and Final Lawsuit Against Purple Line Dismissed
The final lawsuit, filed by opponents of the Purple Line, which argued that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had “improperly allowed construction crews to discharge dredge and fill into streams” was rejected by a federal judge in Maryland. You can read more about the lawsuit and the dismissal in an article by Katherine Shaver in the Washington Post.
Purple Line NOW’s Vice President Greg Sanders says, "We are gratified that the courts have dealt yet another defeat to scorched earth attempts by opponents to turn regulations meant to protect the environment against a project estimated to take 17,000 cars off the road a day. Judge Bredar's summary judgment incisively notes that project opponents 'have not provided any coherent justification for their position that bus-rapid transit should have been built instead.' The concessionaire has reported that an earlier lawsuit by some of these plaintiffs delayed the project 266 days and cost the state about $200 million. We are relieved that this latest suit was unsuccessful in its attempt to do further harm."
New Crash Wall to Raise Costs and Increase Timeline?
You may have seen the headline in the news lately that the Purple Line contractor is requesting additional time and money to build a crash wall – a wall that is built alongside the tracks to absorb the force of a train derailment and protect nearby buildings, pillars, etc. The crash wall was in the original contract; however, the type of crash wall now being requested by CSX Transportation is different than what was previously stipulated, and the cost and time overrun comes as a result of this new request. As you may know, the Purple Line tracks will run next to the CSX tracks at certain points along the route.
You can read more about the details of how the concessionaire has been trying to work with CSX in the Washington Post, which reports that proposed solutions in line with the original cost have been rejected. MTA says it has been "actively engaged in discussions" to minimize costs and delay. We are hopeful that efforts to mediate the problem will be successful and that, as they have done in the past, crews will be able to accelerate other areas of construction to accommodate such delays. However, a lot is still unknown, including whether any work delays because of COVID-19 pandemic-related safety measures will affect the project’s timeline.
Bethesda/Chevy Chase Community Advisory Team
As we reported in our previous newsletter, to be in compliance with Governor Larry Hogan’s COVID-19 guidelines to limit public gatherings to less than 10 people, MDOT MTA and the PLTP informed the community that CAT (Community Advisory Team) meetings "will not be held in our typical in-person meeting format but prerecorded and posted to purplelinemd.com.”
First up was Bethesda/Chevy Chase and the presentation was posted on April 14. You may view the entire presentation at purplelinemd.com, but here is a brief overview of the information that was shared.
Gary Witherspoon, MDOT MTA Public Outreach & Communications Deputy Project Director, Carla Julian, PLTC Sr. Manager Public Affairs/Community Outreach, and Mark Edsall, PLTC Area 1 Project Engineer provided the information that included an overview of the project status and construction progress.
The project construction is nearly 30% complete and MDOT MTA says the plan is to open in two phases:
- Phase 1 by December 2022 with 6 operational stations from New Carrollton Metro to College Park Metro
- Phase 2 by mid-2023 when the remaining 15 stations will open
Regarding ongoing work on the Purple Line during the COVID-19 crisis, officials at MDOT MTA responded that, “The State considers commercial and residential construction companies as essential to still operate during Maryland’s State of Emergency. As the Purple Line falls into this category, work will continue to move forward with additional safety measures in place to keep our staff and the public safe.”
Last year, we reported that the first LRV (Light Rail Vehicle) had just begun testing, but we are happy to learn that it is now “60% through testing in Elmira, New York and will head to the Glenridge Operations and Maintenance Facility in Prince George’s County for local testing in late 2020.”
Here’s an exciting visual from the presentation – a rendering of how the Bethesda Station might look when it opens. Although the Art-in-Transit selection is not yet featured and this only a rendering, it does give us a glimpse of things to come!
Image Courtesy of MDOT MTA and PLTP
Purple Line riders can walk into the station directly from Woodmont Avenue or take an elevator or escalator from Wisconsin Avenue down to the Purple Line platform. Riders who are continuing onto the Metro will be able to go down to the future mezzanine to access the Bethesda Station. The presentation noted that "during construction of the future mezzanine, riders can access the metro by walking along Wisconsin or Woodmont Avenues.”
Another rendering, below, of the Connecticut Avenue Station shows that this station has what is called a “side loaded platform” with crosswalks to access both “inbound and outbound tracks.” Very exciting to see these renderings -- we are looking forward to more of them as the Community Advisory Team meetings cycle through the different stations over the next few weeks!
Image Courtesy of MDOT MTA and PLTP
The presentation highlighted much of the work that has been done over the past six months – much of it visible when we were out and about. Some of that work included continued construction of utility relocations, storm drainage installations, construction of retaining walls, and foundations for noise walls.
To see an expanded list of construction that has been done along this part of the corridor over the past half year, do not forget to view the full presentation.
In terms of what is coming in the next six months, blasting for the Bethesda Shaft is scheduled to resume in May or June and will facilitate the excavation of the cavern that will connect the Purple Line to the Red Line. (Notice will be provided in advance of blasting activities.)
Along Pearl Street, the pedestrian bridge construction will begin. Retaining walls, storm drainage installation, and utility work will continue. Bridge girders for Chevy Chase Lake Drive Bridge will be set sometime in the next few months. On Jones Mill Road, Phase 1 construction will be completed and traffic patterns will change as they begin Phase 2 construction mid to late summer.
Again, more details and specific area information can be found on the purplelinemd.com website.
Next issue, we will be bringing you a recap of the College Park presentation. In the meantime, while you're out on your daily walks, snap a few pics of Purple Line progress and send them our way (with photo credit information) and we'll print as many as we can in upcoming issues!
PURPLE LINE NOW NEWS AND EVENTS
The Next Purple Line NOW Forum: Getting Ready for the First Purple Line Ride
As you know, our April 15 forum was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but rest assured we are working on bringing all the good information to you in the form of an online webinar or presentation. We are working on the details, so please stay tuned for further details and a date!
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