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Purple Line NOW News - November 13, 2019

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

  • An Important Message from Purple Line NOW
  • A Recap of the Bethesda/Chevy Chase and Long Branch Community Advisory Team Meetings

Dear Friends...

Purple Line NOW is approaching a turning point in the services we will be able to offer as we go forward in 2020. With visible construction all around our communities, it is easy for the community to believe our work is done, and by and large, it is thrilling to see our advocacy efforts (and yours!) over the years come into focus in such an exciting way.

For us, though, a nearly all-volunteer organization, with one quarter-time employee, fundraising has been difficult and dwindling over the past year, despite enthusiastic attendance at our very popular forums, a widely read bi-weekly newsletter, and increasing calls and emails from the community for problem-solving help due to construction woes. We simply cannot continue our work without the funding necessary to provide these services.

As we head into the holidays, we ask you to consider a donation to Purple Line NOW. We are working on a winter forum right now, and as you can see in the newsletter below, we continue to push out as much information as we can. Please click the black "DONATE" button below to help us continue our work and forward to any friends or colleagues who will benefit from the Purple Line once opened. As always, we proudly list all of our donors on our website and in all event literature. Thank you.

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This week, we continue the recap of some of the area Community Advisory Team (CAT) meetings occurring this fall. We hope these short summaries, attended by Purple Line NOW Board members, provide information and context for those not able to attend. Today, our focus is on the Long Branch and Bethesda/Chevy Chase communities.

As always, you can see the complete presentations at the MTA/MDOT website: Community Advisory Teams.

Long Branch

This CAT meeting, which happened on October 22, was presented by Gary Witherspoon (MDOT MTA Public Outreach & Communications, Deputy Project Director), Carla Julian (PLTC Senior Manager Public Affairs/Community Outreach), and Jean-Marc Wehrli (PLTC Area 2 Construction Manager). The stations in this segment of the corridor include Manchester Place, Long Branch, and Piney Branch Road. 

This past spring, the 1,000 foot Plymouth Tunnel excavation was completed and since then, waterproofing and pouring the final concrete for the tunnel lining has been ongoing. CAT members had some questions about a recent report of work to replace initial faulty construction. That work was focused on the Bethesda elevator shaft and there have not been any comparable problems for the Plymouth Tunnel. Maryland and Concessionaire officials described the system of inspections by both the concessionaire and the state, and it was that system that caught the concrete problems which are now being addressed at concessionaire expense. These inspections are regularly conducted during the construction process to avoid the problem of late discoveries that have plagued other area construction projects.

Looking ahead to the next six months for Long Branch:

Along Wayne Avenue, storm drain installation continues, as does the installation and relocation of overhead and underground utilities. Crews will also begin installing retaining walls along Wayne Avenue (in front of the Wayne Manchester Towers Apartments).

Photo Courtesy of MDOT MTA & PLTP

In the western Portal/Manchester Place Station (on East Wayne Avenue), concrete work for Phase 1 of the Manchester Place station will be completed. As for Kenwood House, Phase 1 work will be required to be completed before the parking lot can be relocated. There will be a temporary parking lot created during Phase 2 of Kenwood House, with the planned reinstatement of the parking lot to happen sometime next summer.

Photo Courtesy of MDOT MTA & PLTP

At the Plymouth Tunnel (East Wayne Avenue to Arliss Street), waterproofing and the final lining of the tunnel is expected to be completed in preparation for the maintenance walkway. Further out, the Eastern is being built using a cut and cover technique, which means that first the tunnel was excavated and open to air, and then once the concrete box surrounding the entrance is complete, that portion of Arliss Road road will be rebuilt on top. When that work is complete, the upper portion of Arliss Road from Flower Avenue to the Silver Spring Library will be restored and work will begin on the lower portion from the Library to Piney Branch. This swap is expected to take place in 2020.

On Piney Branch Road, overhead and underground utility relocations will continue between University Boulevard and Arliss Street. The largest area of citizen concern was ensuring pedestrian safety when construction zones impede sidewalks. University Boulevard was a focus for Vision Zero activists due to already scarce crosswalks and a recent fatality, outside of the construction area but on University Boulevard, where Takoma Park resident Julio Vargas Valerio was struck and killed. The Purple Line Transit Partners consistently emphasize the importance of safety around construction zones and have taken steps to better coordinate sidewalk closures. This is an area where you can help! If you ever see any unsafe conditions around a Purple Line site, follow the instructions at the end of this update to call it in.

You may also find this schedule for construction work hours helpful:

Plymouth Tunnel

• Day Shift: 6 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
• Swing Shift: 2:30 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
• Typical day shift: 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.
• Typical night shift: 7 p.m. – 4:30 a.m.
• Make-up / maintenance day will be Saturdays, as required

The public will be notified through notifications on for:
• Utility shutdowns
• Road/driveway closures
• Pile driving
• Night work
• Weekend work
• Major lane closures

Bethesda/Chevy Chase

On October 29, about 50 residents and CAT members gathered at North Chevy Chase Elementary School to hear updates and share concerns about the segment of the Purple Line that passes through their neighborhoods. The presentation began with an introduction of the speakers, an overview of the progress of the entire 16.2 mile corridor, and more detail about the status of the project between Bethesda and Rock Creek Park. Please check out the presentation because it shows that the project is really moving along and will also give you a better idea of where construction is currently happening along this portion of the route.

Gary Witherspoon, who has stepped in for Mike Madden following his retirement, said he will miss Madden's historical knowledge given that Madden has worked on the Purple Line since 2002. 

Of particular interest to the attendees was the prediction that by early spring, probably March, the steel girders for the Purple Line and Capital Crescent Trail overpasses should be in place. Following that, both bridges over Connecticut will be constructed. The PLTP representatives made note of the request to keep residents informed of the strategy for building these bridges including road closures and detours. 

There were questions and concern about the impact of dust and noise to a child care center located adjacent to the current CC trail. The owner of the facility and a parent whose children are cared for there said they appreciate the attention that they have gotten to date, but the issues are on-going. There was also concern about some night time construction that took place without notification of residents. PLTP was pretty sure that this was activity by WSSC, but they will look into it. 

Some highlights:

• The Bethesda Shaft (which will connect the Purple Line to WMATA’s Red Line) has been excavated to a depth of 100 feet and the concrete lining for the shaft that began in June will be completed next spring.
• Progress near East-West Highway includes the installation of retaining walls on the GT Branch Trail.
• At the Columbia Country Club, the east golf cart underpass has been completed and re-opened.
• Over on Connecticut Avenue, the piles for future LRV and CCT bridges have been installed.

On Jones Mill Road, a new temporary traffic pattern has been established for the CCT underpass construction, so please be on the watch for that if Jones Mill Road or Jones Bridge Road are on your daily commute.

Photo Courtesy of MDOT MTA & PLTP

Carla Julian encouraged everyone with concerns to call the Purple Line Hot-line at 240-424-5325. They will get an answering machine instead of a real person because they want a record of concerns. A text of the message left by the caller will be forwarded to the outreach team and they will respond as soon as they can.



  • Next Purple Line NOW Forum: Stay tuned for an announcement of the next Purple Line NOW forum happening late winter 2020!


Can You Help Purple Line NOW Continue Its Work?

If you haven't already given this year, would you consider a donation to Purple Line NOW? We have reprinted the appeal here as it contains all the bits you might want to know about what we do with your donations - those dollars work hard!

As we reported earlier this year, we here at Purple Line NOW have shifted our energy from our prior focus of advocating for funding and approval of the project to the daunting task of keeping communities along the Purple Line corridor up-to-speed regarding breaking news, construction woes, and exciting new developments being built around the new line.

Purple Line NOW operates on a very small budget and, as you know, we don’t hold special event fundraisers. Instead, we rely on an email outreach to our most dedicated supporters to help us meet our bottom line each year during our fall appeal campaign.

To that end, we ask for your financial support so that we may continue our work. Donating is easy via our secure link or by sending a check through the mail – all the information to do so can be found on our website.

Below, you will read what it is we do each year with your generous donations. As always, we are happy to answer any additional questions you may have. Just shoot us an email or give us a ring.

A reminder: Purple Line NOW does not receive underwriting grants from any source, government (local or otherwise), nor are we a membership organization (we do not ask for annual dues). We operate solely on donations from individuals and businesses like you who care about the Purple Line and whose generosity allow us to continue our work each year.

How Will Purple Line NOW Use My Donation?

As we said, Purple Line NOW exists on a very slender budget. Our work is done by a dedicated and hardworking group of volunteers, as well as one quarter-time employee. We pay for our website maintenance and for the resources needed to reach the community through email blasts, literature, and supplies. We also cover any expenses associated with hosting our popular educational forums – as you know, these events are always free and open to the public (we don’t charge you to attend!)

Purple Line NOW News

With your support, Purple Line NOW has published a bi-weekly, information-packed newsletter with the latest in construction news, photos, and insider information to keep you on top of what is going on in the field. We have a large following and we are often surprised that readers come from all over the country, from Baltimore to California! Thanks to the many volunteer contributors who help us write and release the newsletter every other week. It’s a big undertaking and we appreciate your support in making it happen! Did you know you can view all of our previous newsletters on our website?!

Envisioning the Purple Line Series

We continue the very popular Envisioning the Purple Line series of forums hosted in a variety of communities along the corridor in both Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. Just last month, we held an update in Chevy Chase, focused on Completing the Capital Crescent Trail where we brought in the CEO of the Purple Line Transit Partners (the builders), Montgomery County councilmembers, bicycle and trail advocates, and others to offer lots of information to the 70+ folks who attended. We try to do at least two events each year around the Purple Line Corridor. Previous events have been held in Silver Spring, Bethesda, Riverdale Park, University of Maryland, College Park, and more. We are currently working hard on organizing the next forum, so stay tuned!

Connecting People

Behind the scenes, Purple Line NOW serves as an unofficial clearing house of sorts for calls from residents and businesses who are looking for answers to issues they are experiencing while the project is under construction. We don’t always have all the answers, but we do try to connect folks with the proper resources.

Sharing Information

Purple Line NOW board members have a long tradition of attending hearings, testifying on behalf of the project, being a part of Purple Line-oriented neighborhood groups, and connecting to elected officials on behalf of the Line. Our volunteer board leadership continues to meet every single month in person, as they have done for over a decade, to share information gathered and exchange ideas to keep the project on track. We attend meetings, provide updates, and take notes! Many of our members stay on top of transit news through their membership and support of other local and regional transit organizations and many are also very active on the neighborhood Community Advisory Teams.

Maintaining a Presence

Finally, Purple Line NOW maintains a strong social media presence, staying connected to thousands via Facebook and Twitter and through our website, Purple Line NOW. If you haven’t signed up for those, do so today. You’ll get the latest news and be able to participate in discussions happening on those platforms.

Remember, with your donation, your name (or your business name) will be listed on our website, as well as in event literature and signage for a year following your donation.

We are grateful for your consideration of our request and for your support, financial and otherwise. We wish you a happy and healthy fall season.

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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