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Purple Line NOW News - September 25, 2019

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

  • A Fond Farewell to Mike Madden and Welcome to Gary Witherspoon
  • A Re-Cap of the Montgomery County Council Transportation & Environment Committee Briefing on the Purple Line
  • Purple Line NOW Needs Your Financial Help - Please Consider a Donation Today
  • The Next Set of Community Advisory Team Meetings Is Set

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A Fond Farewell to Mike Madden and Welcome to Gary Witherspoon

Purple Line NOW would like to extend our deepest thanks and best wishes to Mike Madden, Purple Line Deputy Project Director for the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), who will be retiring on October 1 after 48 years of public service, 36 of which has been with MTA. Mike has been an advocate for the Purple Line well before the project became a reality and championed the cause during the darkest days to see the project break ground. We are grateful for his service, his knowledge, and his diplomatic approach to keeping this train moving when the chips were down.

Mike Madden with Barbara Sanders and PLN VP Greg Sanders

Purple Line NOW Vice President Greg Sanders praised Madden's tenacity, "He represented the project at thousands of meetings with the public, in good times and bad, bore the attacks of opponents and heard the concerns of those who would face disruption. All of that is hard work and often resists easy solutions. We are grateful for his years of labor as a public servant."

We also congratulate his successor, Gary Witherspoon, Purple Line Assistant Director of Public Outreach and Communications who has been the state transportation spokesman at MDOT MTA and a valuable part of the Community Advisory Team (CAT) meetings and our own Purple Line NOW forums.

Re-Cap of Montgomery County Council Transportation & Environment Committee Briefing on Purple Line

As we have done in the past, we wanted to give you some highlights from Montgomery County Council Transportation & Environment Committee briefing held last week on September 19, 2019. Chuck Lattuca, Executive Director for Transit Development and Delivery at MDOT MTA, and Peter van der Waart, CEO of the Purple Line Transit Partners, delivered the report in person to the comittee. You can catch the whole briefing here: T&E Committee Briefing.

Mr. Lattuca and Mr. van der Waart began their presentation by announcing that the design work for the line is 96% complete. On the construction side, work is about 17% complete. Their presentation included a nifty little video of what the actual inside of a vehicle will look like. Twenty-two out of 130 modules have already been shop-assembled and the first complete train was shop-tested back in June in Elmira, New York. These will be the longest light rail vehicles in North America and hold about 430 passengers when full. Ultimately, there will be 26 sets of vehicles (each composed of 5 modules) for the total of 130 modules.

Photo Courtesy: MDOT MTA and PLTP

Before we get to the updates for specific communities along the route in Montgomery County, we want to give you information on two very important topics that were discussed during the briefing: the replacement of trees that were removed due to construction and the news that some parts of the Purple Line will open early along the route.

Eastern Segments of the Purple Line Will Open Early

While the concessionaire and MTA could not give specifics as to which portions of the line would open early, you may have heard the good news that they are committed to having at least some segments open for public use by the end of 2022. Mr. van der Waart cautioned that the areas for early opening would likely be along the segments that will be used to test the trains prior to opening (widely thought to refer to the Glenridge Railyard near New Carrollton), but reiterated that they would know more later in the year.

Tree Replanting

Councilmember Hucker raised the issue of the loss of trees, especially along Wayne Avenue, to accommodate increased volts and to prevent arcing. Mr. van der Waart emphasized that they are not removing any trees unless “absolutely necessary,” but to maintain the same amount of lanes, they had to widen the road which meant more tree loss. However, they are operating within the guidelines of the Maryland Forest Conservation Act and will be replacing 80 acres of tree banks. They announced that 30 overstory trees (according to Merrian-Webster, this represents the layer of foliage in a forest canopy), along with 25 flowering trees, will be replanted adjacent to Wayne Avenue. Tim Cupples from Montgomery County MDOT mentioned that he has been connecting folks to Tree Montgomery which will work with residents to replace additional trees. They are also working with the county arborist for advice on where replanting will occur, as well as tree maintenance after planting.

As mentioned, the presentation highlighted specific communities along the corridor with updates on each and a forecast for work in those areas in the coming months. Again, if you would like an in-depth report of each area, you can watch the video or see the slide show here: T&E Committee Briefing.

Bethesda Station

Back in January, the elevator shaft was about 40 feet deep, and since then, the depth has nearly doubled as you can see in the slide below. They have paused digging while they prepare to pour the concrete walls, but eventually, the shaft will descent another 60 feet before being completed by the summer in 2020. The hope is to have the permanent concrete structure installed by fall 2021. Elm Street is scheduled to reopen in early 2022.

Photo Courtesy: MDOT MTA and PLTP

Rock Creek Park

Crews are getting ready to put in tracks and rebuild the Rock Creek bridge after the trestle was removed back in June.

Silver Spring Transit Center

Crews are currently building the foundations for the aerial structure that will take the light rail over the Silver Spring Transit Center. The partial demolition of the Falkland Apartments continues, with a completion date in 2019 and the Capital Crescent Trail bridge truss erection across Colesville Road is occurring, as well.

Silver Spring International Middle School

The retaining wall and parking lot reconstruction was completed before school opened this year, although crews will need to come back to finish up some work with a completion date in the fall of 2020. The height of the retaining wall has been reduced for greater visibility. There have been significant enhancements to the crosswalks, which will be “continental” crosswalks which require a higher standard. These will be cross-hatched crosswalks, rather than the previous two-parallel stripes which will provide more visibility. These continental crosswalks will be installed along the entire corridor.

Photo Courtesy: MDOT MTA and PLTP

Manchester Place Station

Although the installation of the permanent structure has been ongoing since April of this year, the site has now been fully excavated and the plan is to have the cover on by the end of this year. The  parking lot for Kenwood House residents should reopen in spring of next year and the station is anticipated to be complete in spring 2021.

Plymouth Tunnel

You may remember, late last year, crews broke through the tunnel, but now the tunnel looks like a tunnel that could eventually have a train coming through it! The team will be busy water-proofing, laying rebar, and layers of spray-able concrete for the lining, with plans for that to be completed by late this year with the installation of the tunnel structure to begin shortly following in December and completed next summer. The hope is to have Arliss Street reopened by late next year, as well.

Photo Courtesy: MDOT MTA and PLTP

Public Outreach

Mr. van der Waart and Mr. Lattuca highlighted the work that both the concessionaire and MTA are doing in the community and the dates for the next Community Advisory Teams which you can find below. With the launch of the new website and a more active role in social media, they have seen a 37% growth in followers.

The councilmembers present, Hans Riemer, Evan Glass, and Committee Chair, Tom Hucker, asked a number of questions and those, along with their answers, can be heard in the video link above.

Upcoming Community Advisory Team Meetings

  • October 1
    College Park
    6:30 – 8 p.m.
    Purple Line Project Office
    6811 Kenilworth Ave.
    (1st floor training room)
    Riverdale MD, 20737
  • October 10
    Silver Spring
    7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
    Silver Spring International Middle School
    313 Wayne Avenue (Media Center)
    Silver Spring, MD 20910
  • October 15
    University Boulevard
    6:30 – 8 p.m.
    Langley Park-McCormick Elementary School
    8201 15th Avenue
    Hyattsville, MD 20783
  • October 22
    Long Branch
    7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
    Oak View Elementary School
    400 E. Wayne Avenue
    Silver Spring, MD 20901




Can You Help Purple Line NOW Continue Its Work?

Earlier this month, we sent out a formal appeal to our entire constituency. 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.

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