Despite cuts, light rail project may expand local transportation palette
BY REBECCA BENNETT — None of the planned 21 stops on the Purple Line that will connect Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties land in the City of Hyattsville, but local leaders say that if the line is built, its impact will certainly be felt within city limits.
Proposed station locations include Riverdale Park—at Kenilworth Avenue and East West Highway—across from the new Riverdale Park Station at M Square Research Park and near the intersection of Adelphi Road and University Boulevard.
“The line comes close enough to where it will make a big difference for some west or eastbound commuting Hyattsville residents, especially those residing in University Hills near the planned Adelphi Road-West Campus Station,” said Hyattsville Community Development Corporation Executive Director Stuart Eisenberg. He cited reduced road congestion and quicker transit access to points west on the line as benefits for Hyattsville residents.
Since his election last year, media reports speculated Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan could cancel the Purple Line project altogether. On June 25, Hogan announced the light rail project could move forward but that the state would be contributing only $168 million, a fraction of the original $700 million proposal.
“I have always said this decision was never about whether public transit was worthwhile, but whether it is affordable and makes sense,” Hogan said.
“The Governor’s announcement … clearly shows that he recognizes the positive impact this project could have on the region and State of Maryland,” County Executive Rushern Baker said, citing estimates that the project will create 23,000 jobs and spur economic development.
According to the Prince George’s County Council, who said they support the project, 11 Purple Line stops are planned for Districts 2 and 3.
“I am thrilled that Governor Hogan has made the decision to move the Purple Line forward. However, his announcement that the State’s contribution is dropping from $700M to $168M is puzzling. The Purple Line project is crucial for the State of Maryland to connect our knowledge centers, increase jobs, and ensure the state’s economic competitiveness,” County Councilmember Dannielle Glaros (District 3) said.
“Building the Purple Line will better connect our communities and businesses, and expand employment opportunities for thousands of Marylanders. This effort will be just as transformative for our region in the 21st century, as Metro, the Beltway and Bay Bridge were for previous generations,” said County Councilmember Deni Taveras (District 2).
Baker said the governor put contingencies on the plan, including a requirement for increased contributions from the two counties.
“We will work in concert with Montgomery County to analyze whether this new proposal maintains the spirit of the initial plan for the Purple Line and will lead to the outcomes and benefits we have been talking about for years,” Baker said.
Hogan announced $210 million in cuts to the project on July 6, according to the Washington Post. Those cuts include reducing the project’s art allowance by 50 percent, not requiring a fully enclosed platform at the Riverdale Park station and not requiring overhead structures to take into consideration future widening of Kenilworth Avenue and East West Highway.