MTA addresses Purple Line construction concerns
BY DARANEE BALACHANDAR
Members of the Riverdale Park Business Association (RPBA) raised concerns about Purple Line construction during a meeting at The Station at Riverdale Park on Oct. 11.
The association’s president, Michael Herman, chaired the meeting. He said construction was causing heavy traffic at the intersection of the East-West Highway and Kenilworth Avenue.
Carla Julian, a public relations specialist working with the Maryland Transportation Authority (MTA), said at the meeting that as of October 2023, the light-rail project was 58% done. The project is scheduled for completion in 2027.
Dr. Sundar Natarajan, a veterinarian at the Riverdale Park Animal Hospital, said at the meeting that he thinks construction might have affected the foundation of his hospital.
“[Natarajan] is now getting floodwaters that he didn’t get previously before the footings were installed for the Purple Line bridge at the intersection of 410 and Kenilworth Avenue,” Jeffrey Yorke, secretary of the RPBA told the College Park Here & Now in a follow-up interview.
Yorke said that the animal hospital is at the bottom of a hill. Since vegetation has been removed from the hill as part of the construction process, water flows into the hospital rather than seeping into the ground.
“It’s all concrete now with asphalt,” Yorke said.
Kathryn Lamb, communications director for the MTA Purple Line project, spoke to business-owner concerns in a follow-up interview with the College Park Here & Now. “Some of the very issues that [were] brought up have been addressed, either by communicating updates to the business owners of the association or actual changes,” she said, adding, “of course disruption is going to take place if you are taking up utilities that have existed there for many, many years. Of course there’s going to be disruption. But once those utilities are put back in place, the new ones are going to function much better.” she said.
Utility replacement related to the Purple Line project is causing much of the current traffic congestion in College Park, according to the updates on the MTA’s Purple Line website.
The MTA held a virtual meeting on Oct. 12 with community members and businesses in College Park to talk about Purple Line construction. Participants largely focused on access to facilities for physically disadvantaged individuals. The MTA has to comply with regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Attendees at the meeting did not raise issues about construction impacts on businesses in the city.
In an interview with the College Park Here & Now, Lamb said, “The fact that we didn’t get hardly any questions from community members on that … means that our team is doing its job and communicating back out to homeowners and schools and businesses about the schedule.”
Yorke noted that the impacts of the Purple Line construction may be different in College Park than in other communities, including nearby Riverdale Park.
He said few businesses are along the Purple Line route through College Park.
“Probably not a lot of mom and pop businesses affected,” he said.
Maps of the Purple Line route through College Park show the track following Campus Drive through the University of Maryland, continuing north of The Hotel on Baltimore Avenue and down Campus Drive to the College Park Metro.