July 15, 2010

Council to discuss Purple Line

ROCKVILLE, Md., July 14, 2010—The Montgomery County Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment (T and E) Committee on Thursday, July 15, will discuss possible alignment and station locations for the proposed Purple Line that would be an east-west connection of the Bethesda and New Carrollton Metrorail stations. The committee also is scheduled to discuss the possibility of having a single track to the line in certain segments as a means of retaining more of the tree cover in the right-of-way.

The T and E Committee, which is chaired by Council President Nancy Floreen and includes Councilmembers Roger Berliner and George Leventhal, will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The session will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). It also will be available via streaming through the County Web site at www.montgomerycountymd.gov.

In February 2009, the Council and County Executive Isiah Leggett sent a joint letter to the Secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation with their detailed recommendations for the Purple Line’s locally preferred alternative. Much of the testimony at a recent public hearing was from residents living near the right-of-way in Bethesda and Chevy Chase and from current users of the Georgetown Branch Interim Trail (who oppose sharing the right-of-way with the light rail line) and do not like the potential loss of the tree canopy in the area.

During its review of the Purple Line 18 months ago, the Council requested that the Maryland Transportation Authority (MTA) evaluate prospects of single-tracking the light rail line between Bethesda and Connecticut Avenue. A narrower single track would save trees along the planned route. MTA staff responded that a single track section would not allow the Purple Line to achieve its goal of six-minute peak-period headway.

Councilmember Roger Berliner, who represents the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area, has asked for another evaluation as to whether single tracking is viable. Another issue the T and E Committee will address is proposed Bill 6-10 that would set different noise level standards for certain seasonal arts and entertainment activities. The bill, whose chief sponsors are Council President Floreen and Councilmember Marc Elrich, would exempt noise levels created by those activities, up to a certain level, from being treated as a noise disturbance.

The bill would allow a performing arts facility (such as, but not limited to, Strathmore Hall in North Bethesda) that conducts at least five outdoor arts and entertainment activities (such as outdoor concerts or showing of movies) each year to, at its option, annually file a noise mitigation plan with the Department of Environmental Protection. The facility could then be subject to high maximum noise levels from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. from April through October.

No comments: