One year ago today, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley announced his support for a light-rail line over a rapid bus system that would link the Bethesda and New Carrollton Metro stations. Now, that decision could cost him votes in November.
The Purple Line’s original opponents are looking to O’Malley’s opponent to reopen their cause, according to the Washington Examiner. Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bob Ehrlich promises to kill current light rail plans in favor of the bus rapid transit system.
Ehrlich’s spokesman, Andy Barth, told The Washington Examiner that a bus route is more cost-effective and will mean fewer trees along the trail will be lost.
“I’d vote for Ehrlich in a heartbeat,” a registered Democrat in Chevy Chase told the Examiner.
“It’s a deal breaker, as far as I’m concerned,” said another Chevy Chase resident.
O’Malley did admit last year that a rapid bus line would cost a third as much as light rail and would steer clear of the popular Capital Crescent Trail between Bethesda and Silver Spring. But he also said light rail emerged as a better option because it’s more cost-effective and rider-friendly.
And O’Malley does not appear shaken or stirred by the possible loss of votes. His spokesman Mark Giangreco said in an e-mail that “O’Malley stands with business community and with the thousands of families that need this long term commitment to transit and sustainable development.”
It’s been a 20-year effort to get public transportation between Montgomery and Prince George’s counties without having to pass through the District. Right now, the Purple Line project is awaiting permission from the Federal Transit Administration to enter the next phase of the project -- preliminary engineering.
“It’s really not the time to reopen this issue,” Stewart Scharwtz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, told the Examiner. “It’s going to be hard enough to get funding for new transportation projects.”
And if the Purple Line receives federal funding, construction could begin in 2013/2014. It would likely take three to five years to complete construction.
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