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Purple Line: Transit Officials Gather Public Input

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Residents in the Beacon Heights section of Riverdale, Md. examine plans for the proposed Purple Line light rail transit line.
Elliott Francis
Residents in the Beacon Heights section of Riverdale, Md. examine plans for the proposed Purple Line light rail transit line.

Residents in the Beacon Heights section of Riverdale, Md. are speaking out about the proposed Purple Line light rail system. Tuesday night's gathering on the project was the first in a series of open house meetings sponsored by Montgomery County to gather input from residents about the transit line. The 16-mile double track rail will stretch east to west from Bethesda to New Carrolton. 

The great challenge of this decades old project is the fit. Much of the line will be above ground forcing planners to incorporate the line into existing neighborhoods.

Norman Livsey, president of the East Pines Citizens Association, doesn't like it at all. "I think it's a waste. All the houses along Riverdale Road in East Pines will be torn down," he said during the meeting, hosted by the county's Maryland National Capital Park & Planning Commission (MNCPPC). "Some people have done some really nice work on their homes over the years and that will all be for naught." 

Laura Hontz, who has lived in the neighborhood for 38 years, says she's all for the Purple line as long as it raises property values. "Right now I'm looking a homes going down in value, then I'm thinking ... 'the Purple Line's coming, this is great! this is wonderful,'" she says. 

Of course, there will be challenges, says Bill Washburn, the project manager for the Purple line's transit development project. 

"First off, MTA is going to have to acquire right-of-way for cars along the route that share the roadway with traffic," he says. "Then there will be long stretches where cars run on dedicated rail, like Riverdale." Construction on the line is set to begin in 2015.

Correction: The original version of this story mis-identified the sponsor of the public input meetings. Maryland National Capital Park & Planning Commission (MNCPPC), a Montgomery County agency, is hosting the meetings on the Purple line.

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