My Thoughts on the Purple Line

Although I believe that the positives of the Purple Line will outweigh the negatives, the transit line comes at a high cost. And many residents, including myself, are frustrated.

As I have been knocking on doors in Bethesda and Chevy Chase over the past several weeks, residents have been sharing their thoughts with me about the Purple Line project.

Many people are opposed to the purple line and even the proponents here have serious concerns. They are concerned that the project will destroy what is now a magnificent green space along the Crescent Trail. A green space that runs through the heart of this community and offers a respite from the increasingly urbanized concrete landscape that is springing up all around us. During the week, you find a stream of commuters on bicycles, runners and hikers on the trail. And on weekends you can hardly navigate the crowds enjoying a stroll under the trees.

The residents don’t want to lose this precious space. They don’t want to endure 5 years of major construction in their backyard. Bethesda residents have, at least, five major construction projects to contend with over the next few years: The Purple Line, Apex building, Marriott headquarters and hotel, the new high-rise at 7900 Wisconsin, and the upcoming project at the old police station.

Development has been non-stop in Bethesda for more than a decade. The mismanaged growth has resulted in some of the worst traffic in the county with increasingly overcrowded schools. And then there’s the recent Downtown Development Plan which ignored pleas from residents to build more parks and make sure that infrastructure keeps pace with development. It’s a lot to endure and many of the residents here have had enough.

Indeed, the term NIMBY–or Not In My Backyard–is thrown around pretty often.  But these residents have valid grievances and the response from many proponents and elected officials outside this community have often been dismissive and insulting. The residents here are frustrated and tired of being pushed around. They are tired of their leaders, like Councilmember George Leventhal calling them a “…suburb filled with affluent, litigious people.”  They are trying to make their voices heard. And so, they are taking part in civic action – which, whether you agree with them or not, should be applauded – not ridiculed.

So, while the Purple Line may end up being good for the county as a whole, The residents here aren’t celebrating. This project is yet another example, in a long line of examples, that their voices are not being heard in local government. From the discontent I see from the neighbors around me, I expect we’ll have increased calls for incorporating Bethesda so it can govern itself. And when I am elected to the County Council next year, I will be more than happy to support that fight.

Over the upcoming holiday weekend, I encourage you to take a stroll on the Crescent Trail and take stock in what we are losing..before it’s gone.

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