On Friday, the state transit administration dropped early details on how the Purple Line would impact people, cars and nature. The full scoop — all 37 MB of it — is on the mass-transit project’s website, and on file at the Silver Spring public library.
But what many want to know is: How far away is the project from rolling, if it rolls at all?
“If all the funding is available, we can start construction in 2012,” project manager Mike Madden told Silver Spring’s urban-district advisory committee Thursday.
So far, a $25 million slice out of the Purple Line’s design budget won’t do too much damage, because the project isn’t in the design phase yet, Madden added. It’s gotta jump through a few more hoops before it gets to that point, according to a 32-page executive summary of the project’s draft environmental-impact study.
First, the transit administration will hold public hearings to feel out the public’s reaction to the study data. Silver Spring is on the tail end of those meetings, with the very last gig dropping on Nov 22 at Montgomery College. Can’t make it to the meeting? You have until mid January 2009 to drop the transit administration a line.
Once the data and public comments are digested, the state transportation department will declare the type of ride — bus rapid transit, light rail or nothing — and the route. (People in MoCo and PG counties are leaning towards light rail from Bethesda to New Carrollton, Madden said.) The state also could weigh the Purple Line’s schedule with those of two other mass-transit projects — the Corridor Cities Transitway, and Baltimore’s Red Line — to determine which gets worked on first.
Sometime next spring, the state will holler at the Federal Transit Administration, which will decide whether the Purple Line is worthy of an engineering study. If it is, expect people in hard hats on the streets of Silver Spring with their TomToms and survey gear.
Their data should point the Purple Line route in the right direction, whether that’s down Wayne Avenue, deep beneath Thayer and Silver Spring Avenues, or nowhere at all. The public will get its shot at picking apart engineering results before the feds approve or reject its slice of the project’s tab.
“All of our options meet the [fed's] cost-effectiveness index,” Madden said. “We’re staying on schedule.”