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Purple Line could be Baltimore asset

For Baltimore readers, Gov. Martin O'Malley's announcement of a choice of plans to build the Red Line far overshadowed his support for light rail on the Purple Line from New Carrollton to Bethesda. But for some Baltimore residents, the Purple Line could be an important part of their commuting future.

If it comes to fruition, the Purple Line will connect with the MARC Penn Line at New Carrollton and the MARC Camden Line  at Colllege Park. From those points, riders  will be able to travel to various employment centers along the east-west line without having to go into downtown Washington.

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It might not be a vast number of Baltimore-area residents  who benefit. The Maryland Transit Administration did not  have an estimate on how  many might make the transfer from MARC to the Purple Line. But certainly there will be hundreds, if not thousands, who end up  making that connection after it opens (2016 at the earliest).

The estimated one-way travel time of 56 minutes from New Carrollton to Bethesda makes it unlikely that many Baltimore-area riders would travel the  full length of the line. But the Purple Line will certainly improve access to the University of Maryland College park campus, as  well as Takoma Park and Silver Spring.

So unlike that goofy proposal to wiiden Interstate 270  at the cost of $4.6 billion, this is a true One Maryland project that will bring the state together and open up job opportunities that otherwise might be out of reach. The $1.5 billion project also balances out politically with Baltimore's $1.6 billion Red Line aspirations. The only way I can figure to balance that I-270 boondoggle with a Baltimore project would be to gold-plate the Key  Bridge.

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