Costs for Purple Line Increase; Project Threatened


By David E. Hawkins and Laura Lucas Palekar

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has recently reported increased projected costs for the Purple Line light-rail project being planned by the Maryland Transit Administration to travel 16.2 miles from Bethesda to New Carrollton. Meanwhile, several recent lawsuits threaten further impacts to the project.

Approximately 388 private property owners will be directly impacted by the Purple Line, including approximately 67 landowners whose property will be totally taken by the project. The project may also damage other properties with noise and vibration impacts. The Purple Line is currently scheduled to begin service in 2020. FTA Announces $56-Million Cost Increase Earlier this month, the FTA reported a $56-million cost increase for the Purple Line project. This increase, which brings the total projected budget to $2.43 billion, is the second price increase in the last seven months. In January, the FTA raised the budget by another $220 million, citing rising expected costs of acquiring property from private landowners. For more information, see:

  • http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/purple-line-cost-estimate-rises-by-56-million-to-a-total-243-billion/2014/09/11/ae8667ba-39cf-11e4-bdfb-de4104544a37_story.html

  • http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/morning_call/2014/09/purple-line-will-cost-56-million-more.html

Suit Seeks to Block Construction Due to Alleged Environmental Violations A conservation group and two Chevy Chase residents filed suit alleging that the government violated the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act by failing to scrutinize the Purple Line's impact on two endangered species. The suit, brought by lead plaintiff Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail, seeks to block construction of the Purple Line. For more information, see:

  • http://www.eenews.net/greenwire/stories/1060005254/search?keyword=amphipod

  • http://inthecapital.streetwise.co/2014/08/27/purple-line-lawsuit-amphipods/

Suit Seeks to Declare that Portions of the Proposed Right-of-Way Have been Adversely Possessed by Landowners, Threatens to Increase Price of Purple Line Project

A second suit involves a Chevy Chase resident who built a 14-foot tall fence beyond his property line on land to be used for Purple Line right-of-way. Ajay Bhatt, the president of the Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail, apparently built the fence one year ago and received a $500 civil citation from Montgomery County and an order to remove the fence. The District Court upheld the citation and fine, and Bhatt appealed the case to the Circuit Court, where it remains pending. Several other property owners have fences and sheds beyond their property lines along the Capital Crescent Trail, and the County has largely ignored these encroachments until recently. Bhatt claims that previous owners of his home had adversely possessed the land along the trail's shoulders because a fence had existed in the same spot since 1963.

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