On Wednesday morning, Maryland’s Board of Public Works approved a contract for a team of companies to build, operate and maintain the Purple Line, a 16-mile transit line that will link the Red, Green, and Orange lines in the Maryland suburbs.
So why does something as administrative as contract approval have us smiling? The Purple Line project includes substantial improvements to the region’s trail network.
Here’s what the Purple Line means for the trail system:
- Paved and extended: The trail segment known as the Georgetown Branch Trail will be widened, paved, and extended into downtown Silver Spring. Currently, the off-road section of this corridor is unpaved and underused, and the on-road section is unprotected and difficult to navigate. The continuous trail from Bethesda to Silver Spring will be rebranded as part of the Capital Crescent Trail.
- Grade-separated from motor vehicles: This means that at street crossings at roads like Connecticut Ave and Jones Mill Road, long waits, blind corners, and narrow sidewalks will be replaced by bridges.
- Connections: When completed, Silver Spring will be an important trail crossroads with direct links to Georgetown (via the Capital Crescent Trail), the National Mall (via the Metropolitan Branch Trail), and the Sligo Creek Trail (via the Silver Spring Green Trail).
- Transit Access: Trail users will benefit from improved trail access around transit stations, which is good news for multi-modal travelers in both Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties.
- Momentum: Purple Line service cannot start until the trail is complete, which keeps the pressure on to get the trail built.
WABA has been working for more than two decades on making the vision of a seamless trail from Georgetown to Silver Spring a reality. The Purple Line will make substantial improvements to a portion of that route, transforming the Georgetown Branch Trail segment into a safe, viable transportation and recreation connection between two of the county’s hubs of activity (Bethesda and Silver Spring).
A paved trail between Bethesda and Silver Spring could not happen without completion of the Purple line. This project will contribute significantly to the regional trail network in Montgomery County, and is one of the many ways the region’s trail network is growing. We applaud Governor Hogan for moving the Purple Line project forward and the Montgomery County Council for their long support for the trail and commitment to funding for it.
WABA will continue to track progress on the development of the trail, and will keep you informed along the way.
—For a deep dive into the details of the trail changes and improvements, see here.