Route 1 Will Be Fine Without the Purple Line

Rendering of proposed public art at Riverdale Park station courtesy of Purple Line Transit Partners

The outlook for the Purple Line looks grimmer than ever.

The proposed 16 mile light-rail line running from New Carrollton to Bethesda has faced repeated setbacks, including a federal judge’s decision to strip the project of federal approval.

In an appeal, the state said it needs to make a final decision on the project around Aug. 1.

On the project’s side, it has the support of the University of Maryland, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, most of the communities it would connect and various business, labor and civic groups. On the opposing side: the Chevy Chase residents suing to stop the project, the federal judge who has sided with them and the mass transit-skeptical Trump Administration.

With $900 million in federal funding at stake, the odds seem stacked pretty heavily against the Purple Line pulling through at this point.

The University of Maryland already seems to be planning for alternatives in case the Purple Line doesn’t come through. Riverdale Park and College Park would benefit from the added transit option, but both communities are already growing.

The Purple Line would help the Route 1 area become less suburban, more surban and more walkable, allow students, workers and residents to commute more easily and bring back a touch of the area’s long-lost streetcar flair.

But those broader trends are already underway on Route 1. If the Purple Line fails, it will be a missed opportunity, but it won’t be the end of the Route 1 renaissance. From Studio 3807 in Brentwood to the new Pizzeria Paradiso in Hyattsville to Riverdale Park Station and the Hotel at the University of Maryland, there’s already a lot of momentum.

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