Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Al Carr's Testimony on the Purple Line

Delegate Al Carr (D-18) was appointed to the House of Delegates in 2007 and is a former member of the Town of Kensington Council.

Good evening.
My name is Al Carr. I live in Kensington and I represent the citzens of District 18 in the Maryland House of Delegates.

I have been following this debate for nearly twenty years.

I support the Purple Line.

But I do not agree with those who say that we should limit our options to light rail as the only mode and to the Capital Crescent Trail as the only route.

To achieve the best result, we need to make sure that we can think outside the purple box.

In planning for the Purple Line we need to:

Keep our options open
Preserve and expand the Trail
Address growth at the Bethesda Naval Hospital due to BRAC
Address local traffic problems that the ICC will bring, and
Be prepared for all financial scenarios

A true Bus Rapid Transit solution along Jones Bridge Road needs to be added to the alternatives being considered.

The newest transit line in North America opened a few weeks ago in Cleveland Ohio where I was born. My son and I plan to ride it next week when we visit grandma for Thanksgiving.

Cleveland is no stranger to light rail. Unlike the Washington area, they never dismantled their light rail network. They considered light rail during the planning for their new line. But they ultimately chose bus rapid transit.

They found BRT to be an efficient, environmentally friendly way to move people, and to support economic development while being twice as cost effective as light rail.

In these times of extreme financial challenge, we need to be prepared for a range of options with a range of price tags.

Bus Rapid Transit on Jones Bridge Road is an option that will preserve the Capital Crescent Trail. This is a heavily used, wonderful urban park that brings people together.

I don't know how many of the people in this room have actually lived next to a light rail line. Well I have. And I can tell you that there is no better way to forever divide a neighborhood and keep people separated. And that is what will happen if we put light rail on the Capital Crescent Trail.

The entire Connecticut Avenue corridor including Kensington has traffic problems that are about to get worse. This corridor suffers from pedestrian fatalities, extreme congestion and dangerous cut through traffic. All of these problems will be made worse by growth at the Naval Hospital due to BRAC and by the added traffic caused by the Intercounty Connector.

If we fail to consider Bus Rapid Transit on Jones Bridge Road, we will miss an opportunity to address these problems. And we will continue a pattern of piecemeal transportation planning rather than coordination.

Let's not paint ourselves into a purple corner. Let's keep our options open, so that the end result will be a smarter Purple Line.