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Last week, the news broke that many more properties than anticipated would have to be taken to make way for the Maryland Transit Administration’s* Purple Line from New Carrollton to Bethesda—-330, to be exact. It’s no wonder: Looking closely at segments of the line, while in most places the route goes along the main roads—-impacting few properties in Bethesda and Chevy Chase—-it appears to go directly through peoples’ houses by the side of Riverdale Road and Kenilworth Avenue east of College Park.
Considering the headache of condemning land and moving people elsewhere, I thought this was an odd choice, and was surprised to not have heard much uproar from that area. Well, according to the Maryland Transit Administration, the original plan had been to put dedicated lanes down the center of the road. But 21 homes in the path of the Purple Line through Riverdale actually wanted to be relocated rather than have a widened road encroach on their front yards.
“We did do outreach to the people who lived in those homes, and everyone we spoke to said, they’ve widened this road over the years, if we park in the street, people smash into it,” says project manager Mike Madden, noting that he hadn’t been contacted by any attorneys representing the Riverdalians. “Instead of taking more of our front yard, we’d rather you take our whole house.”
So I guess those are 21 people who won’t be suing to stay in their homes (or at least aren’t planning to at this point—-construction is still years away).
Of course, it doesn’t mean everybody’s happy about the Purple Line. Norman Livsey is president of the East Pines Citizens Association, which covers the area most directly impacted by the takings. Although his own home isn’t on the condemnation list, he just thinks the plan won’t bring all the benefits the county says it will. “This whole business of having a purple line is just nonsense to me,” he says. “East Pines is getting it in the shorts, and we’re not real happy about it.”
At the same time, Livsey says, even though there’s been some dissatisfaction with MTA’s plan, people are too apathetic to do much about it. “I think a lot of people have a bunker mentality,” he says. “They want to stay in their bunker and not be bothered.”
* CORRECTION, Saturday, 3:54 p.m. – Not Metrorail.