The Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail, local political and environmental leaders, and more than 400 runners and supporters will rally in downtown Bethesda’s Elm Street Park on Saturday, May 24, for the Fifth Annual Save the Trail 5K Race and Family Fun Day.
The race and walk will take place on the threatened section of the trail that would be displaced by the proposed Purple Line light rail train, organizers said in a news release. The event will feature music, face-painting, sign-making, prizes and remarks and an awards ceremony.
FCCT President Ajay Bhatt denounced sacrificing the trail. “The Purple Line would devastate one of the most popular public green spaces we have in our region. We need to stand up and tell the politicians and the developers that they cannot disregard the environmental harm and ram this project through.”
Federal officials have approved an environmental study for the project that would run between Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, a milestone that allows the state to begin condemning private property for construction, The Washington Post reports.
Construction is scheduled to begin in 2015. The Purple Line would make stops at the University of Maryland, Silver Spring and Takoma Park and other major population centers.
But, more than 116 home and business owners are going to have to vacate their property to make room for the new train’s route.
This year’s Save the Trail 5K Race and Family Fun Day is a key component of FCCT’s “Now or Never” fundraising campaign that raises money for information and outreach efforts about the benefits of the trail. The race and events will highlight the issues involved in the Purple Line light rail development. And, it will show that there is a long fight ahead to continue to protect the developer-led Purple Line’s $2.4 billion destruction of the Capital Crescent Trail, organizers said.
The race provides a chance for the community to learn more and provide feedback on the effort to preserve the trail. The FCCT is focused on bringing what it calls the Purple Line’s numerous flaws to light, including:
- A price tag that has more than doubled since conception
- The elimination of federal and state endangered species habitats
- The clear-cutting of more than 40 acres of heavily used regional parkland
- The undermining of taxpayer funded environmental programs to mitigate storm water runoff, rainwater harvesting, existing conservation laws, and the pending cost of carbon bill
- Increased density without addressing traffic
- Increasing density while reducing park space
“The fact is, the Purple Line is expensive and doesn’t have the funding it needs,” said Bhatt. “Legislators in Maryland and Washington need to know that it doesn’t have the support of the community either.”
The proposed federal budget released this winter included $100 million in federal construction money for the Purple Line’s construction. Maryland transit officials have said they are seeking $900 million in federal funding for the $2.2 billion Purple Line project, the Post says.
For a complete outline of the FCCT’s concerns about the Purple Line, click here to read the Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail’s response to the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).