Supporters of the proposed "trolley" between Bethesda and Silver
Spring need to be aware of the devastating impact that a surface-level
rail line would have on the Georgetown Branch hiker-biker Trail. The
"trolley" is the latest incarnation of the Purple Line, the Inner Line
having been selected by the County Council and the Governor. In
reality, the "trolley" would be a light rail commuter train.
The Georgetown Branch Trail sits in the midst of a very narrow
canopy of trees and shrubs. The trail is widely used, not only by
residents of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area, but also by hikers and
bicyclists from throughout the entire Washington D.C. metropolitan
as well as visitors from across the nation. It is a part of the Capital
Pick a warm, sunny day on a week-end or holiday, and you will see
not a few, but quite a number of people of all ages, ethnicities, and
income groups out enjoying the Trail. You will see that even now,
hikers need to make way for bicyclists, and bicyclists for hikers.
Sometimes the bicycle traffic is so heavy that walkers, including young
children and the elderly, are forced to the very edges of the Trail.
There is simply no room on the Georgetown Branch for a train. To
make way for the train, which would almost certainly have to be
double-tracked, virtually the entire canopy of trees would have to be
removed. Furthermore, a surface-level light rail train would be
extremely susceptible to varying weather conditions. One of our heavy
snow falls or ice storms would quickly put such a rail system out of
The only way that a train could be placed along the Georgetown
Branch without destroying the Trail would be to put it underground. I
believe that much of the opposition to this project would disappear,
instead of a surface-level, light rail train, we were to have a heavy
rail line running underground, and connecting directly to Metro. That
would be a more expensive alternative than the current plan, but it
would also be an investment in the future -- providing a needed
transportation link, while preserving the oasis of greenspace that is
the Georgetown Branch hiker-biker Trail and linear park.
As a candidate for Congress, I support the expenditure of Federal
funds, to improve and expand the Metro system. Where new Metro lines
would otherwise destroy neighborhoods and greenspace, Federal money
should be spent to put the rail lines underground. The Georgetown
Branch is one such project which merits the expenditure of Federal
in order to save the Trail, and "bury" the rail.
Deborah had a letter about saving the trail published in the Montgomery
Journal on February 20, 2002. To read the letter, click here:
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