Maryland’s Purple Line a Risk to Endangered Amphipods

Purple Line blog imageMaryland’s new Purple Line – an east-west extension of its Metrorail system – belongs underground or should be scrapped in favor of more ecologically sustainable transit options. To save on project costs, the Federal Transit Administration and a host of other federal and state agencies have developed a plan to build the new addition above ground where the impacts to homes, businesses, rare open space and the water quality of Rock Creek will be at its maximum.

In their haste to rush the project through, federal and state officials overlooked the impacts the project will have on the endangered Hays Spring amphipod and on Kenk’s amphipod, a candidate for endangered status. The Hays Spring amphipod is a tiny shrimp like crustacean, whose habitat requirements include clean water that seeps from the last remaining undamaged waterways in and around Rock Creek Park, the crown jewel of metro DC’s park system. Habitat requirements for Kenk’s amphipod are similar.

CSE has joined environmental attorney John Fitzgerald and other nearby homeowners in a fight to get the FTA to reconsider the Purple Line’s route and meet its statutory obligation to protect these rare species. An alternative underground route makes much more sense logistically. Moreover, the driving force for the proposal is not to improve transit but to enable large-scale residential and commercial development at Connecticut Avenue and along the Capitol Crescent Trail and to provide those new residents with access to Bethesda that is easier than taking a walk, a bike, a bus, a pedal cab or motor cab or a new dedicated bus line. Any of these could cost much less and lead to less net pollution and risk to the communities affected. CSE has joined with Mr. Fitzgerald and others on comments to the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the project, and is considering litigation if the FTA fails to comply with the Endangered Species Act.

For a copy of the Purple Line FEIS comments and related materials click here to visit the project page.

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    One thought on “Maryland’s Purple Line a Risk to Endangered Amphipods

    1. Christine Real de Azua

      The Purple Line “will disparately impact low-income and minority communities in the Purple Line corridor,” warns CASA de Maryland, the largest Latino and immigrant organization in the state of Maryland. What’s more, the Line’s ballooning costs swallow up public dollars in state and County budgets to the detriment of much-needed improvements and expansion of other public transit networks serving those less well off. A Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI)-based analysis of the Purple Line would help identify public transit alternatives that are more ecologically sustainable and equitable.

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