In the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC, the Federal Transit Administration has proposed 16-mile east-west Light Rail Transit (LRT) line extending inside the Capital Beltway from New Carrollton in Prince George’s County to Bethesda in Montgomery County. The project will be built above ground, and result in a wide range of negative impacts to homes, businesses, open space and water quality. In addition, the project is likely to adversely affect two amphipod species that exist only in springs and creeks near the project area – the Hays Spring and Kenk’s amphipods, two small shrimp-like creatures that depend on high quality water to survive. The Purple Line is likely to disrupt and contaminate these waters. The Hays Spring amphipod is already listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the Kenk’s amphipod is a candidate for listing.
Rather than promoting more efficient travel for existing residents, the driving force behind the project is to stimulate new commercial and residential development along its route and serve the interests of new residents rather than meeting the needs of existing populations. In addition to the alternative of building underground – where impacts would be minimized – the FTA and its partners have many other lower cost options to meet transit needs including new pedestrian walkways and bike paths or a new dedicated bus line. CSE is helping local residents and advocates monitor the Purple Line decision and persuade federal and state officials to consider lower impact and lower cost options.