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Purple Line Advisory Group To Take Break, Neighborhood Working Groups Next

By Aaron Kraut

Friday - 8/22/2014, 3:00pm  ET

The Purple Line Implementation Advisory Group prepares to start its meeting on July 16 in Silver Spring (file photo)A group of civic leaders, residents, business owners, government officials and transit advocates watching the Purple Line planning process may not meet again until the state has selected a private concessionaire to design and build the light rail project.

The Purple Line Implementation Advisory Group, or PLIAG, was set up by County Executive Isiah Leggett in the spring in response to a request from Councilmembers Roger Berliner (Bethesda, Chevy Chase) and Cherri Branson (Silver Spring). Berliner and Branson asked Leggett to create a formal task force that would bring officials from the Maryland Transit Administration and Montgomery County Department of Transportation to the table with an independently formed group of neighborhood and civic associations along the Purple Line route.

The result was a series of meetings, every two weeks, in which residents brought up concerns about noise, power stations, bike paths, construction staging and other aspects of the 16-mile, $2.37 billion light rail.

County administrator Tom Street, who helped organize the group, wrote in an email that even through some intense meetings, he thinks “the MTA and your County government developed a better appreciation for the Purple Line issues that greatly concern you.”

The PLIAG was scheduled to take a break from mid-August to October. Street wrote in the email all PLIAG meetings will be suspended until at least November, and perhaps until the MTA selects a private concessionaire in January.

The group’s work plan says “Phase 2″ will include neighborhood working groups, to be identified and coordinated by specific issues in each location along the Purple Line route.

The group is set to have an introductory meeting with the concessionaire in April and then working sessions about every two months starting next June. The concessionaire will design, build and operate the Purple Line, based on the requirements laid out by the MTA.

But MTA officials have already indicated they can’t meet with the group as often.

“MTA and County staff will be very busy during this time reviewing alternative concepts, responding to proposer RFIs, issuing addenda and evaluating proposals.  MTA can’t commit to significant involvement during this time period,” reads the PLIAG work plan.