Transportation Bill Could Put Bethesda Metro South Entrance Back On Schedule

Bethesda Metro Station South Entrance, via MTAWith progress on a transportation bill in Annapolis that could provide funding for the Purple Line, the debate over Montgomery County’s Bethesda Metro Station South Entrance might re-emerge this budget season.

On April 17, the County Council’s Transportation & Environment Committee will discuss County Executive Isiah Leggett’s proposed amendments to transportation projects, including a six-month delay of the South Entrance project that drew some criticism.

Leggett said his recommended six-month funding delay in the FY 2014 Capital Budget wouldn’t actually delay the project as it is tied into building the Purple Line station. The estimated $80 million entrance would connect the Metro platform 120 feet underground with high speed elevators to the Purple Line station at Elm Street west of Wisconsin Avenue.

At the time the recommended delay was announced, the state portion of funding for the 16-mile, east-to-west light rail project was uncertain.

With a gas tax hike proposal going to a vote in the House of Delegates this week and with support from State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, some form of state transportation funding for the Purple Line looks likely to come out of the General Assembly by the time it’s scheduled to adjourn on April 8.

In a Committee hearing on Monday on the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan, which as proposed would use Purple Line funding as a trigger for a second stage of development, County staff transportation expert Glenn Orlin said the Bethesda Metro South Entrance would come up in the Council’s budget review process.

Orlin pointed it out after Councilman George Leventhal (D-At large) asked for a Maryland Transit Administration briefing on the status of the project after the General Assembly if funding is passed.

“You’re going to have that discussion in just a couple of weeks because the executive recommended delaying the Bethesda Metro South Entrance project, so it’s tied to the schedule,” Orlin said.

Image via Maryland Transit Administration

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