Purple Line tree clearing, construction pick up

ROCKVILLE, Md. — With the latest legal hurdles cleared, Purple Line construction ramped up Monday to include more tree clearing along the Georgetown Branch Trail.

Opponents of the work still hope to stop the line, and asked the Montgomery County Council on Monday to support them.

Council President Roger Berliner promised the county will act as a watchdog on the state-controlled project, but said construction should move forward.

The council will hear Thursday about the status of the 16-mile 21-stop light rail line at a hearing that will also be an opportunity for the council to press for answers about the agreements surrounding construction.

“To make sure that everyone understands the rules of the game. Are there other rules that have changed that we don’t know?” Berliner told reporters.

As the council member who represents the area, Berliner said he has yet to hear back from the state about changes beyond reduced notification requirements for certain closures.

The quicker move into construction was prompted by lengthy delays due to court battles over the line. Late Friday, a U.S. District Court judge denied opponents’ latest legal efforts to block construction work. A previous lawsuit that contributed to a delay of more than a year is due to be heard by an appeals court panel in a few weeks.

The line is being built and will be operated by a group of private companies under a contract with the state. The county is funding part of the rebuilt trail along the tracks between Bethesda and New Carrollton.

“How firm is the state going to be in ensuring that the concessionaire lives up to the terms of the deal?” Berliner said he wants to know.

Riders will be able to transfer to or from the Metro system at Bethesda, Silver Spring, College Park and New Carrollton.

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