Popular Md. jogging trail closes as Purple Line construction begins

BETHESDA, Md. — The Georgetown Branch Trail has long been a popular trail for walkers and bicyclists in Montgomery County, but starting Tuesday, it will be closed to make way for the Purple Line.

It’s the beginning of a four- to five-year closure, during which construction will take place for the light rail line, which will connect Bethesda with Silver Spring and New Carrollton. The stretch of the trail, which is part of the Capital Crescent Trail, stretches from Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda to Talbot Avenue in Silver Spring.

A detour has been established by project planners, but it’s a far cry from the original trail’s car-free, tree-lined path. The alternate route encourages people to use several neighborhood streets, Jones Bridge Road and a small section of Rock Creek Park.

The Maryland Department of Transportation said on a website for the Purple Line project that the closing of the trail is necessary to ensure the safety of trail users.

Work on the $2 billion private-public partnership project will take place during the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. between Monday and Friday. Planners work on the line may happen seven days a week.

As equipment gets put into place, there is a possibility for another delay for the project. Opponents of the Purple Line, Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail, said Monday that it plans to ask a judge to impose a temporary restraining order, which could halt construction work. The group has several lawsuits filed in its fight against the project and it’s unclear if any of those challenges will push back the building of the line.

At first, MDOT said crews will begin with tree removal and necessary storm water drainage improvements. The department said early work will also consist of removing building that is in the project’s right-of-way, moving utility lines and creating access roads for the building project.

Planners are hoping for a 2022 completion of the Purple Line project.

Below is a map of the alternate trail route.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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