Anticipation builds for Purple Line construction

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — With the Purple Line due to reach a major milestone soon, excitement is growing among supporters of the light rail line that will connect Bethesda and New Carrollton.

The state of Maryland is expected to announce in March, which private partner it has picked to build and operate the line.

That’s the word from Ralph Bennett with the nonprofit group Purple Line Now, which held a panel discussion about the project Monday at the University of Maryland, College Park.

The rail line will go right through campus.

Ken Ulman, the university’s chief strategy officer for economic development, says the school is on the rise and the Purple Line will help.

“This is at the heart of our economic development strategy,” Ulman says, “and we really believe that this level of connectivity and accessibility is critical for places in the 21st century economy to thrive.”

Ulman promises students will be able to ride free along part of the line.

“This will be a fare-free zone between the five stops for folks with a university ID,” he said.

Maya Spaur with the University of Maryland’s Student Government Association says the Purple Line will help commuter students get to class more easily.

“It’ll also help bring (students) more access to grocery stores. Some people have called College Park a bit of a food desert,” she added.

The hope is to begin construction on the Purple Line this fall, and have it open by 2021.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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