Friday, September 16, 2016

Public hearing on Purple Line environmental impacts October 17

Want to comment on the environmental impacts of the proposed Purple Line light rail project, which would run from downtown Bethesda to Silver Spring and New Carrollton? The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Maryland Department of the Environment are giving you the chance on Monday, October 17, 2016, at 7:00 PM, in the Silver Spring Civic Building auditorium, located at 1 Veterans Place in downtown Silver Spring.

A walk-through informational display will be available for review from 6:00 PM until 7:00 PM, when the public hearing will begin. A time limit of 3 minutes per speaker will be imposed if the number of attendees warrants one.

The 16.2 mile project will impact many small streams, as well as five major ones: Rock Creek, Sligo Creek, Long Branch, the Northwest Branch, and the Northeast Branch. It will affect three watersheds: Rock Creek, and the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. The Purple Line would discharge fill material into these watersheds.

There would be additional environmental impacts on 11937 SF of forested nontidal wetlands, 9552 SF of emergent nontidal wetlands, 71,328 SF of 25-foot nontidal wetland buffers, 5598 SF of palustrine open water, 15346 SF of perennial stream, 19851 SF of intermittent stream, and 1461 SF of ephemeral stream. The Purple Line would also disturb 250144 SF of the 100-year floodplain.

Finally, the project would impact a total of 367 acres of forest. A mitigation and restoration plan to address these impacts has been submitted by the Maryland Transit Administration.

This is another point at which Purple Line opponents could stall the project, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and MDE will decide whether to issue a joint permit. No permit, no Purple Line. With environmental impacts having been a key factor in delays thus far to the project, this hearing will be dealing with issues that are very much still on the table.

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