Feeling Black and Blue About the Purple Line

It might surprise many people to think that I am a big advocate of mass transit (so long as taxpayer money is not overly involved). I have been living in the DC metro area for almost 20 years now and I have heard talk of the Purple line for almost that long. Marc Fisher writes about some of the problems. This strikes me as important in the debate:

Spend some time behind the battle lines of the War of the Purple Line (and believe me, there are folks who have devoted decades of their lives to this thing) and my bet is you will come out as I have, concluding that pretty much all of them are right. But they are so right, so committed to their path as the one true way, that their positions have hardened and the very notion of compromise strikes them as abhorrent.

This particular observation is a result of the long and bitter debate about the Purple line. To be absolutly frank, even with Obama Job Corps workers, this thing is not going to get built and that is a shame. First, the bloody thing is going to be phenomenally expensive to build, something like $2-$3 million per mile for on grade building, double that and more if the builders have to tunnel or elevate the tracks in anyway. That is just for the tracks, to say nothing of the stations, etc that will have to be built to support the line.

But even if the line could be built much cheaper than that cost, the intractibility of the various parties means that any opportunity to begin building in the next four years is incredibly unlikely. So, by the time we can even consider getting something built, it won’t be able to move forward.

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Maryland blew their chance to get this done more than 15 years ago. Today, the growth and density along any path that could be utilized is going to already overdeveloped and unlikely to be to successful.

A shame.

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