In Chevy Chase, MD county planners have revised plans for the Chevy Chase Lake Sector from high rise, mixed-use development to low-rise, primarily residential buildings. The trigger to allow for higher-density development will be the arrival of the Purple Line, a proposed light rail that would stretch across Metro’s Red Line.
The light rail would connect Bethesda directly to New Carollton. Construction is scheduled to be completed by 2020, but I for one am not betting on a light rail by that time. For one, no funding has been secured, and for another reason the project is met with considerable opposition to NIMBY-ists in Bethesda and Silver Spring. The town of Chevy Chase has been the most vocal opponent of the project.
Personally, I could see the Purple Line being very well-used, and potentially coming closer to profitability than the “cherry blossom” line. However, waiting for the arrival of transit to permit Transit Oriented Development creates a chicken and egg problem. When high-density development is not allowed where there is demand for it, the restriction limits potential for other viable transit options. For example increasing density along the proposed Purple Line could allow for a Circulator or increased MTA routes to provide service in the meantime. And opposition to the light rail is likely to remain strong as long as residents don’t see the clear value of mass transit in their municipalities.