Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn said Wednesday the state saved nearly $30 million by altering the design of the Silver Spring Transit Center’s Purple Line station.
Rahn said the changes to the station’s design were among the most significant the state made to the construction plan for the Purple Line before reaching a final agreement with Purple Line Transit Partners, the team of construction companies and investment firms the state announced Wednesday will be responsible for constructing, financing, operating and maintaining the light-rail line.
So what’s the difference between the old and the new design?
The original plan for the Silver Spring Transit Center called for the station to be located in an area between the Red Line Metro station and the transit center, according to 2013 Montgomery County planning documents. The plan called for the station to be built 81 feet above the ground, which would have put it one level above the third floor of the transit center on Colesville Road. A mezzanine below the Purple Line station’s platform would have connected directly to the rebuilt Capital Crescent Trail and included stairs and an elevator to connect passengers to the Red Line/MARC stations and the transit center.
Previous layout for Silver Spring Transit Center Purple Line station.
The original plan also called for the acquisition of 1110 Bonifant St., a five-story brick office building, to make way for the Purple Line tracks, which will extend along Bonifant Street toward the new Silver Spring Library at the intersection of Wayne Avenue and Fenton Street. That building was most recently assessed at $8.2 million, according to Maryland real estate records.
The 1110 Bonfiant St. building, via Google Maps.
The new plan, as shown in architectural drawings included in the agreement with Purple Line Transit Partners (below), calls for the station to be located in what’s currently a grassy area next to the Silver Spring Transit Center that borders Colesville Road and Wayne Avenue. The new layout calls for the transit center to be between the Purple Line station and the Metro station.
Architectural drawings of new layout via Purple Line Transit Partners. Click to expand.
Erin Henson, a spokeswoman for the state’s transportation department, said in an email the new design eliminated the need for the station to be built more than 80 feet above Colesville Road. She said constructing the station that high above ground would require many weekend Red Line closures when “Purple Line construction cranes would have been swinging over the Red Line tracks.”
She also noted that reducing the height of the station will make it easier for passengers to access and cut down on the station’s exposure to wind. The state will also save the money it would have spent to purchase and demolish the private office building.
The new location means Purple Line passengers heading to the Red Line will have a slightly longer walk. However, the Purple Line platform would still be built at the same level as the top floor of the transit center, which would be a short walk to buses and taxis at the transit center. The Purple Line station in this design would also be closer to downtown Silver Spring destinations such as The Fillmore Silver Spring, AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center and Discovery Communications Inc. by a couple hundred feet.
Patrick Lacefield, a spokesman for County Executive Ike Leggett, said in an email Wednesday the county didn’t find any significant problems with the changes in the station plan.
Ronit Dancis, president of the Action Committee for Transit, said in an email that moving the station closer to the heart of downtown Silver Spring has its benefits.
“But there are also minuses to moving it a bit further from the Red Line,” Dancis wrote. “We are going to watch this—and all other details—closely.”
A drawing of the track path under the new design. Via Purple Line Transit Partners. Click to expand.
An additional drawing of the new layout via Purple Line Transit Partners.