Purple Line Officials Detail Landscaping Plans for Light-Rail Line in Bethesda, Chevy Chase
Planting of trees, shrubs and evergreens planned to spruce up the transit system
Members of the Bethesda/ Chevy Chase Purple Line Community Advisory Team receive an update on the project's landscaping plans at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School cafeteria on Wednesday night
The landscaping plans for the Purple Line’s route through Bethesda and Chevy Chase will include native plants selected to be low maintenance and trees to provide shade to passengers and users of the new trail that will run along the line.
Andrea Lake, a landscape architect working with Purple Line Transit Partners, the team of companies building the 16.2-mile light-rail line, said at a Community Advisory Team meeting in Bethesda on Wednesday night that the landscaping will include a mix of large trees, small trees, evergreens, shrubs, grasses and vines.
The advisory team consists of local residents, community association leaders and others who receive regular updates on the project from construction and state officials.
Lake explained where the plants and trees would be planted along the light-rail line’s route from the Bethesda station to Jones Mill Road—the stretch of the light-rail line that encompasses a large portion of the former Georgetown Branch Trail. The line will run from Bethesda to New Carrollton.
Click to expand the plant palette images for a more detailed look.
Lake said all the landscaping materials used along the light-rail line will be pervious to prevent stormwater runoff. “All this material is natural,” Lake said.
Purple Line Transit Partners presented a map that included small symbols representing where the plants would be added. It also shows the new walking and biking trail that will be built along the light-rail line between Bethesda and Silver Spring.
Use the download button in the lower right-hand corner of the Scribd document viewer to download a high resolution PDF of the maps.
Lake said certain sections of the route are too constrained for landscaping, such as along the southern portion of tracks to be built near the Town of Chevy Chase. Crews won’t be able to install landscaping too close to the tracks, utilities or a traction power substation due to potential maintenance issues, according to Lake.
Areas where considerable landscaping are proposed include where the light-rail line will pass by The Columbia Country Club and west of a planned bridge over Connecticut Avenue. West of the bridge, crews plan to plant small trees to reforest the area behind Parkway Custom Drycleaning on Connecticut Avenue near Coquelin Run.
Jim Jewell, the construction manager for the project in the Bethesda and Chevy Chase area, said crews are continuing to clear trees along the former Georgetown Branch Trail to make way for construction.
Construction on the project began in August and the initial phase has focused on tree clearing, staging equipment and utility relocation.
Jewell said it’s possible weekend tree clearing could begin as crews near an April 1 deadline, when tree cutting is limited because of federal restrictions designed to protect migrating birds.
He also said roadway lane closures will begin in the area over the coming months—between the hours of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays. Lane closures are expected on East West Highway, and a member of the Community Advisory Team told Purple Line officials not to close the road’s westbound lanes into downtown Bethesda until well after 9 a.m. because doing so earlier could cause significant traffic backups.
Officials also said progress is underway on the Bethesda station. The station is being built underneath the former Apex Building, where Carr Properties is developing a three-tower structure. Mike Madden, the project’s deputy director, said drilling will take place at the site through June to excavate for the station.
As Carr develops its new complex at the site, the company’s construction crews will install a “shell” underground for the station that will enable Purple Line crews to build the station while Carr constructs its structure, Madden said.
The light-rail line is projected to open in 2022, although state Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn said earlier this month that there may be a delay in its opening due to legal challenges that delayed the start of construction.