Building another entrance to the Bethesda Metro station is not necessary for the construction of the Purple Line light rail like many Purple Line advocates have claimed, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett wrote in a memo to Council President Roger Berliner Monday.
"It is unlikely that Purple Line construction would begin with the Bethesda Station," he said, urging the County Council to rethink their considerations to fund the entrance now and take away funds from other more pressing projects. "We should not put the proverbial cart before the horse."
The new entrance will be near the southeast corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Elm Street and is intended to provide Metrorail riders with access to the Purple Line, a light rail planned to run 16 miles from Bethesda to New Carrollton and scheduled to start construction in fiscal 2016.
County Council members have said funding the new entrance now sends a message to the state that the county is fully committed to the Purple Line and gives the project a leg up in the competition for federal funding. But this assumption isn't accurate, Leggett said.
"To the assertion that not including the South Bethesda funding in the current [capital budget] would be a 'negative signal' to the state on the Purple Line, the Maryland Department of Transportation assured us today that such is not the case at all," he wrote. "The notion that the county need only show greater monetary commitment to the Purple Line and the other funding sources will fall into place is simply not realistic."
The county instead should allocate money to projects like the redevelopment of Wheaton, the funds for which, Leggett said, some council members have suggested be reallocated toward the Bethesda project.
"Now is the time to move forward in Wheaton," he wrote. "I am committed to fully funding the South Bethesda entrance and moving forward on the Purple Line at the appropriate time."