Chevy Chase Lake Purple Line Station commute shed, via National Center for Smart Growth Research & Education

A group of University of Maryland researchers explored how the Purple Line light rail would affect affordable housing, commute times and connections between major employment centers.

The National Center for Smart Growth Research & Education displayed maps showing how the so-called Purple Line Corridor might change at a conference a few weeks ago. The 16-mile, $2.37 billion system would generally mean rising property values — especially in east Montgomery County and Prince George’s County — and declining commute times, thanks to an east-west high-speed transit link through the D.C. suburbs.

For a broader read on the group’s research, check out Greater Greater Washington writer Dan Reed’s story from Wednesday.

The most interesting Bethesda-Chevy Chase tidbits from the research are probably maps of existing “commute sheds” at each station site compared to projections of what those commute sheds might look like when the Purple Line is built. The Maryland Transit Administration hopes to begin construction in late 2015 and complete the project in 2020.

The researchers divided the 16-mile corridor into five sub-areas. The Bethesda-Chevy Chase sub-area has the lowest population (19,045), highest employment number (41,091) and highest median household income ($141,331). The existing 12 percent of residents who use public transit put Bethesda-Chevy Chase on par with the other areas, according to the research.


The commute shed maps (click on the maps above to enlarge) show the range someone from each station site could travel using existing transit in 30 minutes, 45 minutes and 60 minutes at 9:15 a.m.

The Bethesda Station commute shed with the Purple Line shows decreased commute times, presumably via Purple Line-to-bus connections, to points in east Montgomery County. It also extends the 60-minute commute range to Prince George’s County locations such as College Park, where there will be a Purple Line station.

But the bigger benefit — at least in terms of shorter commute times — would come to those who use the Chevy Chase Lake station (labeled as the Connecticut Avenue Station in the map.)


Because the area is in between the east and west sides of Metro’s Red Line, the Purple Line would provide for a much greater 45-minute commute range into D.C., according to researchers.

The group also looked into subsidized housing that would be at risk because of rising property values. Researchers found subsidized housing along Bradley Bouelvard that could be threatened.

Images via the National Center for Smart Growth Research & Education