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Town Hall Meeting to Test UMD’s Position on Purple Line

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The University of Maryland faculty, staff, students and members of the community will be gathering in a town hall meeting tonight, hosted by UMD’s President’s Office, to discuss the Purple Line light rail system. 

After years of uncertainty from the UMD administration’s part, the new president Dr. Wallace Loh has indicated his willingness to support the project. For a decade, the previous president C. Daniel Mote consistently opposed the project on the ground of vibration and safety. A recent study on the project has dismissed such concerns.

The proposed transit line would run between Bethesda and New Carrollton, passing through Silver Spring, Takoma Park, the College Park campus, and Riverdale.

The town hall will be held tonight, February 1, 2011, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., in the Colony Ballroom, on the second floor of the Stamp Student Union.

Hopes run high on the change of direction from UMD’s new president.

“Loh seems to have a better understanding of the importance of a good city-university relationship than his predecessor did and does not appear tied to the views of the past. He has provided hope for a more symbiotic relationship between the city and the university and now has a chance to take a major step forward in strengthening that connection.”– commented District 4 council member Marcus Afzali, in an op-ed to the Washington Post. “Loh should listen to the opinions of his own student body, local residents and elected officials, and transportation experts and support the aboveground Campus Drive alignment of the Purple Line.” – Afzali added.

According to the announcement from Mr. Loh’s office, A formal program will open the meeting, providing information about the federal competition for light rail funding, factors affecting the decision about the University alignment, and pros and cons of at least two campus alignments.  A panel of experts will include representatives from the federal government, the Maryland Transit Administration, Hatch Mott MacDonald (engineering consulting firm), and our faculty and staff.  Don Kettl, Dean of the School of Public Policy, will serve as the moderator. 

Following the short formal presentations, we will welcome questions, suggestions, and comments from the audience.  Because of limited time, we ask that questions and comments be kept to two minutes.

Proceedings of this Purple Line forum can also be viewed live via web stream (please check www.umd.edu for the streaming link), and a videotape of the meeting will be posted on the University website.  Those who cannot attend the meeting can also submit their comments to president@umd.edu.

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