President Loh at the forum (PupleLineNow)

It has been nearly a decade of continuous opposition to the purple line for the University of Maryland President and his administration.

That policy changed last week, when UMD’s new president Dr. Wallace Loh threw his clear backing behind the Purple Line development.

“Not having a Purple Line is not an option,” Loh said in front of an enthusiastic audience at a town hall meeting last week.

“It is very important that all of us engage in the issues that the Purple Line raises, but do keep in mind we can’t forever debate this at this early stage.” – Loh added.

Rethink College Park, College Park’s smart growth blog site, reports: “Wallace Loh reiterated his view that no issue is more important to the future of the university and surrounding communities than the Purple Line.  He pointed out that the timetable for recommendations from the university and the state is now rather compressed.

The PurpleLineNow, the advocacy group for the project was equally excited:

Purple Line NOW! welcomes the healthy discussion of the campus alignment seen at the Feb. 1 Town Hall Meeting, and also agrees with President Loh that we can’t forever debate this.

With Loh’s approval now under the belt, supporters now expect the next step will be for MDOT/MTA to get approval from the Federal Transit Administration to move ahead with the engineering phase.

College Park’s City council members are equally optimistic that the time is ripe for things to move forward on this development.

“I was very enthusiastic about the forum Purple Line last week. Dr. Loh has shown that he understands the importance of thePurple line to the future of the campus and the city as well as the importance of having an open and transparent decision process.” said District 4 council member Marcus Afzali.

Afzali went on to say: “The quality of the panel was impressive, the comments from the audience largely supportive of the Campus Drive alignment was reassuring, and the fact that the importance of local consensus to getting federal funding was strongly pushed was key.”

Afzali’s comments were shared by Patrick Wojahn, district 1 council member.

“Of course, I’m very excited about Dr. Loh’s commitment to making the Purple Line happen.  This means that all the relevant parties are committed to the project moving forward, and will not let disagreement on the alignment prevent the project from happening. ” – said Mr. Wojahn.

Moving forward, Afzali wants supporters of Purple line to get engaged in moving their cause further. “People who believe in a 21st century infrastructure for our community and support the Purple Line  should take some steps” – Afzali recommends.

Afzali wants Purple Line supporters to e-Mail Dr. Loh at voicing their support, write a letter to the Gazette or Diamondback.

But he also asks supporters to be patient. ” (We should) understand that this is a big decision for Dr. Loh and he understands the time pressures and importance and is following a well thought out process.”