Capital Crescent Trail tunnel in danger of not being built

The Purple line may put the the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda in jeopardy.

For nearly 10,000 people per week, the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda is a place to cycle, walk and run. However, the popular trail may not be getting an expensive upgrade that was promised as part of the MTA Purple Line.

As work on the planned light rail line, which will connect Bethesda to New Carrollton, progresses, trail users currently use a tunnel near the corner of Woodmont and Bethesda avenues.

That tunnel, though, will be demolished once construction begins, and advocates say they've been promised an elevated tunnel to prevent people from having to cross the heavily-trafficked Wisconsin Avenue.

"It's already dangerous, which is one of the things about the tunnel being an option for people," Jim Roy from Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail said. "Keeping it open is essential."

The main difference between the elevated tunnel and a street-level path is the cost. The Montgomery County Council says that a tunnel would cost $50 million to construct, while the path crossing Wisconsin would cost just $3 million.

It's a difference that Montgomery County Council Chairman Roger Berliner says will be an important factor in the final decision.

"In these economic times, $47 million is a serious consideration," Berliner said. "People like myself who are committed to having the trail the best it can bee still have to take that into account."

For heavy trail users like Thomas Jones, a promise is a promise.

"It's very disappointing that they promised something (and) now they're not delivering," Jones said.

Some, though, are ready to use the trail no matter what the outcome.

"It puts a little dent in my run, but nothing that I can't overcome," trail user Alexis Raymond said.