COLLEGE PARK, MD -- The start of fall semester at The University of Maryland has been met with construction of a new commuter rail line.
"It's a balance," said Carlo Colella, the university's vice president of finance and administration. "I think it's understandable that some change is always met with concern."
Five of 21 stops planned for the Purple Line, which will connect New Carrollton to Bethesda, are on or near campus. State officials broke ground on the above-ground light rail project year ago.
Orange traffic barrels now line Campus Drive. The primary artery through campus is now down to one lane of traffic instead of the usual two.
"I think most people think it's an inconvenience," said Rachel Hirschheimer, a junior journalism major. She stressed most undergrads on campus now won't get to reap the rewards of a new rail line.
"I guess they don't see the benefits," said Hirschheimer.
The project is also forcing the relocation of the university's iconic "M circle" a centerpiece of graduation photos for 40 years. Construction of a new "M circle" is also slated to begin this fall.
Colella, a 1983 graduate, said he was skeptical of that idea at first but now considers the relocation of the "M circle" a safer and necessary change to make way for a "transformative transportation project."
"When I was a student this was very much a commuter campus," said Colella. "Now the connectivity is going to be remarkable."