The Maryland Purple Line construction is to resume after the Maryland board of public works approved $3.4 billion for construction for the 16-mile rail line, which is intended to carry passengers between Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. The construction experienced hiccups five years ago due to a lawsuit filed by the project’s opponent on grounds of environmental concerns. Afterwards the project finally came to a halt last year, when the construction contractor walked away from the project.
A new joint venture called Maryland Transit Solutions, will now serve as the new construction contractor for the Purple light rail line Project. The state officials mentioned that out of the two bidders, this Dragados-led team was selected because it had a better technical proposal and lower price. The new team will replace the previous one which was led by the Texas-based Fluor.
Purple light rail line to be managed by PLTP for 30 years after completion
The initial 5.6 billion financial agreement between the state and the private consortium called Purple Line Transit Partners(PLTP) was modified and this caused the state to pay an additional $3.7 billion; this is inclusive of the $250 million legal settlement which the state previously paid to PLTP, after its previous contractor quit. Under the agreement terms, PLTP is expected to cover additional costs during the construction phase. But after the light rail system opens, it will be managed and operated by PLTP, and the state will repay PLTP over a period of 30 years.
Full construction work on the Purple light rail line is expected to resume this spring and the new team will start working on the incomplete rail bridges that were left hanging midair, after the previous construction team quit in 2020. The opening date of this light rail system, which was originally planned for this year, has now been extended to fall of 2026. But before the light rail system becomes fully operational, a stretch of test track between New Carrollton and Beacon is expected to be completed in two years, with a system wide full testing to follow in the winter of the next year.
The Purple light rail line will connect three metro lines from suburb to suburb and consist of 21 stations. A total of 28 light rail vehicles will be used for the rail, eight of which have been completed and are available for shipment. An additional eight are undergoing static testing, while eight more are being assembled in Elmira N.Y. The vehicles are expected to arrive at the Glenridge Operations & Maintenance facility in Prince George’s County by the fall of next year.
What we reported in June 2021
US$183.5 million approved for Maryland Purple Line construction
US$183.5 million was approved by the Maryland Board of Public works for a consultant overseeing construction contracts on the delayed Purple Line until the companies managing the light-rail project hire a new lead contractor. The program’s temporary management consultant will continue to oversee 150 contracts that the Maryland Transit Administration took over last fall to keep some work moving after the construction team led by Texas-based Fluor quit the 16-mile project over delay-related cost disputes. Most major construction has stalled, but work that has continued includes moving utility lines and manufacturing light-rail vehicles in Upstate New York.
State transportation officials say the US$183.5 million is not a cost increase because it was already in the Maryland Purple Line projec’s US$2 billion budget for work that would have done by the Fluor team. In December, the Board of Public Works approved a US$250 million legal settlement connected to the Fluor team’s departure. The contract extension approved Wednesday brings to US$398.5 million the total paid or allocated to the joint venture of engineering firms RK&K and consulting firm WSP. The additional oversight work was supposed to have been done by the team initially hired to design and build the line, the consultants “have taken on an even more significant role since the departure of the design-build contractor, which has allowed the state to continue critical work on the project during this interim period,” said Erin Henson, spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Transportation.
Under the Maryland Transit Administration’s request to the Board of Public Works, the end of the consulting contract would be extended from mid-2023 to mid-2027. The first time the MTA has signaled that the line’s completion is potentially four years behind schedule. The line was initially scheduled to begin carrying passengers in March 2022, but the consulting contract would extend about a year beyond any opening date.
What we reported in December 2020
US$250 million deal to complete Purple Line approved, Maryland
A US$250 million legal deal has been approved by the Board of Public Works in Maryland to continue and complete construction at the light-rail Purple Line project within nine months. The board that is composed of three members voted unanimously to pay the companies managing the construction to resolve delay-related contract disputes that began 3 years ago. The project that is about 40 percent complete is expected to take another three or so months to refinance the remaining work before construction would resume. Under the agreement, the firms will hire a new construction contractor within one year, although that is expected to take closer to six months according to the Maryland Transportation Secretary.
The Purple Line was initially scheduled to be operational by March 2022, but the previous contractor said it wouldn’t begin carrying passengers until late 2024. The light-rail project is 16 miles long and will extend from Bethesda in Montgomery County to New Carrollton in Prince George’s County. It will provide a direct connection to the Metrorail Red, Green, and Orange Lines; at Bethesda, Silver Spring, College Park, and New Carrollton. The line will also connect to MARC, Amtrak, and local bus services. The construction companies will receive the first US$100 million of the settlement by December 31. The state will pay the remaining US$150 million within 12 months, whenever the state and PLTP sign a new financial agreement after the contractor is replaced the secretary stated.
With the US$250 million settlement, the Purple Line partnership is now valued at US$5.84 billion. It is one of the first US transit projects to rely on private financing. The private financial partner, Purple Line Transit Partners, now consists of infrastructure investors Meridiam and Star America. A third company, Fluor, which also led the construction joint venture, will leave the partnership as part of the agreement.