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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.

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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.

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