MDOT MTA Purple Line will open in the spring of 2027

July 17, 2023
The revised opening date of the transit project is the result of an agreement between MDOT MTA and Purple Line Transit Partners.

An agreement between the Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA) and Purple Line Transit Partners (PLTP) will see the 16-mile Purple Line open for service in the spring of 2027. Additionally, MDOT MTA has agreed to provide $148 million to PLTP, which includes an increase of $205 million paid during the construction period, less a $57 million reduction to payments made during the operations and maintenance period. MDOT MTA says the change in net compensation reflects months of collaboration to identify and mitigate delays and reach a resolution.

The revised opening date and change of net compensation will require a change to the Purple Line Public-Private Partnership Agreement, which needs approval from the Maryland Board of Public Works. The board is set to meet July 19.

MDOT MTA explains the change in the project’s schedule reflects delays in utility relocation, constructing a complex project in an urban environment, the national workforce shortage, supply chain issues and “the unique history of the Purple Line Light Rail Project.” The project’s environmental clearance was reinstated following dismissal of a lawsuit brought by opponents of the project. The project also saw a replacement of its design-build contractor in 2022.

“Updating the schedule to reflect the challenges we are facing on the project is an important step in accountability and delivering a project that the region can be proud of,” said Maryland Transit Administrator Holly Arnold. “We are thankful to our partners and the community for their support and patience as we work to complete the Purple Line.”

The delays brought on by the significant legal and contracting challenges left some construction sites dormant for nearly two years before PLTP was able to restart construction.

The project has reached 50 percent completion, with construction progressing along the entire alignment, including utility relocation work and replacement and upgrading of storm drain systems, construction at nine stations, bridge and retaining wall construction, light-rail track being laid and vertical excavation of a 130-foot shaft at the Bethesda Station that will connect Purple Line riders to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Metrorail Red Line.

PLTP is developing a grant program to support community initiatives and to provide tangible resources to organizations in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. The grant program will be in addition to grants available through a partnership with the Maryland Department of Commerce and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties to local businesses negatively affected through revenue loss by the construction of the Purple Line.

“We understand the impacts that prolonged construction creates for the residents and businesses along the Purple Line alignment and will continue to minimize disruptions where possible,” said Ray Biggs, II, Purple Line project director. “We are also focused on improving collaboration with stakeholders and third parties to maximize the ability to advance the rate of construction. For example, this summer, the University of Maryland, College Park, agreed to a closure of Campus Drive and Union Lane to help expedite construction on campus by enabling the contractor to complete construction quicker than if they were working around vehicular traffic.”

To ensure the project continues to make progress, the MTA and PLTP meet weekly to review construction progress, anticipate potential schedule impacts and develop mitigation strategies to reduce the risk of further delays.

“Together with the Maryland Transit Administration and our design-build contractor, Maryland Transit Solutions, we’re doing everything in our power to identify innovative solutions to fast-track progress,” said Purple Line Transit Partners CEO Doran Bosso. “Purple Line Transit Partners values the partnership we have with the Maryland Transit Administration to deliver this important project to the citizens of Maryland, and we strive to be good neighbors to the communities impacted by construction.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.