Maryland BPW approves Purple Line settlement; light-rail project will progress

Dec. 17, 2020
The approved settlement ends current litigation and clears the way to bring in a new design-build contractor.

The Maryland Board of Public Works (BPW) approved an agreement between the state and the organizations comprising its public-private partnership (P3) in the Purple Line that will end all current litigation and move the project forward.  

“The projection is that the Purple Line will take at least 17,000 cars off the road every day, which will help to relieve traffic congestion and which will help make our environment cleaner and healthier. This project is at the heart of our state’s balanced, all-inclusive approach to infrastructure,” Gov. Larry Hogan said in remarks before the BPW. “The Purple Line is a long time coming, and we have certainly had to overcome some significant hurdles that set us back. Opponents delayed it for two years, costing taxpayers money, and threatened to kill this critical project, but we kept pushing and working hard to keep moving forward.”

The $250-million agreement will see the state pay Purple Line Transit Partners (PLTP) $100 million by Dec. 31, 2020, with the balance of $150 million to be paid either on the date a new design-build contractor is brought onto the project or 12 months following approval of the agreement, which would be Dec. 16, 2021.

PLTP originally sought an $800-million settlement and Gov. Hogan offered praise of Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Gregory Slater, Meridiam and Star America, two of the P3’s original entities, for “engaging in some very tough negotiations which have resulted in successfully saving Maryland taxpayers more than $550 million.”

A partnership between Meridiam and Star America will continue to coordinate with the state to solicit and secure a new design-build contractor for the light-rail project.

Secretary Slater told the BPW there is a conservative timeline to finalize a new design-build contractor in place within nine months, but he noted he doesn’t think the process will take that full time citing current interest in the project from the marketplace.

“We will now be able to move forward with a new design-build contractor more aligned with our vision and the best interests of Maryland taxpayers,” said Gov. Hogan. “I want to thank all of the dedicated workers who have been out on the job continuing to keep construction going while we worked around the clock working out the details of this negotiated agreement.”

Once complete, the Purple Line light-rail project will run between Bethesda, Md., and New Carrollton and provide connections to Red, Green and Orange Metrorail lines, MARC and Amtrak rail services, as well as local buses.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group 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.

Maryland Department of Transportation/Maryland Transit Administration
A rendering of a surface-level Purple Line station.
Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration
Rebar is laid in September 2019 as support for the Purple Line light-rail project. The team responsible for the project's construction, Purple Line Transit Constructors has decided to pull out of the project.