The Maryland Board of Public Works unanimously approved a modification to the now $9.2 billion Public-Private Partnership or P3 agreement for the 16.2-mile, 21-station Purple Line project – with that $9.2 billion representing the entire cost of building, financing, and managing that light rail project.
[Above photo by the MTA]
The modified agreement makes Maryland Transit Solutions – comprised of Dragados USA Inc. and OHL USA Inc. – the new design-build team in charge of completing the Purple Line.
This light rail project aims to expanding transit opportunities in two of Maryland’s most populated counties, offering convenient east-west transit access for jobs, school, shopping and recreation, and provide connections across the region with links to five branches of Metrorail, three MARC commuter rail lines, Amtrak, and a host of bus services.
However, delays and litigation have bedeviled the Purple Line project – overseen by the Maryland Department of Transportation and its Maryland Transit Administration division – over the last few years. Settlements reached with the previous contracting team in December 2020 paved the way for a new P3 agreement to get the Purple Line back on track.
“Despite the challenges over the last several years, we have never lost sight of the benefits of the Purple Line for the residents and businesses in the National Capital Region,” said Holly Arnold, MTA’s administrator, in a statement.
“[This] action is the critical step needed to move the Purple Line from construction into an active light rail line that creates a truly interconnected regional transit system,” she added. “We wouldn’t be here today without the true partnership with Purple Line Transit Partners and the support of our county, state and federal partners to get this project built.”
MTA noted that rising material costs, material shortages due to supply chain challenges, a smaller labor force, increases in the insurance market, and other factors – including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic – have increased the estimated cost of the Purple Line project and delayed its completion as well.
Due to all of those factors, the agency said the construction costs for completing Purple Line have increased by $1.4 billion, from $2 billion to $3.4 billion. The project, originally scheduled to wrap up in March of this year, should now be finished in the fall of 2026.