The stalled Purple Line project is expected to roar back to life as soon as the spring now that a new team of builders has been selected to complete the chronically delayed 16-mile light-rail line.
Purple Line Transit Partners, in consultation with the Maryland Department of Transportation and Maryland Transit Administration, announced Friday that Dragados USA Inc. and OHL USA Inc., operating as Maryland Transit Solutions, will finish the $5.6 billion project. Financial terms were not released.
The next steps, per a release, “include finalizing contracts as PLTP advances efforts to secure required financing.” Only after the state’s Board of Public Works has approved the new contractor, a replacement design-build contract and an amended public-private partnership agreement — and the financing is closed — will work restart.
“Next spring, MTS is expected to mobilize and resume full-scale construction of the Purple Line,” per a release.
The news comes just shy of a year after the state and Purple Line Transit Partners — a consortium that originally included Meridiam, Star America and Fluor Enterprises — reached a $250 million settlement agreement ensuring the project would go on. That deal put an end to all current litigation and covered outstanding financial claims. But it also saw the exit from the partnership of Texas-based Fluor, which served as the lead contractor.
The last year has largely been about finding a new builder. Three groups were initially in contention — the Dragados USA and OHL USA team was selected over a joint venture of Tutor-Perini and Lunda. A third shortlisted team, Halmar International, did not submit a final proposal, the state said.
Per a release, Dragados’ portfolio of projects includes the Los Angeles International Airport’s $2.4 billion automated people mover and three light-rail projects in Canada. OHL is a global infrastructure giant.
The Purple Line will connect Bethesda to New Carrollton via 21 stations, including four stops in College Park. Work largely stopped in September 2020 after a judge ruled the contractors could walk off the job because of the ongoing dispute over cost overruns and delays. The ruling came after Maryland Secretary of Transportation Gregory Slater rejected claims in the summer of 2020 that the original builders were entitled to hundreds of millions in payments.
“We have made a lot of progress in this interim period,” Slater said in a statement Friday. “Today’s news is one more step towards completion and one more step towards Marylanders riding on this critical transit connection.”
“Attendance for the first Redeye exceeded our wildest dreams. In this new world, as we navigate vaccination / PCR checks, and immense interest in returning to large events, patrons waited longer than anticipated and ultimately stayed longer inside the event than we had expected.” — No Kings Collective, organizers of the Redeye Night Market, a food festival celebrating the Asian diaspora held in downtown D.C. Saturday on Instagram Sunday. Thousands of people came out for the unticketed event, leading to wait times of 90 minutes or more to enter while staff checked for Covid vaccination or tests. Once inside, the long lines continued for food at individual stalls. The group acknowledged it “fell short of demand” and promised improvements for next year.