Purple Line: Opening 4 years later, cost $1.4 billion more to complete

Maryland transit officials say the Purple Line will carry passengers in fall 2026 if a new construction contractor begins work this spring.

Maryland’s Purple Line would begin carrying passengers in the Washington suburbs in fall 2026 — 4½ years behind schedule — and cost an additional $1.4 billion to build under a proposed contract to complete the beleaguered light-rail project, state transportation officials said Wednesday.

The longer-term financial implications would be steeper. The state’s cost of a broader agreement for a private concessionaire to build, operate and maintain the line for several decades would climb from $5.6 billion to $9.3 billion.

If the state’s Board of Public Works approves the new construction contract and broader financial agreement Jan. 26, the private concessionaire would need to secure financing in February. Construction on Maryland’s largest transit project would then resume this spring, state officials said.

The soaring costs and mounting delays are hitting a project once viewed as a national model for how debt-strapped governments could partner with the private sector to build expensive infrastructure more efficiently and with fewer financial risks. The Purple Line was one of the first U.S. transit projects to rely on private financing as part of a public-private partnership.

“This is the right team and the right time,” said Maryland transit administrator Holly Arnold. “This project has been needed for such a long time. We’re going to get it across the finish line.”

Most Purple Line construction started in mid-2017. It stopped in October 2020, when the private consortium’s contractor quit after a court fight and years-long feud with the state over what the companies said were 2½ years of delays and about $850 million in cost overruns. Continue Reading

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/transportation/2022/01/12/purple-line-maryland-when-open/


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