Maryland's Purple Line Light Rail Project in Crisis

The design-build team hired to build the Purple Line in Maryland could walk off the job unless a deal regarding the increasing cost of the project isn't brokered by June 20.

2 minute read

June 16, 2020, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Maryland Transit Administration

Maryland Department of Transportation / Purple Line Alignment

Back in May, the design-build consortium contracted to build the Purple Line light rail line in Maryland announced that it was planning to walk off the project in a dispute with state officials over the project's ballooning costs. 

Jim Parsons reported at the time of the announcement:

Purple Line Transit Constructors (PLTP) , which includes Fluor Corp., Lane Construction Corp. and Traylor Bros. Inc, said in a May 1 statement that it has been “unable to obtain the time and cost relief to which it is entitled” from the Maryland Dept. of Transportation and the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) to address a combination of factors that added more than a year and $500 million to the 16-mile, 21-station project across northern suburbs of Washington, D.C. that will link to existing rail lines.

In June, the threat still stands, as reported in a separate article written by Katherine Shaver on June 13. According to Shaver, industry observers are tracing the Purple Line's problems with a track record of cost overruns at Fluor Corp. 

"The company’s problems include cost overruns on multiple megaprojects and a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into whether it properly accounted for $714 million in overruns and other expenses in 2019," according to Shaver. "It’s unclear whether the SEC investigation includes the Purple Line project."

The long-disputed, long-delayed, increasingly expensive Purple Line hangs in the balance. As for what comes next, Shaver reports the following:

The three sides — the state, the construction contractor, and an umbrella group of companies overseeing a 36-year public-private partnership on the project — have until June 20 to agree on who will pay for additional costs. Unless a settlement is reached, the construction team has said it will leave in 60 to 90 days.

Saturday, June 13, 2020 in The Washington Post

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