Construction on delayed Purple Line light rail project to ramp up soon

While you might have seen crews out here and there over the summer, next month heavy construction is set to begin on the troubled Purple Line after almost two years. Hundreds of construction workers recently signed a labor agreement for the completion of the light rail job.

“You are seeing a little bit of ramp-up — still a lot of inspection and current sites getting things prepped,” said Steve Lanning, business manager of Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 11. “After Labor Day is when you really are going to start seeing the workforce grow and a lot more construction activity.”

Local 11 signed a collective bargaining agreement last week with the Purple Line’s new contractor, Maryland Transit Solutions. Negotiations have been ongoing since MTS received its budget earlier this year.

“Our members want to get back to work on this project,” Lanning told WTOP. “We had well over 200 members — up to 250 — on that project previously. And so they see this as a big project, a high-profile project, a long-term project. They’re excited to get back to work.”

Lanning said that this agreement may help prevent delays in the future due to work shortages. He pointed to a tight construction labor market and said the agreement provided above-market compensation.

“Trying to recruit or retain the best workforce, you need to provide more than competitive wages; you need to need to make the project appealing. I think this agreement certainly has done that,” said Lanning. “I don’t see an issue with us providing the qualified workforce that Maryland Transit Solutions needs to get the job done on time and on budget.

The Purple Line is already behind schedule by four years; it’s now due to welcome riders in the fall 2026. It has also added over $1 billion to its budget. The Maryland Department of Transportation said the project will cost an estimated $3.4 billion compared to the initial $2 billion. The state cited rising costs in material and labor, supply chain issues and other post-pandemic factors as reasons.

When completed, the Purple Line will cover 16.2 miles with 21 stations. It will stretch across Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, from the Bethesda Metro station to the New Carrollton Metro station, with 21 stations.

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Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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