Riders looking forward to the much-anticipated Purple Line in Maryland will have to wait more than four years before the first passengers can take a ride, and it’s going to cost over $1 billion more than expected to complete.
The Maryland Department of Transportation cited the rising cost of materials, a shrinking labor force, material shortages due to supply chain challenges, increases in the insurance market and other factors post-pandemic as reasons for the delay and rise in price.
It will now cost an estimated $3.4 billion, up from $2 billion, to complete the construction, and the service opening has been pushed back from March 2022 to fall 2026. The original public-private partnership (commonly referred to as a P3) agreement in 2016 had a broader cost estimated at $5.6 billion, and with the new P3 agreement the cost has risen to $9.3 billion.
MDOT has picked Maryland Transit Solutions, or MTS, as the new team to complete the 16.2-mile, 21-station Purple Line that links Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. It will submit the selection on Jan. 26 to the Board of Public Works for approval.
MTS is a subsidiary of Dragados USA Inc. and OHL USA Inc. Full-scale construction is scheduled to start later in the spring.
“Taking the Purple Line P3 Agreement amendment to the Board of Public Works is the next step needed to move the Purple Line from construction into an active light rail line that creates a truly interconnected regional transit system,” Maryland Transit Administration’s Holly Arnold said in a statement.
The Purple Line has been beset with delays since its start. In 2016, the Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail filed a lawsuit that halted the project. More recently, one of the major contractors quit the project in 2020.
“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,” Arnold said.