Md. transportation secretary doesn’t have ‘a lot of faith’ in expected 2026 completion of Purple Line

Purple Line Bridge Connecticut Avenue
Work is resuming on the 16.2 mile long Purple Line light-rail project, following a two-year pause when the original contractor backed out. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)

After a two-year pause when the original contractor backed out, work is resuming on building the 16.2-mile-long Purple Line light-rail project.

With a new contractor in place, Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld said his agency is putting the pressure on new builders, Maryland Transit Solutions, to complete the line. However, he said he doesn’t “have a lot of faith” that an October 2026 completion is possible.

“It has a ways to go. I’m not going to sugarcoat it for people; it’s just a reality,” Wiedefeld said.

The east-west line that will eventually connect New Carrollton and Bethesda, Maryland, was originally expected to be completed in March 2022; but the first contractor backed out of the project in 2020.

Currently, Wiedefeld said inspections are underway after work was essentially stopped halfway through the project. The state hasn’t received word of any major issues with what has been looked at so far, but time-consuming hurdles still remain.

“One of the biggest issues is utilities … (a) lot of them you think you know where they are, they’re not where we thought they were,” Wiedefeld said. “Some of these roads and areas are pretty old, where that stuff’s been laid.”

The secretary said the state continues to work with the University of Maryland, as well, to see if there are ways to speed up the construction of the Campus Drive station.

While supply chain issues have improved, Wiedefeld said some remain, contributing to slowdowns for the $9.3 billion project. He said he doesn’t believe the 2026 completion is years off, but Wiedefeld isn’t ready to offer a new expected completion date.

“To give specific dates at this stage is very risky,” Wiedefeld said.

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Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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