Disputes about cost overruns and other delays are getting more acrimonious between the state of Maryland and the Purple Line Transit Partners, the consortium building the light rail project between Bethesda and New Carrollton.
Tensions escalated this week after it was reported more than 700 people working on the project have been formally notified that they’ll be laid off in about two months — as project leaders said they will walk away over the issues they’re trying to renegotiate with the state.
The situation is causing growing outrage among local politicians who have been clamoring for the project for more than a decade.
Montgomery County Council members Sidney Katz, who is the body’s president this year, and Tom Hucker, who leads the Transportation and Environment Committee, called the move by PLTP “unconscionable” in a statement.
The pair said the state of Maryland “has an obligation” to make sure the project is wrapped up and they are urging Gov. Larry Hogan, the state’s department of transportation, the Maryland Transit Administration and others in the state to “explore all legal options against the Purple Line Transit Partners” if negotiations continue to grind to a stalemate.
But Katz and Tucker said the state needs to be ready to go back to other companies who lost the bid to build the project and begin negotiating with them too.
Noting that so much work has already been completed along the entire stretch of the project, “We will not allow a 14-mile construction zone to lie fallow for the foreseeable future,” the council added in its statement.
Negotiations between the state and PLTP continue on the public-private project.
Although PLTP has begun the process to walk away, it does not mean the decision is final.