Purple Line project delays, cost overruns reveal long-brewing problems
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/t ... story.html
July 18, 2020 at 8:00 AM EDT
Nearly halfway through construction, Maryland’s $2 billion Purple Line project has teetered on the verge of collapse since May.
Unless an agreement on who will pay $755 million in cost overruns is reached with the state by Aug. 22, both the construction contractor and the consortium of companies managing the 16-mile light-rail project have said they will quit.
The walk-offs threatened this spring might seem sudden, but problems on Maryland’s largest transportation project have been brewing since before the contract was signed in 2016.
Maryland officials signed the 36-year partnership with the companies even as an environmental lawsuit filed by opponents loomed. A judge’s ruling in the case ended up pushing back construction by almost a year, putting it behind schedule before the first bulldozers revved up.
The Purple Line was initially scheduled to begin carrying passengers in March 2022. However, the contractor has said that, because of the lawsuit and other delays, that won’t happen until late 2024, unless work is accelerated.
Moreover, project watchers say, a remarkably low-bid construction contract chosen amid state cost pressures might have left the Purple Line more vulnerable to escalating prices.