Maryland

Purple Line Project at Standstill After Contractor Dispute

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A dark cloud is now hanging over the massive Purple Line project in Maryland after a judge ruled the contractor for the project could walk off the job over cost disputes.

Construction on the light rail line is now going to have to take a major break, and local leaders expressed their concerns to state transportation officials Tuesday about how the project will move forward.

"This is a punch in the gut, maybe even a low blow,” Montgomery County Council member Gabriel Albornoz said.

A judge ruled contractors for the project can walk off the job over a cost dispute. Transportation Reporter Adam Tuss reports.

The entire Montgomery County Council had the opportunity to ask state and Purple Line leaders about the future of the project during a virtual meeting Tuesday.

Everyone associated with the Purple Line ensured leaders that the project would be completed — eventually. They did caution, however, that this setback is going to take time to resolve. It could be four to six months before a path to move forward is even laid out, officials said.

Albornoz called on Gov. Larry Hogan himself to lay out a plan for completion.

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"It’s critical for the governor to make that same statement. There are organizations and communities who have been opposed to this project who smell blood in the water and are hoping that this will fall through,” he said.

State leaders tried to reassure the council by telling them that other local contractors have already reached out expressing interest to finish the project.

The Purple Line is a project known as a public private partnership, or P3, in which the private company is essentially expected to build, maintain and operate the rail line.

That private company is likely walking away now.

The P3 plan is how the state wants to also put toll lanes along I-270 and the Beltway.

"We are concerned about the whole P3 situation for 270 and 495. … So, please keep that in mind as well,” Montgomery County Council member Sidney Katz said.

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