Maryland Purple Line construction (1)

USA: Maryland Department of Transportation and PPP concessionaire Purple Line Transit Partners have selected a replacement contractor to complete the stalled project to build a 26 km east–west orbital light rail line between New Carrollton and Bethesda in the suburbs of Washington DC.

Maryland Transit Solutions is a joint venture of Dragados USA and OHL USA.

Maryland Purple Line map

In 2016 the state awarded a $5·6bn 36-year concession to design, build, finance and operate the Purple Line to the PLTP joint venture of infrastructure asset manager Meridiam, the Star America subsidiary of Tikehau Capital and construction compnay Fluor.

PLTP appointed the Purple Line Transit Constructors joint venture of Fluor, The Lane Construction Co and Traylor Bros to build the line, which was originally scheduled to open in 2022. However, PLTC pulled out of the project in 2020, after disputes over land acquisition, environmental approval and design changes delayed the work by an estimated 976 days and increased the cost by $519m.

The state disputed the concessionaire’s claims, but in November 2020 agreed to pay PLTP $250m in an out of court settlement, which then saw Fluor withdrawing from the project consortium completely.

MDOT took over responsibility for the ongoing contracts while PLTP sought to appoint a new construction contractor.

Rapid procurement

PLTP said procurements of this type can typically take 18 months to two years to complete, but hopes to conclude the deal with MTS in just one year. The request for qualifications was issued in January, and attracted five responses. Three of these were shortlisted and a request for proposals was issued in March. Bids were received from MTS and a joint venture of Tutor-Perini and Lunda, while Halmar International did not submit a proposal.

Maryland Purple Line construction (2)

Work is now underway to finalise contracts with MTS and secure the required financing. This would enable MDOT to present the state’s Board of Public Works with a selected contractor, a replacement design-build contract and an amended PPP agreement, along with updated cost estimates and a timetable for completion.

Commercial and financial close is expected in February 2022, enabling full-scale construction to resume.

Maryland Purple Line construction (3)

‘In their proposal, discussions and oral presentation, MTS showed they possess all the right qualities – thorough knowledge of the project, across-the-board expertise and a demonstrated spirit of partnership – to get the job done efficiently and with excellence’, explained Jane Garvey, Chair of the PLTP board, on November 5.