Both sides of Purple Line conflict present case to judge

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
Purple Line
A tentative agreement has been reached with the firms behind the Purple Line project.
Purple Line

The dispute between the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) and the investment group of the Purple Line continues to be heard in court. Lawyers on both sides made presentations during an all-day virtual hearing with Baltimore Circuit Judge Jeffrey Geller.

Geller issued a temporary order on Aug. 10 to keep the project going until Sept. 14 while the two sides try to settle their differences.

The Purple Line Transit Partners’ plea is simple: The contract with the MTA clearly states the concessionaire can pull from the project if delays exceed 365 days. The Purple Line’s completion has been pushed back 2.5 years and the state has not paid $755 million in cost overruns.

The MTA says, per the agreement, work must continue during disputes and that an extended delay must be determined via the dispute-resolution process.

If the contract were dissolved, the MTA, which is facing a $3 billion budget shortfall over the next six years due to the coronavirus pandemic, would be forced to pull funds from other transit agencies. The state has already spent $1 billion that was set aside for Purple Line construction, and if the concessionaire abruptly left another $1 billion would be needed for completion. Additionally, $367 million in private activity bonds would have to be paid off early.

A state takeover would most likely delay Purple Line progress by at least a year, maybe two. Lawsuits have been the major cause of delays up until now, something the state claims it has no control over.

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