Judge says Purple Line concessionaire is free to leave

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
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A tunnel space request for a recreational trail on the Purple Line has been denied.

A Maryland judge has sent the Purple Line Transit Partners packing, saying the concessionaire can leave the Purple Line project due to nearly $800 million in cost overruns because of delays.

The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) can still try and reach a settlement with Purple Line Transit Partners. However, after three years of negotiation efforts it seems likely the investor will move on and negate the 36-year public-private partnership.

Judge Jeffrey Geller rejected MTA’s call for a preliminary injunction. The state was hoping the project would continue until the dispute resolution process played out. Purple Line Transit Partners, however, noted that it had the right to terminate the contract after delays lasted longer than a year.

Geller said the costs the state will have to absorb if the investment group leaves are self inflicted because it refused to discuss a transition plan after the companies made their intention to quit public.

Purple Line Constructors, the builder of the Purple Line project, said it had to break the contract with the concessionaire because unpaid costs continued to climb. As a result, Purple Line Transit Partners announced its plan for departure.

The Purple Line Transit Partners said in a statement it is convinced the settlement is in the best interest of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties as well as the state because “it will deliver the Purple Line sooner and at a lower cost than any possible alternative.”

Court testimony revealed the concessionaire could be leaving the job in two to four weeks. The sites would be secured, and demolished roads would be repaved and holes would be covered.

Maryland still plans on finishing the project if the public-private contract is dissolved. Funding the project, however, will be difficult.

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