Last month, builders of the Purple Line project in Maryland threatened to walk off the job due to delays and cost overruns. One particular builder’s treading may have been wearing a little thin long before the announced bailout.
Fluor, one of the three contractors on the project, has experienced cost overruns on several other projects. A Securities and Exchange Commission investigation is looking to see if Fluor properly accounted for $714 million in overruns and other expenses in 2019. Fluor recorded expenses on the Purple Line. The company also announced that due to the economy and the coronavirus pandemic it would be suspending paying dividends related to its stock.
Purple Line Transit Constructors, which consists of Fluor, Lane Construction Corp., and Traylor Brothers, is in ongoing negotiations with Maryland transportation officials. The deadline for an agreement is this Saturday, June 20, and if a deal cannot be struck the joint venture will leave in 60 to 90 days.
A settlement may require everyone involved to pay more in additional expenses at a time when it appears Fluor cannot handle more debt. As of May 1, cost overruns on the project sat at about $519 million. The Maryland Transit Administration has given the contractor another five months of construction time to make up for initial delays, but the state is refusing to pay more.
Purple Line Transit Partners, the private investor portion of the public-private partnership, has not yet announced it is seeking another building partner, a sign that negotiations may be moving in a positive direction.