The public-private partnership fueling the Purple Line light-rail project in Maryland might be reduced to just public. The private portion is showing signs of leaving, and the partnership could be all but dissolved.
The state sent out a letter to the 171 subcontractors involved in the $2 billion endeavor, stating it intends to exercise its step-in rights. Purple Line Transit Constructors, the joint venture that has been building the Purple Line, private investor Purple Line Transit Constructors, and the state have been trying to work out a cost overrun issue for weeks. The consortium wants $755 million in cost overruns as a result of 2.5 years of delays. The deadline to work out a resolution is Aug 22.
In the meantime, the builder is starting to show signs of packing up at sites located throughout the project corridor. In downtown Bethesda, a large hole that will serve as an elevator shaft was covered with a metal grate.
If the state takes over operations, it will have to find a way to structure $1 billion of debt to pay for the remaining construction. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has destroyed state budgets, finding financing could be difficult.
Purple Line Transit Partners still remains confident that an agreement will be reached. The state remains “open to a fair and reasonable settlement.”