- Purple Line Transit Partners (PLTP), the Fluor-led joint venture that won the $5.6 billion, 16.2-mile Purple Line light rail extension project in Maryland, has started pre-construction work, The Washington Post reported. .
- As part of the JV’s "limited notice to proceed," Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) officials said that PLTP would likely finish $12 million of remaining design work, soil borings and surveys.
- The MTA said it will give PLTP a comprehensive notice to proceed once it executes a $900 million funding deal with the Federal Transit Administration in July.
Project officials said utility work should begin in Prince George’s County in November or December and subsequent rail construction in spring 2017. MTA representatives said the rail line will not open in phases but rather all at once in 2022. The Purple Line is one of the biggest public-private partnerships (P3s) in the country and is only the second to include a private financing component. State officials said the P3 would last 36 years, 30 of which will encompass the maintenance period.
Earlier this month, the Maryland Board of Public Works unanimously approved PLTP’s public-private partnership contract. The state will kick in $3.3 billion; the private companies in the P3 will finance $1 billion in exchange for a yearly maintenance fee — $149 million annually — and local counties and the federal government will fund the balance.
The project seems to be sailing through approvals, even though a legislative examination discovered $650 million in unanticipated construction costs that will have to be added to the total price tag. According to the state analysis, the current estimated construction figures did not cover almost $200 million in planning costs already spent by the state or $450 million for right of ways expenses and construction oversight.
The Purple Line made it through the approval process just before the Maryland Assembly voted to subject all new public projects to a scoring process. Currently, it’s up to Gov. Larry Hogan to select which projects get the green light. However, the General Assembly recently passed a bill that would require him to begin prioritizing pending projects according to weighted criteria. The governor would be under no obligation to choose the top-rated projects, and he is even allowed to weight each scored item as he sees fits. Hogan vetoed the bill, but the assembly voted to override the veto.