Stalled MD Purple Line could face additional delays amid deforestation deadline
- Construction of Maryland's beleaguered $5.6 billion Purple Line light rail system has yet another foe — spring, according to The Washington Post
- From April 1 through September, crews are prohibited by federal law from disturbing forested areas that contain migratory bird nests. Unfortunately for Purple Line officials, who are fighting a federal judge-mandated halt to construction on the project, that leaves them only a few weeks to achieve that milestone, which doubtful even if they were not barred by the court from doing so.
- If Purple Line crews are unable to remove the necessary trees before the April 1 deadline, it would add five months to the seven months the project has already been delayed. Had a federal judge not stopped work on the light rail line in August, the trees most likely would have been cleared last fall.
All major construction on the 16-mile Purple Line project, which will run from Bethesda to Silver Spring, MD, has been halted pending a Federal Transit Administration review of the line's projected ridership.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon pulled the FTA's authorization of the project when he found the ridership portion of the Purple Line's environmental review potentially inadequate. Leon ordered the FTA to re-examine the ridership figures from the first review, re-evaluate whether the Washington Metro's declining commuter numbers would affect the Purple Line and determine whether a new review is in order.
Ralph Bennett, board president of Purple Line NOW (PLN), a group that advocates for the light rail project, told Construction Dive in October that claims for the project could cost $5 million to $10 million for each month of delays, but, according to The Post, extra construction costs could accumulate by as much as $13 million a month.
If the FTA decides that Purple Line officials must submit another review, that decision could tack at least another six months onto the project schedule — potentially putting the entire project in jeopardy.
The construction team building the project, Purple Line Transit Partners, announced in June that it had closed a deal with the MTA for the financing, design-build, operation and maintenance of the Purple Line. The state plans to contribute $3.3 billion, and Purple Line Transit Partners plans to fund $1 billion for the project, which was initially scheduled to open in 2022.
- The Washington Post Purple Line construction faces more delays as deadline approaches to clear trees
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