Maryland Federal Legislators, Activists Concerned About Purple Line Future

Maryland’s federal legislators sent a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan Oct. 28 “to express our deep concern” for the Purple Line, which incurred a huge setback last month after a court ruled that the builders were allowed to walk away due to disputes with the state and unpaid cost overruns and delays.

Also, Purple Line Now Vice President Greg Sanders expressed concern that the Maryland Department of Transportation does not have the staff to review the roughly 150 contracts it has taken over and is not keeping the public abreast of what is happening. Purple Line Now, a coalition of business, labor, environment, neighborhood and civic organizations working to have the Purple Line built, also is worried about disruption to area businesses should the Purple Line end up taking another one to two years.

“We need a detailed timeline,” said Sanders, who added that the state currently is trying to decide if it will settle with the construction companies that left the project or hire new concessionaires.

Discussions on the completion of the 16-miles light rail line that would extend from Bethesda to New Carrollton are underway.

In a statement to Montgomery Commmunity Media, Maryland Transportation Secretary Greg Slater wrote, “MDOT and MTA are currently working on a parallel track of negotiating with PLTP [Purple Line Transit Partners] and setting up a plan to deliver the project on its own. At the same time, MDOT MTA is actively working with design, construction and manufacturing contractors to keep the project moving forward. Our focus is on completing design, permitting and any unfinished work first with paving, stormwater drainage and other utility projects now underway along the Purple Line corridor.”

Slater also noted, “We remain committed to continue working with the community and local businesses to collaborate and find opportunities to minimize any impacts to the best of our ability.”

U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and Congressmen Jamie Raskin, David Trone, Steny H. Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Kweisi Mfume and Anthony Brown signed on to a letter to Hogan that pressed the Governor “to quickly resolve the project’s ongoing issues, finish construction, and provide relief to Maryland residents and communities impacted by the delays.”

“We are writing today to express our deep concern about the future of the Purple Line project,” the legislators wrote. “Now that it is clear that the Purple Line Transit Partners (PLTP) intend to leave the project and began to demobilize and secure the construction sites prior to the current forbearance agreement, our concerns about the fate of the project have grown exponentially.”

According to the legislators, that the Purple Line project has caused disruptions to the areas and businesses located near the line since its start three years ago. The current delay “will only exacerbate the burdens being experienced by both residential communities and commercial enterprises situated in close proximity to the construction sites,” it states in the letter.

The legislators expressed support for the continuation of the project, noting it will reduce traffic, help residents get to jobs and encourage development along the way. “It is imperative to find a path forward,” they state in their letter.

The project, which includes $900 million in federal funds, has been taken over by the state. Therefore, the federal politicians asked that they be told what is happening. The letter includes a list of questions on future plans and funding and whether it will continue as a public-partnership. The politicians also questioned how current events will affect costs and the completion date.

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Suzanne Pollak

About Suzanne Pollak

Suzanne is a freelance reporter with Montgomery Community Media. She has over 35 years professional experience writing for newspapers, magazines, non-profit newsletters and the web.


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