State Transportation Secretary Orders Suspension of ‘Key’ Purple Line Work

Pete Rahn says move is necessary as it appeals judge’s ruling to study light-rail line’s ridership


Published:

A Purple Line sign on Connecticut Avenue

Andrew Metcalf

Maryland is moving to suspend “key elements” of pre-construction work on the Purple Line as it faces mounting costs and an unclear timeline to contest a judge’s order requiring examination of projected ridership on the proposed light-rail line.

State Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn ordered the state’s contractor on the project—Purple Line Transit Partners—to suspend the execution of new construction contracts and procurements for non-essential materials and equipment, and to freeze hiring of construction staff, according to a Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) news release issued Wednesday.

Rahn also asked the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) to freeze hiring of oversight staff for the project and suspend state funding for county design reviews. And he directed Purple Line officials to limit further costs on the project except for “those of agreed necessity.”

The move to suspend pre-construction activities comes after U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon on Tuesday dismissed outstanding issues in the long-running Purple Line case that have delayed construction of the light-rail ine, which was scheduled to start late last year. Leon on May 22 had ordered the Federal Transit Administration to reexamine the project’s ridership forecasts after finding that Metro’s ridership decline and safety issues could impact the project.

Leon’s May 22 ruling and his August decision to revoke federal approval of the project have prevented the state from securing the $900 million in federal funds that state officials say is needed for construction to proceed on the light-rail line that is planned to connect Bethesda with New Carrollton along an east-west route.

Rahn previously said in court filings the state would have to suspend Purple Line work on June 1 as state funds for the project were dwindling. He said in the release that Leon’s ruling this week provides a path for the state to appeal the court order. Rahn noted Maryland’s Office of the Attorney General immediately filed a notice of appeal to challenge Leon’s order, but the timeline of the appeal process is uncertain.

“With a legal path forward, MDOT’s and the Purple Line’s situation has changed from the unknown circumstances of just two weeks ago,” Rahn said. “With an unknown timeline for appeal and dwindling available cash to carry the federal reimbursable costs being expended by MDOT; and to protect the taxpayers of Maryland, I am ordering that action be taken immediately.”

Previously, Maryland officials said that paying the private contractor to conduct pre-construction work was costing the state about $13 million per month under its 36-year, $5.6 billion contract with Purple Line Transit Partners. About 200 employees of Purple Line Transit Partners have been working at an office in Riverdale and another 500 have been working on the project elsewhere, according to the team of construction and finance companies.

It’s not immediately clear how the employees working for the contractor would be impacted by the suspension of the pre-construction activities

Back to Bethesda Beat

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Articles

Judge Seeks Additional Information in Purple Line Tree Cutting Case

Removal of trees on Georgetown Branch Trail will be put on hold until Monday

Updated: Suspected MS-13 Members Accused of Murdering Silver Spring Man in Frederick County

Body found in shallow grave in June; men from Silver Spring, Greenbelt face charges, denied bail

100 New Condos Could Land on Lawn Next to Friendship Heights Office Building

Developer looks to construct 16-story condo complex but retain community green space

Jenkins, Stewart To Run for District 19 Delegate

Growing field interested in opening as Ben Kramer runs for Senate instead
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored Content

Wireless Telecommunication Community Meeting

Join Montgomery County on Monday Sept 18, 2017 in Silver Spring or Sept 19, 2017 in Germantown to discuss proposed zoning changes to address deployment of microtowers and small cell antennas.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »

3 Acres of Tranquility

Potomac, $2,250,000

Renovated Cape Cod

Bethesda, $1,295,000

Pristine Home in Merry Go Round Farm

Potomac, $3,650,000

3 Levels Of Living & Entertaining

Bethesda, $1,549,000

Exquisite Colonial

Potomac, $3,474,000
Edit Module

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading
Local Professionals

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module