Firm Building Purple Line Changes CEO

Alfred Craig replaced former CEO Rob Chappell last month and is now overseeing light-rail project


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Alfred "Fred" Craig speaks to the County Council's transportation committee Thursday morning

Screenshot via County Cable Montgomery

The firm building Maryland’s $2 billion Purple Line project has changed its CEO.

Purple Line Transit Partners has hired Alfred Craig to be its CEO—a post that includes overseeing the construction of the 16.2-mile light-rail line that will run from Bethesda to New Carrollton. He’s taking over the role from former CEO Rob Chappell.

Craig is a transportation project expert who previously worked in the Washington, D.C., office of the Kansas City-based construction and engineering firm HNTB.

Purple Line Transit Partners didn’t formally announce Craig was taking over for Chappell until Thursday afternoon. The announcement was released after Craig introduced himself to the Montgomery County Council’s Transportation Committee on Thursday morning and updated council members on the progress of construction, which began last year on the light-rail line.

Purple Line Transit Partners signed a $5.6 billion contract with the state in 2016 to build, operate and maintain the light-rail system for 30 years.

Chris Doherty, a spokesman for Purple Line Transit Partners, said Thursday that Chappell left the firm in December because he needed to take care of an elderly relative in California and couldn’t also work on the East Coast. Doherty said the firm hired Craig after a nationwide search.

Charles Lattuca, who is overseeing the project for the Maryland Transit Administration, told the council committee that Craig has been working on the project for about a month.

“I’m your new CEO for the Purple Line,” Craig told the committee. “I tell people I asked for this job four times before I finally got it.”

He said he believes the project, which is a public-private partnership between Purple Line Transit Partners and the state, will be “transformational” for the area and help “connect people with jobs and development in the future.”

“I’m very proud to be here,” he said. “I’m not going to bore you with my credentials because I think that’s less important than the project.”

Craig’s LinkedIn profile notes he has previous experience as the “pursuit director” for Transdev North America in Alexandria, a transit operator that was working with a different team of companies which bid on the Purple Line contract with the state.

Prior to that he worked for more than 15 years for the multinational engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff on projects such as the Cincinnati street car line, an Ohio high-speed rail program and the Cincinnati Reds’ Great American Ball Park, according to Purple Line Transit Partners.

Craig told council members he hopes to keep the lines of communications open and will work to keep the community informed about the project.

“My job is to make sure this project gets delivered in a way that everyone was promised,” Craig said. He added that he wants to “make sure this community gets what is expected and that it’s done in a way that’s open and transparent. That’s the commitment I’m making to you this morning.”

He later said one of his top priorities will be safety.

“I intend for no one to be injured on this job,” Craig said. “It never happened in a job before in my life. I don’t want it to start now.”

Construction on the light-rail line began in September after an August groundbreaking. State officials have said the line is still scheduled to open sometime in 2022, despite delays due to a lawsuit that has since been dismissed. On Thursday, Craig said work such as tree cutting, staging equipment and erosion control continues on the project.

Once completed, the line will stretch from downtown Bethesda to New Carrollton in Prince George’s County and include 21 stations.

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