2021 | Transit

Process to find new Purple Line design-build contractor begins

Contractor expected to be chosen in mid-June

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The process of looking for a new design-build contractor for the Purple Line project has begun, as state officials look to get construction back up to full speed.

The Purple Line will be a light rail that stretches 16 miles from Bethesda to New Carrollton. It will have 21 stations.

The bulk of the construction of the line was halted after the project was entangled in a lawsuit between the state and the consortium building the line over project delays and cost overruns.

Contractors walked off the job in September after initially indicating they would abandon the project in May.

Purple Line Transit Partners (PLTP), the consortium of three companies that were building the line, reached a $250 million litigation settlement with the state in late November.

Fluor, which was in charge of the line’s construction, exited the public-private partnership (P3) project, but Meridiam and Star America will continue working with the state to complete the line.

The state split the settlement into two payments — $100 million paid by Dec. 30, 2020, and $150 million when the new financing documents are executed — either within 12 months or as soon as a new design-build contractor is secured, if that happens sooner.

In a press release sent Friday afternoon, PLTP said it, along with the state, has taken the first step in engaging a replacement contractor.

The consortium issued a request for qualifications on Friday and expects to receive statements back from potential firms in early February.

A request for proposals is expected to be issued in mid-February, followed by a selection of the new design-build contractor in mid-June.

The consortium would then work out financial terms of hiring the chosen contractor by mid-September, according to the release.

“We have an in-depth construction plan in place during this interim period, and today’s solicitation for qualified, experienced design-build firms represents another positive step in advancing this important project to completion,” Maryland Transportation Secretary Greg Slater said in the release. “Every step and investment that we make during this interim period is designed to create value on the rebid.”

Once terms are reached with the new contractor, PLTP expects to have “rapid mobilization and full-scale construction” resume, the release said.

Per the settlement agreement, PLTP is responsible for acquiring the replacement contractor for the project.

“Today marks the start of a sprint to bring on a new contractor, enabling us to swiftly resume full-scale construction and deliver the Purple Line to the people of Maryland as soon as possible,” Jane Garvey, chair of PLTP, said in the release.

Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at briana.adhikusuma@bethesdamagazine.com.