Purple Line Delayed a Year, New Reports Indicate

Purple Line Delayed a Year, New Reports Indicate

Opening of rail line estimated for 2023

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Updated at 7 p.m. on Thursday: Advocates of Maryland’s Purple Line are concerned the project will be delayed by at least a year following a report that construction is well behind schedule.

The Washington Post obtained reports stating Purple Line Transit Partners has informed the state the line won’t be up and running until February 2023 at the earliest, behind the projected March 2022 opening date.

Meeting the February projection would only be possibly if work is accelerated and the project could potentially stretch until June 2024, the partners told the state in the reports.

“The Maryland Department of Transportation, Maryland Transit Administration and the Purple Line Transit Partners are still working on developing a recovery schedule to open the Purple Line for revenue service by the end of 2022,” state transportation spokesman Gary Witherspoon said in a statement. “We are currently negotiating the terms of how to accomplish a 2022 recovery schedule.”

Nonprofit group Purple Line NOW will hold a forum Thursday evening on the recent updates regarding the project. The group, in a morning statement, said officials are “dismayed at further delay risk” for the 16-mile, 21-station rail line between Bethesda and New Carrollton.

“Negotiations are still ongoing between the state and the concessionaire, so we should take all numbers from one side’s reports with a grain of salt,” Purple Line NOW President Ralph Bennett said. “However, as we warned at the time, the root cause is a frivolous lawsuit that put a hold on much of the construction activities for a year and has both schedule and cost implications.”

Montgomery County councilmember Tom Hucker said previous delays have contributed to traffic congestion in Silver Spring area, in addition to postponing a possible commute remedy.

“If it’s true it’s really unfortunate and inconvenient for so many people looking to get to work or school more quickly via the Purple Line,” Hucker said. “It has been unfairly delayed by lawsuit and by bad policy making under Gov. Erlich for many years. It’ll be a shame if the construction’s delayed any further for so many people.”

The Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail and two residents announced Thursday they filed a lawsuit in the federal district court of Maryland challenging the 2018 decision of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to permit the discharge of dredge and fill materials as part of Purple Line construction.

The lawsuit argues the permit issued is invalid and violates the Clean Water Act.

“We also point out in our lawsuit that even if some dredging and filling were necessary, the agencies also failed to evaluate, let alone choose, the least harmful of the alternatives as the law requires,” FCCT Vice President Jim Roy said.

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