Purple Line NOW News - February 2, 2022

In today's edition of Purple Line NOW News, here's what you'll find:

  • Thank you!
  • Purple Line in the News
  • Features & Highlights
    • MDOT Urban Tree Program Grant
    • Maryland General Assembly
    • Community Advisory Teams
  • Construction News
    • Board of Public Works Approves New Builder Contract
    • Photos from Around the Corridor

Share This Newsletter

Please feel free to share this newsletter - no permission from us needed! You can always find a link to our newsletter on our Purple Line NOW website which makes it easy to share with your friends, neighbors, constituents, customers, and employees.

What' Happening

   WHAT'S HAPPENING AT PLN?

Thank You!

Again, we are so appreciative of your financial support over the past months (and years/decades!). Your donations help us: 

--continue our work advocating for the project!
--maintain our role as an answer-getter for all of your questions!
--bring important project information to our community and beyond!

We use every donation we receive to continue our newsletter, continue offering regular webinars, continue being a strong liaison to help connect you to people who can solve your issues, and continue our strong advocacy for the project in every way possible. If you would like to know more about who we are, why we are asking for donations, and what we do with your gift once it arrives on our doorstep, you can read all about it in our November newsletter.

Although the matching campaign has ended, we are grateful for every donation we receive, so if you didn't have a chance to donate before the end of the year and would like to do so now, just click the purple button above. Unless you tell us otherwise, your name will be listed on our website and in publications for a year following your donation.

Gratefully,
Christine Scott, Executive Director

PL in the News

   THE PURPLE LINE IN THE NEWS

Shaver, K. “Maryland board approves $3.4 billion contract.” Washington Post, 26 January 2022.

Features and Highlights

   FEATURES & HIGHLIGHTS

MDOT Urban Tree Program Grant

The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Maryland Urban and Community Forest Committee (MUCFC) has opened the application period for the Urban Tree Grant Program. Please see the link for more information about this program. Some guidelines:

  • Communities are eligible that have been impacted by any state transportation project, not just the Purple Line.
  • Individuals cannot apply for the program exclusively, the application must be sponsored by the county’s Forestry Board. Contact the local Forestry Board office for assistance here: http://www.marylandforestryboards.org/chairs.cfm
  • Applications must meet the requirements provided in the attachments and be submitted by February 15, 2022.
  • Purple Line is not associated with the applications nor the selection process for the trees. The exact location of the tree plantings on properties might be limited by Purple Line construction/future placement of infrastructure.

Maryland General Assembly

Just a note that Maryland General Assembly has opened for the season. Purple Line NOW is tracking Purple Line relevant bills such as the SAFE Roads Act and the like. We'll send out related information and action alerts as they arise.

2022 Community Advisory Teams

We do not have the dates for the 2022 Community Advisory Teams (CATs) yet, but understand they will be happening sometime later this year after the new builder is on board. As soon as we know, we'll publish those dates in this newsletter.

Construction Updates

   CONSTRUCTION UPDATES

Board of Public Works Approves New Builder Contract

One week ago, Maryland’s Board of Public Works -- comprised of Governor Larry Hogan, Treasurer Dereck E. Davis, and Comptroller Peter Franchot – approved the $3.4 billion contract for the Purple Line’s new builder, Maryland Transit Solutions (MTS). The company, which is comprised of the U.S. subsidiaries Dragados USA, Inc. (Dragados) and OHLA Group, Inc. (OHLA), had the strongest technical proposal and the lowest price of the two finalists competing for the contract.

The additional $1.46 billion in increased costs are the result of higher insurance rates, significant labor shortages, and a challenged supply chain.

According to the Washington Post, the board also approved “$15 million for a state consultant to oversee the construction’s technical details and another $15.4 million for five contracts to complete work the state began managing after the previous contractor left. That includes moving utility lines and building storm water drainage systems. That work will be done outside the new construction contract and was not included in the $3.4 billion, state officials said.” (Shaver, K. “Maryland board approves $3.4 billion contract.” Washington Post, 26 January 2022.)

A new schedule was also presented, with full scale construction resuming this spring. MDOT MTA will continue helping with aspects of construction during the ramp-up. The Light Rail Vehicles are set to arrive in fall of 2023. Vehicle testing will begin in the summer of 2024 and progress to system-wide testing by the end of 2025. Finally, revenue service (passenger service) will begin in the fall of 2026. Note that with this new contract, service along the entire route will open simultaneously, rather than the phased-in approach previously planned.

The good news is that the increase in construction costs will not affect the cost of a ride on the Purple Line, which will be priced on par with other local transit systems. In addition, the choice to purchase two additional light rail vehicles as part of the contract is a promising sign that Maryland was keeping the quality of the service in mind as part of negotiations.

We are happy to see the past two years of uncertainty behind us and looking forward to seeing full construction beginning robustly in just a few short months!

Photos from Around the Corridor

The following photos are courtesy of MDOT MTA. Thank you to the hard working Purple Line crews!


Stay Connected

   STAY CONNECTED

Get Connected

Make sure you are signed up for timely alerts from Purple Line NOW via our Twitter and Facebook pages, and at our website Purple Line NOW.

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Purple Line NOW Extra News!

Two items that may be of interest:

Board of Public Works

We mentioned in Wednesday's newsletter that the contract for the new builder was to go before the Board of Public Works at the January 26 meeting for approval by Maryland’s governor, treasurer, and comptroller. We can now confirm that the Purple Line is indeed on the agenda and you can listen to the proceedings here if interested. We will bring details regarding the outcome of the meeting in our next newsletter.

Purple Line NOW to Support Traffic Safety Legislation

We also wanted to let you know about an endorsement Purple Line NOW has agreed to regarding a pedestrian safety measure that relates to trail safety.

From time to time, Purple Line NOW is asked to support a bill or an initiative that is Purple Line adjacent in concept (or sometimes, in proximity!) While many of us acting as individuals (not on behalf of Purple Line NOW) who live and work along the Purple Line corridor, support many such initiatives, we cannot formally, as an organization, support all of them. Most of the time, it is due to the initiative or bill being outside of our mission’s scope, or sometimes because other organizations are already pushing the measure. Before we agree to support such an endeavor, we ask for input from our Board of Directors, most specifically, our Executive Committee (the group of volunteers who drive our Purple Line NOW train!)

One such initiative came to our attention last week, and we agreed that the measure under consideration dovetailed with PLN’s mission of ensuring a safe trail for all of us to use. We have agreed to support life-saving traffic safety legislation which is currently being considered during the Maryland GA session.

What is the problem?

The number of traffic-related pedestrian deaths is growing each year in Maryland, despite the efforts of State Highway Administration traffic engineers. In fact, traffic fatalities have been growing since 2008, particularly for pedestrians. The situation worsened in 2020, despite fewer cars on the road due to Covid-19 restrictions, pedestrian and cyclist deaths continued to climb. Last year alone, 130 Marylanders lost their lives while attempting to cross our streets, with an additional 3,022 pedestrian involved in accidents that caused injury or property damage.

What actions are being considered?

Enact legislation to provide Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) the tools and resources it needs to identify, assess, and systematically address specific and regional traffic threats. The following two bills are being considered to change the status quo of traffic fatalities:

Purple Line NOW has agreed to send an endorsement for these two proposed pieces of legislation. We will let you know the outcome in a future newsletter.


Purple Line NOW News - January 19, 2022

In today's edition of Purple Line NOW News, here's what you'll find:

  • A Great BIG Thank You to YOU!
  • Purple Line in the News
  • Features & Highlights
    • Board of Public Works -- New Builder Contract
    • Maryland General Assembly
    • Community Advisory Teams
  • Construction News
    • New Builder Contract Slates Purple Line to Open Fall 2026
    • Photos from Around the Corridor

Share This Newsletter

Please feel free to share this newsletter - no permission from us needed! You can always find a link to our newsletter on our Purple Line NOW website which makes it easy to share with your friends, neighbors, constituents, customers, and employees.

What' Happening

   WHAT'S HAPPENING AT PLN?

Appreciative – Thankful – Grateful

We wish we could think of more words to convey how appreciative we are for your financial support over the past few months (and for many of you, years!) as we embarked on and completed a successful matching campaign. Even now, after the campaign has ended, we continue to receive donations from you, our supporters. Thank you, thank you, thank you --

--for allowing us to continue our work advocating for the project!
--for helping us maintain our role as an answer-getter for all of your questions!
--And, most importantly, for helping us bring important project information to our community and beyond!

We are GRATEFUL.

To the anonymous donor who matched every single donation we received from the start of the campaign until the end of the year -- your kindness in helping us garner more financial support in a tough year is beyond generous. 

We use every donation we receive to continue our newsletter, continue offering regular webinars, continue being a strong liaison to help connect you to people who can solve your issues, and continue our strong advocacy for the project in every way possible. If you would like to know more about who we are, why we are asking for donations, and what we do with your gift once it arrives on our doorstep, you can read all about it in our November newsletter.

(Although the matching campaign has ended, we are grateful for every donation we receive, so if you didn't have a chance to donate before the end of the year and would like to do so now, just click the purple button below. Unless you tell us otherwise, your name will be listed on our website and in publications for a year following your donation.)

Thank you to the following donors who have given to Purple Line NOW over the past twelve months – it is because of their financial support that we continue our work with an eye on that first train leaving the station in just a few years!

Featured Donors

The Chevy Chase Land Company

The Malloy and Sanders Family


Supporting Donors

Elizabeth Barbehenn

Jonathan Elkind

Neil Greene

John Robinson

Tina, Don, and Jessie Slater

Eric Talbot


Engineers

Anne Ambler and John Fay

Brian and Bee Ditzler

Chris Gillis

Ben Ross

Nancy and Rob Soreng


Conductors

Benjamin Englert

Todd Johnson

Jodie Kulpa-Eddy

Mary Lanigan

Christine Scott and JohnR Llewellyn

Cindy Snow

Dr. Kawsar Talaat and Dr. Troy Jacobs

College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn


Commuters

Bruce Adams, Charles Bell, Ralph Bennett, Glen Bottoms, Marney Bruce, Cathy Carr, John Carroll, Margaret Chasson, Michael DeLong, Sean Dobson, David Eagles, Gary Fahle, Jose Galdamez, Peter Gray, Margaret and Tom Greene, Ginanne Italiano, Kevin Kirby, Landmark Realty, Daniel Marcin, Mark Mesiti-Miller, Anita Morrison, David Murnan, Nathalie Peter, Tom Quinn, Andy Slettebak, William Strang, Ralph Watkins, Carol Whitley


Passengers

Tsedal Bahta, Philip Bogdonoff, Casey Brennan,  Steve Brigham, Kris Colby, Robert Devine, Patrick Dougherty, Elaine Emling, Joseph Fainberg, Nick Finio, Hugo Guzman, Patricia Jackman, Alan Lauer, Judith Morenoff, Rodolfo Perez, Tom Pogue, Mark Posner, Martin Posthumus, Annie Tulkin, Jerry Withers, Linda Zebooker, Marla Zipin

Gratefully,
Christine Scott, Executive Director
PL in the News

   THE PURPLE LINE IN THE NEWS

Shaver, Katherine. “Purple Line Will Open Late.” Washington Post, 12 January 2021.

Features and Highlights

   FEATURES & HIGHLIGHTS

Board of Public Works

The contract for the new builder will go to the Board of Public Works at the January 26 meeting for approval by Maryland’s governor, treasurer, and comptroller. Stay tuned!

Maryland General Assembly

Just a note that Maryland General Assembly has opened for the season. Purple Line NOW is tracking Purple Line relevant bills such as the SAFE Roads Act and the like. We'll send out related information and action alerts as they arise.

2022 Community Advisory Teams

We do not have the dates for the 2022 Community Advisory Teams (CATs) yet, but understand they will be happening sometime later this year after the new builder is on board. As soon as we know, we'll publish those dates in this newsletter.

Construction Updates

   CONSTRUCTION UPDATES

New Builder Contract Slates Purple Line to Open Fall 2026

As you may have read in our Breaking News blast last week, we have a tentative opening date for the project, now that new builder has been selected, Maryland Transit Solutions, made up of the U.S. subsidiaries Dragados USA, Inc. (Dragados) and OHLA Group, Inc. (OHLA).

Maryland announced the new schedule -- opening day is to come in late 2026. (Shaver, K. “Purple Line Will Open Late. Washington Post, 12 January 2021.) The new opening timeframe would be the date in which the entire line is set to open. As part of the competitive process for attracting a new builder, Maryland moved away from the plan to open the project in stages.

The cost of construction increases by $1.4 billion, bringing the total cost, including 30 years of operations, from $5.6 to $9.3 billion. The new contract will go to the Board of Public Works at the January 26 meeting for approval by Maryland’s governor, treasurer, and comptroller.

In the State’s transportation road show late last fall, Secretary Slater reported that pandemic disruptions, including material costs and supply chain challenges, as well as labor pool shortages have contributed to both cost and time increases.

You’ll remember that Maryland used the downtime while searching for a new builder to take over the 150 contracts and has made significant progress, according to the State’s year end compilation, utility relocations are now 66 percent complete and design is 95 percent complete. As we said in the press release, “A frivolous lawsuit cost the state precious time and by directly causing nearly a year of delay, managed to seed conflict and cost Maryland leverage in the original agreement. Vitally, the last of the suits have been dismissed and the higher courts have been consistent in finding them without merit.”

As part of this new contract, Maryland is buying additional light rail trains. This was always planned, but with huge progress completed on the initial set of light rail cars, this was an opportunity to reduce headways at rush hour from the initial time of 7.5 minutes. This is one of the most important factors for the quality of transit and a practical demonstration that Maryland was looking for best value when bringing on a new builder.

It will have been some 40 years from the initial idea of a trolley on the Georgetown Branch to the complete on the Purple Line, and it could have been completed much more cheaply without a series of unnecessary delays. However, what matters now is ending the disruption and gaining the benefits of the line, and that end is now in sight!

Photos from Around the Corridor

The first two photos come to us from reader Gary Fahle who shot the photos from the west side of the future Sleaford Road Overpass. If you'd like to submit your Purple Line photos, send them to [email protected]

The following photos are courtesy of MDOT MTA:

 

Stay Connected

   STAY CONNECTED

Get Connected

Make sure you are signed up for timely alerts from Purple Line NOW via our Twitter and Facebook pages, and at our website Purple Line NOW.

Facebook Twitter

New Builder Contract Slates Purple Line to Open Fall 2026

Since the departure of the previous builder, one of the most persistent and critical questions from the public has been when the Purple Line will open. Maryland Transit Administration was not comfortable providing estimates until a new builder was selected as that would be part of the competition and negotiation. In November, we learned that the new builder would be Maryland Transit Solutions, made up of the U.S. subsidiaries Dragados USA, Inc. (Dragados) and OHLA Group, Inc. (OHLA).

Yesterday, Maryland announced the new schedule -- opening day is to come in late 2026 (Shaver, K. “Purple Line Will Open Late.” Washington Post, 12 January 2021.) The new opening timeframe would be the date in which the entire line is set to open. As part of the competitive process for attracting a new builder, Maryland moved away from the plan to open the project in stages.

The cost of construction increases by $1.4 billion, bringing the total cost, including 30 years of operations, from $5.6 to $9.3 billion. The new contract will go to the Board of Public Works at the January 26 meeting for approval by Maryland’s governor, treasurer, and comptroller.

Purple Line NOW Board President Ralph Bennett reacted to the news by saying, “The delay that has resulted in pushing the project to 2026 along with the cost increases are a huge disappointment, but one influenced by economy-wide conditions.” In their transportation road show late last fall, Secretary Slater reported that pandemic disruptions, including material costs and supply chain challenges, as well as labor pool shortages have contributed to both cost and time increases.

Bennett emphasized that the fundamental strengths of the line remain. “It is filling the missing east-west connection that brings together four Metro branches and three MARC lines from Bethesda to New Carrollton. Its role as a jobs line, bringing an estimated $2.2 billion in annual growth to our region can be seen in developments occurring and planned throughout the corridor. The Purple Line will help address the mounting cost of transit-accessible housing, and its environmental benefits in taking 17,000 cars off the road have only grown more urgent. Finally, it will complete the Capital Crescent Trail extension between Bethesda and Silver Spring.”

Local officials noted the pain of the delay, but pointed to the criticality of completing the project to attain the benefits and end the disruption. This sentiment was echoed by Purple Line NOW Vice President Greg Sanders, “I think it’s safe to say Maryland wants more certainty and they are willing to pay a premium to get it.” Addressing the cost increases, Sanders continued, “The numbers are bigger than we’d like and it’s later than we’d like, but the key thing is getting to that opening day.”

Critically, as Maryland officials explained, key risks and sources of conflict are now behind the project. There were four causes of the delays that the builder raised in the $850 million dispute with Maryland: the costs added by the lawsuit inflicted delay, the pace of property acquisition, the freight company CSX demanding a separation wall for a portion of the right of way, and environmental permits.  MDOT MTA Purple Line Project Manager Matthew Pollack told reporters that the State has resolved the design of the wall, has the permits in hand, and full “legal control” of all the needed properties.

In a recap of the status of the project earlier this week, Mr. Sanders cited the massive task of relocating utilities as another regular source of problems for infrastructure projects. Maryland used the downtime while searching for a new builder to take over the 150 contracts and has made significant progress, according to the State’s year end compilation, utility relocations are now 66 percent complete and design is 95 percent complete. Finally, Sanders notes, “A frivolous lawsuit cost the state precious time and by directly causing nearly a year of delay, managed to seed conflict and cost Maryland leverage in the original agreement. Vitally, the last of the suits have been dismissed and the higher courts have been consistent in finding them without merit.”

Purple Line NOW Treasurer Tina Slater noted one piece of good news that emerged last fall at the Maryland Transportation Roadshow,  “As part of this new contract, Maryland is buying additional light rail trains. This was always planned, but with huge progress completed on the initial set of light rail cars, this was an opportunity to reduce headways at rush hour from the initial time of 7.5 minutes. This is one of the most important factors for the quality of transit and a practical demonstration that Maryland was looking for best value when bringing on a new builder. It will have been some 40 years from the initial idea of a trolley on the Georgetown Branch to the complete on the Purple Line, and it could have been completed much more cheaply without a series of unnecessary delays. However, what matters now is ending the disruption and gaining the benefits of the line, and that end is now in sight.”



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