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Purple Line NOW News - July 14, 2021

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

  • What's Happening at PLN?
  • Purple Line in the News
  • Features & Highlights
  • Construction News
    • Greater Lyttonsvlle/Woodside Community Advisory Team
    • Photos Around the Purple Line Corridor

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What' Happening


Please Help Us Continue Our Work

We appreciate your consideration of a donation to Purple Line NOW which will help us continue to offer events like the webinar we hosted last month throughout the year, free of charge to all participants as well as this information-packed newsletter. We do not host special event fundraisers, nor do we receive underwriting grants from any source, government (local or otherwise), nor are we a membership organization (we do not ask for annual dues). We rely solely on support from donors like YOU!

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As always, a great big thank you to ALL OF OUR DONORS! We simply could not do our work without your support. If you don't see your name on our website link, you can donate by clicking the purple button below. 

Thank you, thank you! Especially after the year from which we are all slowly emerging, a great big THANK YOU!


PL in the News


Why does it cost so much to build things in America? (J. Demsas, June 28, 2021, VOX)

Features and Highlights


A Fond Farewell to Reemberto Rodriguez

Purple Line NOW wishes all the best to Reemberto Rodriguez on his retirement earlier this month from his position as Silver Spring Regional Director. Reemberto has been a terrific advocate for the project throughout his tenure, as well as for the many businesses along the corridor. A warm thank you for his years of service to our community. We wish him well on his next adventure! A little more about Reemberto can be found here.

An Analysis of Transportation Costs

In this article, Vox has an analysis of transportation costs, not just for transit, but also for other forms of infrastructure. Explanations include insufficient experience, cumbersome processes, jurisdictional disputes, and a need to invest in staffing. One other cause covered in the article, and one that we are all too familiar with, was the way a small group of opponents were able to delay the Purple Line. The article concludes by looking at some steps that could be taken to address this challenge, with the first step being more data.

What Would You Like to See At the Next Purple Line NOW Forum?

We are beginning to think about the next Purple Line NOW forum, set to occur sometime this fall. What would you like to know more about? General updates? Specific focus areas? Campus and the Purple Line highlights? Send your ideas to [email protected] and we'll try to make it happen! 

Construction Updates


Community Advisory Team Meeting Highlights

In this edition of Purple Line NOW News, we bring you a brief overview of the final Community Advisory Team meeting for Spring/Summer 2021, this one focusing on Greater Lyttonsville/Woodside. We have also included some of the questions and answers provided during the presentations, but to watch the full presentation, including all of the questions submitted in advance, we encourage you to visit the MDOT MTA website.

Matthew Pollack, Executive Director, Transit Development and Delivery, Vernon G. Hartsock, Project Director, Anita Rodgers, Acting Deputy Project Director, Contracting Officer, and Gary Witherspoon, Deputy Project Director Public Outreach & Communications hosted the following CAT meeting.

First, a bit of an update on the full project from the leadership team:

The Settlement agreement was approved by the Board of Public Works and has started the procurement process to re-solicit the project for a new design-build contractor.

MDOT MTA (jointly with PLTP) will have final approval over selected replacement design-build contractor. As you know, MDOT MTA took over the large number of contracts when the former builder left the project, and since then, MDOT MTA has continued to manage those contracts and advance construction during this interim period.

The team gave us an estimated timeframe for the procurement process:

  • January 8, 2021: Issued Request for Qualifications
  • February 18, 2021: Received Statements of Qualifications
  • March 3, 2021: Short-List Teams
  • March 8, 2021: Issued Request for Proposals
  • Summer 2021: Select Contracto
  • Fall 2021: Board of Public Works Review/Approval

The following three companies comprise the short list of those being considered:

  • Halmar International
  • Maryland Transit Solutions (made up of Dragados USA Inc. and OHL USA Inc.)
  • Tutor-Perini/Lunda, a joint venture

As we have mentioned in previous editions, the potential companies have been given 60 days of extra time to complete their research and price out the work to be done in a “thoughtful and competent manner,” said Gary Witherspoon. Once selected, the decision will go back to the Board of Public Works for approval this fall.

We know some of you have a keen interest in the progress of the vehicle production and we received an update on those, too.

Did you know that these particular light rail vehicles are some of the longest in North America? They are 140 feet long and are built in segments, called “car shells,” according to Vernon Hartsock. The car shells are fabricated and painted in Spain and then shipped to Elmira, New York.

MDOT MTA has been working directly with CAF to progress production of vehicles. So far, all 130 car shells have been fabricated, 94 car shells have been painted, 82 are in Elmira, NY for assembly, five are in transit from Spain to Elmira, and seven are awaiting shipment from Spain to Elmira.

MDOT MTA recently established a Business Engagement Team in the Purple Line project management office to foster relationships with those businesses along the alignment that may be impacted. The team consists of:

Lesli Leath, Business Relationship Manager, [email protected], 1-240-695-9269

Minh Diep, Business Engagement Officer for Montgomery County, [email protected], 1-551-206-5889

Marlene Veras, Business Engagement Officer for Prince George’s County, [email protected], 1-443-802-1608

Lastly, a reminder of the Construction Schedule:

  • Typical day shift: 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Typical night shift: 7 p.m. – 4:30 a.m.
  • Make-up/maintenance day will be Saturdays

Greater Lyttonsville/Woodside Community Advisory Team Meeting

The Community Advisory Team (CAT) meeting was held on June 29, 2021. Stations in this segment include Lyttonsville and 16th Street/Woodside.

As we have mentioned before, the primary focus has been on underground utility relocations. Vernon Hartsock said that, “in any project this size, the first order of business is always utility relocation.” In this case, the construction team is having to bury significant infrastructure in ground (and overhead) and that infrastructure includes drainage systems, railroad ties, catenary systems and poles, along with all of the communication cables. So far, about 5% of the relocations are complete along this segment.

In the past six months, crews have completed the Rock Creek pedestrian bridge substructure.

Rock Creek Concrete Placement for New Pedestrian Bridge

They have also constructed a retaining wall at the Falkland Apartments and restored the parking lot, returning it to residents for their use. The team also began tree clearing last month between 16th Street and Spring Street, adjacent to CSX tracks. Hartsock explained that the tree clearing is to make room for water and sewer relocation. This will also be the area where the future CCT will be located.

In the next six months, to get as much of these utility relocations done before the new design build company is hired, crews will continue their work in the following areas:

• The water line along 3rd Avenue/Ballard Street, Bradford Place, and 16th Street.
• Sewer at Spring Center and 3rd Avenue/Ballard Street.

This sewer work is time sensitive as it is going under the WMATA/CSX tracks, so crews have to be “efficient about accomplishing their work quickly.” Hartsock noted that the work will occur 24/7 for approximately a week. They will complete the Pepco overhead crossing at Talbot Avenue and continue the tree clearing cited above. They expect the clearing should be finished sometime this month. Crews will also be removing the graffiti on Lyttonsville Place Bridge by the end of summer. 

There were a few questions submitted in advance, but we will alert you when the full Q&A is available to the public.

Delegate Solomon asked the team to address the timing of the Talbot Avenue Bridge opening.

During this interim construction period, the state committed to minimizing the impacts of other projects in the state, which requires the team to remain laser focused on moving forward the construction plan to facilitate reducing the overall risk profile of the project. Matt Pollack said, “This is why you see us focusing on utility construction permitting and relocations, while other construction items, such as the Talbot Avenue Bridge, have been deferred for completion by the new design builder.” When the new design builder is hired and approved, they will get the full construction schedule.

Delegate Solomon also asked about the completion of the Lyttonsville Place Bridge, which is functional, but not completed. He noted that there remains issues with transition points, sidewalks, etc. and asked for an update on when the finishing touches would be done?

Kevin Oberheim: “We have reached a resolution on work that needs to be done.” During this interim period, crews will be removing graffiti and recoating the substructure, but Oberheim said that other work that still needs to be completed, including the interface with the elevator, will be finalized and passed on to the new design builder.

When will the CCT open?
When will the Talbot Avenue Bridge be completed?
What is the anticipated completion date of the project?

Until the new design builder is hired, they cannot give a date for any of the above. Once the new team is selected and approved by MDOT MTA, it will go to the Board of Public Works with “high level schedule” information and updated costs, sometime this fall. At that point, it will include the date for commencement of revenue services (opening day!) Once the design build contractor is brought under contract, they will be responsible for putting together a detailed construction schedule with projected finish dates for individual items like the bridge and the trail. We will then be able to see the detailed schedule and the completion dates for all the work in the sequence.

Photos from Around the Corridor

Purple Line NOW would like to take a moment to thank the hardworking Purple Line crews for their diligent and careful work during these hot summer months!


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