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Purple Line NOW News - July 1, 2020

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

  • Purple Line in the News
  • Greater Lyttonsville-Woodside CAT Meeting Highlights

Purple Line in the News

You may have read about the contract dispute in recent news reports (Washington Post, K. Shaver, Purple Line Consortium Will Dissolve P3 If Deal Not Reached, June 24, 2020) regarding the status of negotiations between the Concessionaire and the State of Maryland. Information on any potential resolution between Maryland and the concessionaire can be elusive and incomplete due to the nature and privacy of negotiations, but we will try to keep you posted on what we can. In the meantime, and in case you missed it, here is our official response on the passing deadline for resolution of the contract dispute:

Purple Line NOW Vice President Greg Sanders emphasized one critical constant, “The Hogan administration, the concessionaire, and key state, county, and local leaders are all agreed on their confidence in the Purple Line and of the importance of completing it in a timely manner.” The secrecy and sometimes brinkmanship involved in negotiations often mean that we only learn details in dribs and drabs, with good news reported one day and use of harder line negotiating tools the next. What is clear is that the best outcome remains a settlement with the concessionaire, but failing that, Maryland has options to ensure completion of the light rail project. Sanders added, "finding a path forward has to be the top transportation priority for the Hogan Administration, as an unnecessary delay extends the present disruption while putting off the great benefits that will come when we can all ride the Purple Line."

Purple Line NOW will continue to actively track these issues as they develop. In the meantime, President Ralph Bennett called on all parties to live up to their public statements, “The fundamental strengths of the Purple Line for providing mobility and fueling economic growth remain undiminished. We call on all parties to not be distracted by casting blame and to live up to their commitment to find a way to quickly complete construction while being good stewards of the resources provided by the people of Maryland.”

The WAMU 88.5 article, Purple Line Group Threatens To Quit, (June 24, 2020) aptly summarizes how we got here:

"Opponents of the Purple Line have filed a series of lawsuits since 2017 to kill the project, contributing to years of delays and piled on costs. The Purple Line Transit Partners group says the state is responsible for some of the delays and was slow to acquire right-of-way for the land needed for the project."

Bethesda Magazine (Purple Line Contractors File Notice of Layoffs), in an interview with Montgomery County officials and County Executive Marc Elrich, reports that Mr. Elrich does not see an alternative to a negotiated deal between the state and the concessionaire. However, Councilmember Hans Reimer was glad to see countermeasures by the state, noting that, "We need the state to pull this through and I think this consortium should recognize that if they mess this up, this is one of the most significant P3s in the country and it could have a huge impact on the P3 market in general. It’s going to be a real problem. They would be wise to compromise here.”

In the event that the deal falls through, Reimer also noted that the state could take over directly, although making up any funding gaps would have to come at the state level.

This sentiment was echoed strongly by Montgomery County Council President Sidney Katz and Transportation and Environment Chair Tom Hucker in an official statement issued on June 25:

“The State of Maryland has an obligation to work with our communities to ensure that this project is completed . . . Moreover, it would be unconscionable for the Purple Line Transit Partners to walk away from this critical project at this advanced stage.”

Councilmember Andrew Friedson effectively captures the big picture, noting that who builds it is not the important part, "[Residents] want the project built and they want the commitments that were made to be kept. We need the state to figure out how to build the Purple Line as we were promised without any further delays.”

We will let you know when we have more information available.



Greater Lyttonsville/Woodside Community Advisory Team Meeting

The Greater Lyttonsville/Woodside Community Advisory Team (CAT) presentation was posted on May 12, 2020. Presenters were Gary Witherspoon, MDOT MTA Public Outreach & Communications Deputy Project Director; Carla Julian, PLTC Sr. Manager Public Affairs/Community Outreach; and Mark Edsall, PLTC Area 1 Project Engineer.

Below are a few highlights from the presentation, but you should check out the full presentation (in both video format or slide show) on their website.

We’ll start with an artist rendering of Lyttonsville and Woodside Stations, respectively.

Photo courtesy of MTA MDOT and PLTP

According to the presentation, Lyttonsville Station, above, is a center platform station, which can be accessed from Lyttonsville Place bridge. The bridge will have commuter drop off lanes in either direction and an elevator on the bridge will connect to the platform. There is a ramp from the bridge to the Capital Crescent Trail (CCT) and the station, and the CCT will have access to the platform via crossings provided at either end of the platform.

Photo courtesy of MTA MDOT and PLTP

The 16th Street-Woodside Station, above, is how a “typical” Purple Line, side platform, station will look, with the tracks running in the middle and a platform and shelter on either side. The presenters noted that this station is in an area that will be utilized for future development.

Here are some highlights from the presentation of the work that has been completed over the past six months:

In the Rock Creek Park area, the mass excavation has been completed as has the installation of a temporary bridge across Rock Creek for access to the west slope. Construction abutments for the future light rail and CCT bridges is continuing. Below is an aerial view of construction of the abutments adjacent to Rock Creek.

Photo courtesy of MTA MDOT and PLTP

Regarding the Lyttonsville Place Bridge, the water main relocation has been completed and the installation of storm drainage systems and retaining walls is continuing. At Rosemary Hills Elementary, crews continue to relocate existing overhead utilities, as well as installing retaining walls. The have also continued the mass excavation for the new foundations for the Talbot Avenue Bridge.

Looking ahead to the next six months:

In Rock Creek Park, crews plan to complete the CCT abutment construction, install slope protection and complete in-stream work. At Lyttonsville Place Bridge, they will begin driving piles for the station (the public will be notified in advance of this activity). They will also begin foundations for the Lyttonsville Operations and Maintenance Facility (OMF) administration building.

Crews will also be installing girders for the new Talbot Avenue Bridge and hope to complete construction of the bridge, as well. Along 16th Street, water main relocation will start (at 8600 16th Street), as well as relocating water and sewer on the north side of the CSX tracks. At the Spring Street Bridge, demolition will begin of the existing bridge this fall, as well as starting the foundation work for the new bridge shortly thereafter.

Please note that Spring Street will be closing between 16th Street and 2nd Avenue this fall and expected to be closed for a maximum seven months. Here is the proposed detour route:

  • Drivers traveling north on 16th Street will continue north on 16th Street, turn right on Georgia Avenue to Spring Street.
  • Drivers traveling south on Spring Street will turn left on 2nd Avenue, right on Colesville Road, right on East-West Highway, and finally a right on 16th Street.

Photo Courtesy of MTA MDOT and PLTP

In the next edition of the Purple Line News, we’ll cover the Long Branch and University Boulevard CAT meetings. As always, we encourage you to read or watch the full presentations, especially if you live or work in the area covered.



The Next Purple Line NOW Forum: Getting Ready for the First Purple Line Ride

We are working on bringing an online webinar or presentation to you later this summer, so please stay tuned for further details and a date!

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