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Purple Line NOW News - October 28, 2020

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

  • Next Community Advisory Team Meetings Set
  • Please Give! 
  • Status Update on the Purple Line Project



Community Advisory Team Fall Meeting Schedule

The fall meeting schedule has been set for members of the Community Advisory Teams:

  • November 5, Lyttonsville, 6:30 pm
  • November 10, College Park, 6:30 pm
  • November 17, Silver Spring, 6:30 pm
  • December 1, University Boulevard, 6:30 pm
  • December 8, Bethesda, 6:30 pm
  • December 15, Riverdale Park/Glenridge/New Carrollton, 6:30 pm
  • December 17, Long Branch, 6:30 pm

Please Help Us Continue Our Work!

You'll be receiving an email in the next few weeks asking you to consider giving to Purple Line NOW (or renewing your annual contribution). As you know, we don't hold fundraisers, but instead rely on contributions from individuals and businesses to help us bring you information about the project via our newsletter and public fora, which are always free to the public. We attend meetings, like the one you'll read about below, and stay on top of as much construction news as we can to bring you the latest as the project chugs along toward completion.

We hope you will consider supporting Purple Line NOW at whatever level you are most comfortable - all donations are very much appreciated! The black DONATE button below will take you directly to our donation page. 

We will publicize your name (or your organization’s name) on our website and at our events as a way of thanking you and letting the community know how much you care about seeing this project finally become a reality. We appreciate all donations, small or large. Thank you, thank you!





Status Update on the Purple Line

Purple Line NOW attended a discussion on the Purple Line project with Maryland's Department of Transportion, hosted by Senator William Smith, Delegate Lorig Charkoudian, Delegate David Moon, and Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins last Thursday evening. Matt Pollack (Executive Director at Maryland Transit Administration), Vernon Hartsock (Acting Project Director for the Purple Line), and Gary Witherspoon (Purple Line Deputy Project Director) provided a status update on the project as of October 22, 2020.

As MTA moved into the state-managed construction phase, Director Pollack announced that the state does not intend to run the project, but rather will be looking for a new concessionaire in the months ahead to continue the work left on the project.

As of today, the state has taken over around 150 contracts. “The project is now the state’s alignment…the keys have essentially been handed over and the state is now in control of the ROW. As much as the design builder wanted to leave, we wanted to continue. Other than the design builder, everyone else wanted to keep working,” Pollack said.

Mr. Pollack reiterated the state’s commitment to finishing the project, which is always good news to hear. He did mention that the state is still hopeful that negotiations with the current concessionaire (PLTP) can be resolved, even though that will mean a new builder will be hired.

Since the concessionaire ended construction work, the state and PLTP have been working to make sure that sites are safely buttoned up, that all materials and documentation are transferred in an orderly fashion, and that everything gets accounted for as they assume the care, custody, and control of the project. Mr. Pollack said that demobilizing from an active project is “not clean, not pretty,” but they have been maintaining daily transition meetings and focusing on the preservation (security) and protection (safe to go on haitius) of each work site.

Vernon Hartsock went over the short-term and long-term plans as they pertain to the schedule. They are assessing what work can go forward as they search for a new concessionaire and what work must be closed for a new builder to complete. They each emphasized the need to continue certain aspects of the project during this transition time, things like utility relocations and other work, so that the new concessionaire can be given a “clean sheet” from which to begin their work with many of the hurdles already resolved.

For those concerned about losing the character of the project, the civil engineering (e.g. trackbeds, stations, physical infrastructure) is 97% done. The systems, the technology, the power, are about 65% completed. They have the designer of record, Atkins, working for them under direct contract.

Production of the rail cars is in full force with two out of the 26 almost fully done and in testing phase. Mr. Pollack said that communities have been participating in neighborhood walks-throughs so that MTA can listen to residents and elected officials and see firsthand what items need to be dealt with first -- things like sidewalks, fencing, etc.

Most encouraging, perhaps, is that some crews have resumed work on the project, starting with a few locations, including the aforementioned water and sewer relocation, but also includes concrete and paving work, overhead power location, traffic engineering services, and landscaping around the University of Maryland’s M. Pollack said, “Every day we are greenlighting contractors to continue the work.”

We wanted to highlight some of the questions that were asked, but as soon as the recording link is available, we'll include it in our newsletter so you can listen to the entire discussion at your convenience.

1) What is the plan going forward?

Pollack: Although we are still in settlement discussions and there remains some hope that we can come to agreement, absent that, we will resolicit for a new concessionaire and design build contractor to finish the work.

2) What is the definition of short-term work?

Pollack: “De-risking the project. Trying to get all the work done that tend to be causes of concerns for a [future] concessionaire. To do that, MTA is hoping to complete all utilities so the next contractor that comes in will have a reduced risk and hopefully allow the state to garner better prices to take the project to completion.

3) What about the work that has been done to prevent the project from becoming stagnant?

Pollack: Some area where work won’t be able to continue will need to be closed down properly for safety reasons, but if there is an area where we can restore sidewalks in the short term, or areas that need some additional protection, we will work to make that happen.

4) Who will pay for Purple Line if the private sector has pulled out?

Pollack: The private sector is not paying for the job. The private sector is financing the job. State/taxpayers are paying for job. Previously, the private sector was going to finance the project and then get paid back. But, we have a commitment from the state and we are still pursuing the TIFIA loans and will use the transportation trust fund where needed to fund the project going forward.

5) What about the CCT?

Pollack: As far as the funding goes, there is no intention of deleting scale at that design level. Timing is difficult for the CCT users in that construction must be almost completely done before the trail can be reestablished due to the way it is set up. There is going to be electric rail there so we cannot open safely in advance of the project.

Let us know if YOU have any questions by sending an email to us at [email protected] and we will try to get them answered. As always, we'll bring you as much information as possible from the CAT meetings and as developments occur.

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