In today's edition of Purple Line NOW News, here's what you'll find:
- MDOT Briefing on Purple Line Status to Montgomery County Council
- Photos from Around the Purple Line Corridor
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PURPLE LINE NEWS AND EVENTS
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CONSTRUCTION NEWS TO KNOW
Maryland Department of Transportation Briefing to Montgomery County Council
Purple Line NOW has been advocating for the transit line for the better part of three decades and we have seen our share of ups and downs throughout that time. The news this week, out of the circuit court, which allows the project’s builder to abandon the project is certainly the most recent hurdle the project is facing.
If you missed Purple Line NOW’s official response to the news, you can read that press release here: Yesterday's Ruling: Purple Line NOW Presses for Path Forward.
Members of our organization sat in on yesterday's briefing by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) on the Purple Line. Expected representatives were to include Greg Slater, Secretary, Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), Kevin Quinn, Administrator, Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT/MTA), Matt Pollack, Purple Line Project Director, MDOT/MTA, and Christopher Conklin, Director, Montgomery County Department of Transportation (DOT). Secretary Slater was unable to attend.
The key points to come out of the meeting involved timeline, plans, and pressing Governor Hogan to publicly comment and commit to finishing the project.
According to Mr. Quinn and Mr. Pollack, it will take about 30 days for them to assess the entire alignment, and by the end of that period, they expect to have a segment-by-segment, district-by-district breakdown of what can continue immediately, what may need to be locked up, where pedestrian access can be improved, etc. They are doing a walk-through with the concessionaire to makes sure areas under construction will be made safe for pedestrians.
Silver Spring Station - Deck Installation
Each reiterated that their focus is on keeping construction moving throughout the corridor in the short term while a long term plan is being worked out. This will be determined by a legal evaluation of the subcontracts, staffing capacity, as well as other critical areas of assessment.
The pair said that within four to six months, they will have a better idea of a path forward and what kind of package they will put together. Much of it will depend on how the litigation falls out, but Quinn repeated that it is their intent construction will continue during that time.
Mr. Pollack said that they are looking at all options and the “cure” could involve one of, or a combination of, the following:
- The state and PLTP comes to a fair and reasonable agreement and move forward.
- The state takes over the project entirely.
- Rebidding the project out for construction and/or design.
He emphasized that the final plan may include a combination of two or more options.
We did have a bit of good news yesterday. The Community Advisory Teams (CATs) will likely begin meeting again in November. We will let you know those dates when they are put on the calendar.
One of the questions we have been asked most in the wake of the news is what will happen to the workforce – will they be rehired or laid off in the face of an unprecedented pandemic?
Right now, with very little information being shared while the state works on assessing their options, Quinn reminded the Council that the answer depends on whether or not they hire subcontractors who could insist on managing the hiring of their own personnel. He said that until they come up with the plan, they would not be able to rehire workers immediately, but that current workers will certainly have a “leg up” having worked on the project. Purple Line NOW will keep asking these questions as more information comes out.
Councilmember Andrew Friedson asked the following questions and they are important ones as we gather more information and as the MDOT makes decisions concerning the future of the project:
- What are the options?
- How much will those options cost?
- Who will pay for them?
- When will they be delivered?
We all deserve answers to these questions as quickly as possible. One concern raised by some state and national elected officials is that these costs might disproportionately fall on other mass transit services.
Public Response from Governor Hogan
All Councilmembers pressed Mr. Quinn to communicate to Governor Hogan the need for a public statement about the state’s commitment to seeing the project built. Councilmember Reimer notably said, “Governor Hogan isn’t just a passenger on the train, he’s driving the train!”
Many Councilmembers noted the “punch in the gut” and were highly critical of the Purple Line Transit Partners (the project’s concessionaire) for potentially abandoning the project.
After the meeting was over, a new development reported by Katie Shaver of the Washington Post came to light -- both sides were considering using mediation to complete the project together. (K. Shaver, Washington Post, September 15, 2020.) Stay tuned.
If you have further questions, we are happy to try to get answers for you, so send them along.
Photos from Around the Purple Line Corridor