Court to decide if Maryland Purple Line project can move forward : A three-judge federal appeals court panel will soon decide if local activists’ arguments have enough merit to stop the beleaguered 16-mile Purple Line light rail project in Maryland from moving forward, according to The Washington Post.
Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail and two individuals claim the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the Clean Water Act when it issued permits allowing the Maryland Transit Administration Line to discharge dredged and fill material into local wetlands and other bodies of water. The FCCT also claims that the Army Corps did not consider less-damaging alternatives for the project, including the group’s proposal that the light-rail project be replaced with bus service.
Attorneys for the Army Corps said the light-rail option was the most environmentally sound and that the government did not err in their issuance of the permit, an argument that a Maryland federal judge agreed with when he ruled in favor of the Army Corps in April 2020.
This is the third lawsuit brought by the FCCT. The organization lost its previous two challenges against the Purple Line, which was the most expensive government contract in Maryland history and one of the biggest public-private partnerships in the U.S.
The first lawsuit delayed construction for almost a year, when U.S. District Judge Richard Leon revoked the project’s federal and state approvals around issues of ridership. The FCCT maintained that project officials used outdated Metro ridership numbers in projecting the line’s ridership, a factor included in the project’s evaluation prior to approval.
In July 2017, a federal judge reinstated the project approvals and allowed construction to begin, but that wasn’t the end of the Purple Line’s troubles.
In June, the state’s P3 partner, Purple Line Transit Partners, gave Maryland transportation officials 60 days notice that it was exiting the project after they could not reach a resolution on almost $800 million of change orders PLTP said it was owed.
This followed the May announcement by design-build joint venture Purple Line Transit Connectors, made up of Fluor, Lane Construction Corp. and Traylor Bros. Inc., that it was leaving the Purple Line P3 due to “the lack of meaningful resolution on the impacts of third-party lawsuits, delayed right-of-way acquisition and changes to regulations and third-party agreements.”
The state reached a settlement with contractors and its P3 partner in November, resulting in Fluor walking away from the P3 and leaving Meridiam and Star America to carry on.
PLTP announced this month that it has identified three design-build contractors as a potential replacement for PLTC. They are: Halmar International; Maryland Transit Solutions (Dragados USA and OHL USA ); and Tutor-Perini/Lunda Construction.
PLTP expects to issue a request for proposals to the three this month.
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