Purple Line Transit Partners (PLTP), the private consortium overseeing development of the 16-mile Maryland Purple Line light rail system, shortlisted three teams to replace the Fluor-led construction group that withdrew from the half-finished project in September amid a long-running dispute with the state over responsibility for about $800 million in cost overruns.
Selected from five prospective bidders in consultation with Maryland transportation officials, the candidates invited to submit formal proposals to PLTP are Nanuet, NY-based Halmar International; a joint venure of Dragados USA Inc. and OHL USA bidding as Maryland Transit Solutions; and a joint venture of Tutor Perini and Lunda Construction Co.
ENR has learned from sources close to the project that two other bidders, a joint venture of Bechtel and Clark Construction, and Israel-based contractor Shikun Binui, were not selected to proceed. Their names had not been disclosed.
Clark has been working on a mixed-use three-tower commercial project located above the Purple Line's western terminus in Bethesda and had worked on a plan to create shell spaces for the line and station and for the Capital Crescent trail system via a planned tunnel at the site. Bechtel had teamed with Plenary Group USA as a bidder for the Purple Line concession in 2013.
PLTP plans to select a contractor in June and finalize a contract by September to enable full-scale work to complete the controversial $2 billion light-rail project resuming by end of the year. In the meantime, the Maryland Dept. of Transportation will continue a scaled-back construction effort it has managed since Fluor’s departure.
Fluor accepted a $250 million settlement from Maryland, and ceded its 15% equity stake in PLTP, leaving Meridiam and Star America as the concessionaire’s main partners.
It is not known whether Fluor’s former construction partners—Lane Construction and Traylor Bros.—expressed interest in rejoining the project.
No revised completion timeline has been announced for the Purple Line, which is already two years behind its originally scheduled 2022 start-up date.
One issue that will await the new design-build team is Montgomery County’s recent request to single-track the Purple Line through the existing 870-ft long tunnel that will include the line’s Bethesda terminus station.
Such a move would free the county from spending $54.9 million to construct a separate tunnel nearby to accommodate a popular recreational trail that currently occupies Purple Line right of way.
Expansion of the existing tunnel to accommodate two tracks and the trail is not feasible, given its location beneath an office building and six-lane Wisconsin Ave.
The single-tracking idea, first proposed by county leaders in 2009, was revived by current County Executive Marc Elrich (D), who cited budget strains.
Should state transportation officials reject the request, Elrich says it might be at least six years before funding for the new tunnel is available.