News & Politics

Purple Line Construction to Start Later This Year

Rendering courtesy Maryland Transit Administration

Construction on the long-planned Purple Line rail system connecting Montgomery and Prince George’s counties is expected to begin later this year following Maryland Governor Larry Hogan‘s announcement Wednesday that the state has selected a contractor for the project. Purple Line Transit Partners—a consortium led by construction company Fluor Enterprises—was awarded the $3.3 billion contract to build the 16.2-mile line and operate it for 36 years.

While Hogan’s announcement today is a relief to transit proponents—who feared the Republican’s 2014 election would mean certain doom for the Purple Line—the governor also announced even more cuts to the railway’s overall funding. The state government will pay the contractor $159.8 million for up-front construction costs instead of the $168 million Hogan’s administration pledged last year. Once the line is running, Hogan’s office says Maryland will pay $149 million annually for its operations over 30 years, down from the $167 million yearly payments suggested in 2015.

The contract approved today brings down the Purple Line’s overall cost an additional $550 million, Hogan’s office says. The administration’s cost-shaving has forced Montgomery and Prince George’s counties to beef up their contributions to a combined $330 million, while the federal government plans to contribute $900 million over several years. Hogan’s transportation priorities have been more attuned toward cars—last June, he announced nearly $2 billion in funding for road and bridge projects, including the widening of many highways across the state.

When complete, the Purple Line will run from Bethesda to New Carrollton, carrying as many as 70,000 riders per day through 21 stations, according to transportation planners. The line is expected to enter service in 2022.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.