Builders set to leave Maryland's Purple Line rail project

There are a big questions surrounding the future of Maryland's long-stalled Purple Line light rail project. A trio of companies that are building the line between Bethesda and new Carrollton say they plan to leave the project. 

Purple Line Transit Constructors is building the 16.2 mile light rail line. In a statement, the group says project delays from lawsuits and cost overruns will have them leave the project in 60 to 90 days.

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Maryland's transportation department says they’re committed to the Purple Line and will continue to negotiate. 

Greg Sanders Vice President of transit support group “Purple Line Now” tells FOX 5, “It is a real, a real problem. If we cannot get a negotiated outcome there’s probably going to be some delay as they try to find a new set of construction firms. No way that doesn’t add time and cost.”

The companies are exercising a clause that allows them to leave the project if the $2 billion light rail line is delayed by a year. Right now, the Purple Line is overdue a year and a half, with close to a half billion dollars in cost overruns. 

If the builders actually do leave the project, the state of Maryland and it’s private partners would have to find another company to finish the half built light rail line. Such a delay could force back the time even further. 

Montgomery County Councilman Tom Hucker, is chairman of the council transportation committee. He tells FOX 5 he is hopeful both sides will continue to talk.  

“They want to be compensated for their delays, I’ve got to believe that is going to be worked out I hope it gets worked out without any additional cost to state taxpayers.”

Hucker says one outcome could be the company running the project “just eats the cost and makes the purple line constructors happy.”

Rail service was supposed to begin on the Purple Line in 2022, however that timeline could be significantly delayed if an agreement is not reached.