Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Purple Line gets green light - P3 team selected

Purple Line Transit Partners, a consortium of construction and operations firms were selected as the team to complete the design of the Purple Line, build it and operate it.
The firms of Fluor, Lane, and Traylor Brothers formed the necessary construction joint venture, Fluor, Alternate Concepts, Inc., and CAF formed the operations and maintenance joint venture.

MDOT issued a press release indicating the "green-lighting" of the project today, touting the fact that the State's construction cost contribution was further reduced from Hogan's envisioned $168 million to under $150 million.
Governor Hogan and Secretary Rahn at the announcement
that the Purple Line will move forward

The total $36 year State cost will amount to $3.3 billion for the project, a number that is higher than the cost of construction for the project since the State will pay the private side back with interest.

From MDOT's press release:
Following negotiations with Purple Line Transit Partners, an agreement has been set that will see the state’s upfront expenditure for Purple Line construction cost drop to $159.8 million – $8 million less than the $168 million threshold Governor Hogan originally announced. Additional project savings also will come from a reduction in the average annual availability payments, which will be $149 million, versus an earlier estimate of $167 million over 30 years. These payments will cover financing, operations, maintenance, and future required capital repairs and replacements for the Purple Line. To complement state funding for the project, Prince George’s and Montgomery counties have pledged a combined $330 million in cash and non-cash contributions for the project. The federal government also has reserved about $900 million for the Purple Line in New Starts Funding. In the most recent announcement of President Obama’s budget, $125 million was recommended for FY 17, which would bring the total federal funding to date to $325 million to be appropriated for the Purple Line. Importantly, the state has reduced overall costs during the 36-year life of the agreement by more than $550 million. With an expected $1.36 billion in fare revenue along with local and federal contributions to the project, the final costs for the state over the 36 years will be about $3.3 billion.
Purple Line at University Boulevard

The Purple Line had been one of three New Starts project that the State of Maryland had advanced under Governor O'Malley. The other two projects were the Baltimore Red Line and the Corridor City Transit Way.  The Red Line was cancelled by the Governor in an announcement last March in which the Governor considered it ill conceived, too costly and its tunnel section a "boondoggle". The Corridor City project was not aborted. The Purple Line was selected to move forward but the State's funding was trimmed from $700 million to the $168 million. The Purple Line project has no tunnel segments and runs either on dedicated right of ways or in the street. The alignment is 16.2 miles long and runs in Prince Georges and Montgomery Counties. Original cost estimates were about $2.5 billion.  The current administration had a list of cost saving measures including slightly longer head-ways and simplified shelters that would alter the project slightly from what had been presented in public meetings under the previous Governor.

Before the project can proceed, the State still needs a full funding agreement with the Federal Transit Administration.

In a P3 project, the design will be completed by a private team based on what had been designed with state and federal funds to date and specific specifications that were issued by the MTA and consultant design team. P3 specifications are performance based and not prescriptive, allowing the P3 team some flexibility. It is not yet public yet whether additional design changes were accepted to bring the cost and State payment services down as noted in the press release.

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

Link: FAQ for the project based on the current green light

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