The contractor building Maryland’s Purple Line says it will cost nearly $60 million to accelerate work on the delayed light-rail project, bringing potential cost overruns to almost $275 million.
The rail line’s opening date also has slipped by another month, to March 31, 2023, which would put it more than a year behind schedule, the contractor said.
The Washington Post reported this month that the contractor, a consortium of companies called Purple Line Transit Partners, projected a February 2023 opening and sought $215 million in additional costs. However, that figure, from November, included costs only for delays for which the contractor said the Maryland Transit Administration is responsible, such as those stemming from a federal lawsuit against the project.
The consortium’s December report added $59.6 million in “acceleration costs” that it says are required to offset delays, particularly those caused by the state’s lagging behind in acquiring rights of way. Acceleration costs typically cover expenses such as hiring more workers, paying overtime and extending leases on expensive equipment.
The total of $274.6 million in additional costs that the contractor is seeking would add 11.4 percent to the project’s $2.4 billion construction budget.
Maryland transportation officials and the Purple Line contractor have been arguing over the project’s schedule and potential delay costs for almost two years. The line’s construction started a year behind schedule, in August 2017, because of the lawsuit, which the state ultimately won.
Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn said the contractor’s reports are merely part of the dispute-resolution process the companies must go through before they can potentially file a court claim.
The reports, he said, “are the opening round of what appears to be a long and drawn-out process” of deciding who is responsible for what delays.
“Our position is we still have a contract that says this is to be delivered in 2022, and that hasn’t changed,” Rahn said in an interview Tuesday night. “We don’t agree with their assertions that these dollar amounts are due them.”
Rahn added, “We haven’t agreed to any of these claims. If we owe them money, it’s for vastly different amounts than what they’re making a claim for.”
Consortium spokesman John Undeland referred questions to Maryland transportation officials.
The 16-mile Purple Line, which is in its second year of construction, will have a total of 21 stations in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
The consortium is seeking $164.6 million related to what is says was a 266-day delay caused by the lawsuit. It did not include any additional “acceleration costs” required to offset that delay, according to the report.
The consortium is seeking $110 million total for the right-of-way delays — $50.4 million related to the delays and $59.6 million in acceleration costs.
Late acquisition of rights of way leads to delays in engineering, soil borings and other pre-construction work, the consortium wrote.
Without accelerating the work, the construction contractor wrote, the line will not open until mid-2024 — almost 2½ years behind the March 11, 2022, opening date in the project contract.