Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Maryland Purple Line vote delayed

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The Maryland Board of Public Works will not vote Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, to approve a public-private partnership deal for the state's proposed Purple Line light rail transit project.

The Board, consisting of the state governor, comptroller, and treasurer, must approve any such deal before the Maryland Department of Transportation can initiate any partnership arrangement. Maryland DOT seeks a 35-year design, build, operate, and maintain (DBOM) arrangement, similar to that used elsewhere, including for New Jersey Transit's Hudson-Bergen Light Rail line.

MDOT spokeswoman Erin Henson told local media the agency is "taking a little more time to craft the solicitation" and will make its presentation to the Board of Public Works on Nov. 6. Maryland expects the private sector, most likely some kind of joint venture, to front up to $900 million of the Purple Line's projected $2.2 billion construction cost.

Maryland would reimburse the private partners for such costs over a five year span, as well as pay the private operator to operate and maintain the line for 30 years.

Opponents of the 16-mile Purple Line, notably concentrated at the proposed line's western stretch in Montgomery County in Chevy Chase, Md., have expressed skepticism over the public-private partnership arrangement, with some claiming the concept has yet to be tried within the U.S.