Purple Line Updates: Light Rail in Maryland - Wells + Associates

Purple Line Updates: Light Rail in Maryland

Purple Line Timeline: A Brief Overview

purple line history timeline - infographic by wells + associates
Timeline: A Brief History of the Purple Line in Maryland. Click to enlarge. Feel free to republish or share.

In August 2017, construction of the Purple Line broke ground. This 16.2-mile light-rail project will provide a connection between Bethesda, Maryland in Montgomery County and New Carrollton, Maryland in Prince George’s County. Upon completion, the light-rail system will enable Washington area Metro riders to get access between the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Red, Green, Yellow, and Orange lines without needing to travel to central Washington D.C. It will also link riders to three MARC commuter rail transfer points along the route.

November 2020: What’s Happening with the Purple Line Now?

The Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Authority (MDOT MTA) is the project leader. In 2016, MDOT MTA chose The Purple Line Transit Partnership (PLTP) as a private-sector partner for the project. This group was to be responsible to design, build, operate, and maintain the Purple Line for 25 years. The PLTP was formed by three concessionaires – Meridian, Fluor Enterprises, and Star America and one subcontractor, L&C Coldwell & Associates.

Due to a contract dispute, the PTLP stopped construction on September 23, 2020.  Governor Hogan, however, has promised to complete the Purple Line project. MTA took over the day-to-day management of the project on September 28, 2020.

The immediate next steps for MTA are to button up any construction site and make sure there is no immediate danger from existing construction sites. MTA and the subcontractors are continuing the following work: traffic maintenance and sediment control, relocation of utilities, installation of utility supply at the Glenridge Operations and Maintenance Facility, manufacturing of light-rail infrastructure off-site, and completing final construction designs for stormwater management and “intelligent transportation systems”.[1]

As of now, MTA officials are deciding whether to continue managing the project, seek another public-private partnership, or identify a new contractor. Their goal is to come to a decision in the next six months.

Various outlets and social media accounts show progress on the Purple Line in the recent weeks. Updates will be added here, as we follow the progress of the Purple Line.

October 8, 2020

The Purple Line Twitter page @PurpleLineMD showed progress on the light rail vehicles being assembled in upstate New York. The 140-foot-long light rail vehicle is the longest light rail vehicle of its kind on the continent.

October 12, 2020

Contractors are continuing to relocate utilities along the Purple Line alignment.

October 16, 2020

On the Kojo Nnamdi Politics Hour Show, Lt. Governor Rutherford expressed his opinion on the Purple Line’s P-3 partnership. He believes the P-3 model was not the issue and another P-3 consortium could be an option for moving the project forward. He believes that the project will move forward, and the stoppage will only cause a slight delay.[2]


  1. https://bethesdamagazine.com/bethesda-beat/transit/state-has-taken-over-some-purple-line-contracts/
  2. https://thekojonnamdishow.org/shows/2020-10-16/the-politics-hour-october-16-2020