Purple Line Announcement Fakeout

Turns out the January 15 (i.e., today) deadline was not really a deadline. Bethesda Magazine:

Maryland Transit Administration officials are still evaluating proposals from four teams that are bidding to build the estimated $2.2 billion, 16-mile light rail line.

The MTA, in putting out a request for bids, had set Friday as the date it would notify a team it had been chosen to build the project.

Paul Shepard, MTA spokesman, said in a statement sent to Bethesda Beat Friday that the agency is currently in the evaluation and solicitation process and can’t comment until it reaches a final agreement. An announcement about the selected bid is anticipated to occur in February, according to Shepard.

“Note that the Jan. 15 date in the [request for proposal] for proposer selection, which was reported in local news media, was just a guideline for proposers and not a certain date for the selection of any team,” Shepard said, in the statement.

Also still up in the air: how much is this all going to cost, and how much will Montgomery County have to pay? Another Bethesda Magazine article discusses County Executive Ike Leggett’s just-submitted capital budget, which covers six years.

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett on Friday recommended a $4.4 billion capital budget for the next six years, a 3.1 percent decrease from the current six-year capital budget that Leggett said allows room for more spending on the Purple Line light-rail and White Oak redevelopment projects despite the county’s budget difficulties.

“We are still negotiating the final details regarding high priority projects such as the Purple Line and White Oak Redevelopment,” Leggett wrote in a memo delivered Friday to County Council President Nancy Floreen. “Therefore, I have held additional fiscal capacity to allow appropriations when needed. As planning progresses for these two projects, I will submit [capital improvements program] amendments to move these priorities forward.”
Leggett also said officials faced “serious challenges” in developing the budget recommendations, including lower-than-expected revenue estimates and the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Wynne tax case, which could cost the county more than $100 million over the next few years.
* * *

The recommended budget includes $192.1 million for four Purple Line-related projects, including $40 million for the light-rail itself that Leggett promised Hogan last summer as the governor moved to cut the state’s share of the costs for the 16-mile system.
The bulk of the $40 million would be spent from 2019 to 2022. Leggett also requested an appropriation for the fiscal year that ends July 1 to buy land in the project’s right-of-way and said full costs and the funding schedule won’t be known “until the state’s negotiations with the selected concessionaire are concluded this spring.”
The county expects construction of the Purple Line to start late this year or early next year and last five years.

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