Four bids submitted for Purple Line project

Maryland has not yet committed to utilising a P3 to develop the $2bn project but contenders hold out hope.

As the appointed time to decide whether a public-private partnership (PPP; P3) will be utilised to develop Maryland's Purple Line draws to a close, private players are chomping at the bit for the chance to develop the $2 billion project.

Four teams submitted bids to build and operate the line under a 35-year availability-payment concession contract prior to the December 8 deadline. These include Maryland Purple Line Partners (Vinci Concessions, Walsh Investors, InfraRed Capital Partners , Alstom Transport and Keolis), Maryland Transit Connectors ( John Laing Investments, Kiewit Development, Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate), Purple Line Transit Partners ( Meridiam Infrastructure Purple Line, Fluor, and Star America Fund), and Purple Plus Alliance ( Macquarie Capital and Skanska Development).

Once built, the 16-mile, 21-station Purple Line will operate across between Bethesda in Montgomery County and New Carrollton in Prince George's County. The winning team will have access to up to $700 million in low-interest federal loans to pay for their share of the project. Montgomery County will contribute $130 million, Prince George's County $217 million, and Governor Larry Hogan has pledged $168 million on the state's behalf – $532 million less than the amount promised by former Governor Martin O'Malley. 

According to state Department of Transportation secretary Pete Rahn, the state is looking for “responsive proposals to the requirements we've put out and we are looking for aggressive pricing”. 

“We have allowed the teams a great deal of flexibility in the design and we will see who has taken advantage of that and given us pricing that meets our needs,” he said in an interview with local radio station WAMU 88.5.

The decision as to whether a P3 will be utilised to develop the project is set to be made in February. Construction could begin as early as the spring of 2016, with the line scheduled to become operational by 2021.