Maryland’s Purple Line gets $900m federal grant

The $2bn PPP, which seemed at risk of derailment earlier this year, is being built by a team led by Meridiam.

Maryland’s Purple Line light rail project, a $2 billion public-private partnership connecting Bethesda in Montgomery County and New Carrollton in Prince George’s County, will move forward with a $900 million grant from the US Federal Transit Administration.

The 26km project, which includes 21 stops, will be built by Purple Line Transit Partners, a consortium led by Paris-based manager Meridiam. The group, which includes infrastructure fund manager Star America and US developer Fluor Enterprises, was selected by Maryland’s Department of Transportation in March 2016, reaching financial close on the project that June.

The Purple Line has since run into a series of challenges, including a federal lawsuit last year that put funding for the project in jeopardy. A series of court decisions since May have allowed the project to move forward, with the federal funding announced at a ground-breaking ceremony this week. The line will also receive an $875 million TIFIA loan.

Treasury secretary Elaine Chao, whose department includes the FTA, hailed the project as an “excellent example of leveraging a transit project through a public-private partnership”. Chao has highlighted the need for more PPP projects.

The Purple Line is set to be completed in 2022, with Purple Line Transit Partners operating and maintaining the line under a 30-year concession. The total cost of construction and maintenance is estimated at $5.6 billion. The project will connect to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor as well as three Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and three Maryland Area Regional Commuter lines.