Purple Line Update: Project Timeline And Current Status Of Construction


The State of Maryland awarded a $5.6 billion dollar contract to design, build and operate the Purple Line light rail project in April 2016 and authorized the contractor, the Purple Line Transit Partners, to proceed with “pre-construction activities” while the State pursued finalizing a full funding agreement with the federal government, which had promised to contribute $900 million dollars to the project. On July 28, 2016 the State announced that the formal signing of a full funding agreement with the Federal Transit Administration had been scheduled to take place on August 8, 2016. It was anticipated that construction of the Purple Line would begin shortly thereafter. But a judge on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia had other ideas.

August 3, 2016         
The U.S. District Court (Leon, J.) vacated the Record of Decision (“ROD”), which was the required federal approval of the Purple Line, and directed the State to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement addressing whether a decline in Metro ridership would impact the Purple Line’s ridership. The vacation of the ROD precluded the State from receiving the $900 million of federal funding which had been committed to the project. Thus, the court’s order put the entire project in jeopardy.

December 16, 2016
The State advised the District Court that it had reviewed the ridership issue and determined that no change in Metro ridership would adversely impact the Purple Line, as the Purple Line would still be needed even if no Metro riders transferred to the light rail. The State asked the Court to reinstate the ROD.

December 2016 – March 2017
The Court failed to rule on the State’s request that the ROD be reinstated, so the project remained stalled and in jeopardy of failing completely.

March 31, 2017
The State filed a motion asking that the Court rule on its pending motion expeditiously. Specifically, the State asked that the Court rule on its motion no later than April 28, 2017. The Court failed to decide the State’s motion by the end of April as the State had requested it to do and the court continued to hold the State’s motion under advisement without issuing a decision.

May 12, 2017
The State sought a writ of mandamus from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia asking the Court of Appeals to order the District Court to issue a final appealable decision in the case “forthwith.”

May 22, 2017
The District Court finally issued a decision in favor of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit and against the State holding that the State’s failure to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement was arbitrary and capricious—and the District Court reiterated its requirement that the State prepare a new environmental impact statement before it would be permitted to move forward with the project.

May 29, 2017
The District Court issued a final judgment on the underlying lawsuit, which made it possible for the State to finally file an appeal.

June 2, 2017
The State filed a motion asking the District Court to stay its
August 3, 2016 Order vacating the ROD pending the State’s appeal of the court’s decision.

June 15, 2017
The District Court held a hearing on the State’s request that it stay its Order vacating the ROD pending the State’s appeal. The State asked the District Court to rule expeditiously on its motion. At the hearing the District Court advised the State that it could not “predict” how long it may take to issue a decision on the State’s motion for a stay pending appeal. The court stated that it was going to write an opinion because “[t]he Court of Appeals likes things with ribbons and bows on them, so they will get ribbons and bows.”

June 21, 2017
Because the District Court had failed to rule on its motion, the State filed a motion in the Court of Appeals asking the appellate court to stay the District Court’s order pending appeal.

June 26, 2017
The District Court issued its Order denying the State’s request for a stay pending appeal.

July 18, 2017
The Court of Appeals issued an Order reinstating the ROD pending its consideration of the State’s appeal of the District Court’s judgment.

Once the Record of Decision was reinstated, the State aggressively pursued formalizing the federal government’s commitment of $900 million to the project. Construction of the project was still effectively stayed, as the State could not go forward with the project without the promised federal funding.

August 28, 2017    
The Federal Transit Administration signed the Full Funding Agreement with the State officially committing federal funds to the project.
    
Construction of the Purple Line is now over a full year behind the original schedule. Consequently, the State and the contractor moved aggressively to begin construction and make up for lost time.  

August 29, 2017    
The very next day after the FTA signed the Full Funding Agreement, the contractor posted public notices that the Georgetown Branch Trail would be closed for the anticipated five-year period of construction beginning Tuesday, September 5, 2017. In addition, property acquisition and tenant and owner relocation activities were accelerated.  And, because the Maryland Office of Attorney General, which prosecutes eminent domain cases for the Purple Line, was overwhelmed by the number of open and unresolved cases, the State has engaged a private law firm to handle some of the cases to expedite the property acquisition process.

The State’s acceleration of construction and property acquisition has led to many questions from the public concerning the schedule of construction and when, exactly, construction activities will begin at different points along the 16-mile route.

September 28, 2017
The Montgomery County Council held a hearing where it asked the Purple Line contractor (Purple Line Transit Partners) and State representatives to advise the County Council of the expected construction schedule and many other issues. The contractor advised the County Council that it was working on a master construction schedule, but it has not yet completed that effort. The contractor advised that once the schedule was complete it would be posted on the Purple Line Project Website.  You may view a videotape of the hearing by clicking here.

In addition, the contractor explained that it hoped to provide weekly updates to the construction schedule as the project moves forward. And interested members of the public could sign up to receive project updates and other information by Email or text by clicking on this page of the website.  Finally, the contractor will hold regular meetings with the Community Advisory Councils that have been formed to be liaisons between the project and the community. A list of the Community Advisory Councils and how to contact them may also be found on the project website by clicking here.

The eminent domain attorneys at Miller, Miller & Canby will review any offer made by the State without charge to determine whether we believe you may be entitled to greater compensation than has been offered by the State.  If you are interested in a no obligation review of your offer, or if you have any questions about your rights or the condemnation process, please call our office at 301-762-5212 and ask to speak with one of our eminent domain attorneys, Jim Thompson or Joe Suntum.  To learn more about our eminent domain and condemnation law practice and representative cases, click here.

 





Purple Line Update: Maryland Approves Purple Line Contract


Construction to Begin This Year; Property Acquisitions Moving Slow

The Maryland Board of Public Works approved a contract with a team of private companies to build and operate the 16-mile Purple Line and approval for the contractor to begin “pre-construction activities” has been given. The State is withholding full go-ahead for construction until it receives a full funding agreement with the Federal Transit Administration for $900 million dollars. The federal financial contribution is critical to the project and is expected to be formalized later this year.

In addition to the federal funds, Montgomery County will contribute $210 million and Prince George’s County is expected to pay $60 million toward the project. The total cost of the project over 30 years, including operation and maintenance, is expected to reach $5.6 billion.

In anticipation of the start of construction later this year, the State has been actively seeking to acquire privately-owned real property in the right of way. But the volume of properties to be acquired and the limited number of appraisers available to provide the State with independent valuations of the property have slowed the process. Many owners along the planned route of the project have yet to receive offers from the State for their property.

In order to avoid the delay in acquisition of title to the properties causing a delay in construction, the State will use its quick-take authority where possible. Quick-take authority allows the State to pay into court the amount of compensation an independent appraiser has determined is appropriate for the property and take possession, not title, to the property and proceed with construction. The property owner is permitted to withdraw the funds deposited with the court without prejudice to the owner’s claim that additional compensation is due.

The quick-take procedure is not available for all properties along the Purple Line route, however. So, the contractor may have to schedule construction around properties that have yet to be acquired until the State completes the acquisitions, either by negotiation or condemnation.

What Owners Need to Know

Updated appraisals for those properties for which offers have not yet been made are coming in to the State. Such owners may expect to receive offers to purchase their properties at any time. It is important for owners to realize that they do not need to accept the offers. Often the offers do not reflect the full amount of compensation the owner is entitled to receive. For the properties for which offers were made before the Governor's stay, but for which voluntary sales have not been reached, the State has begun to file formal condemnation petitions. In addition, owners should expect the window for negotiations based on new updated appraisals to be narrow. Additional condemnations will have to be filed in the coming months if voluntary agreements are not reached, in order for the project to stay on schedule.

The eminent domain attorneys at Miller, Miller & Canby will review any offer made by the State without charge to determine whether we believe you may be entitled to greater compensation than has been offered by the State.  If you are interested in a no obligation review of your offer, or if you have any questions about your rights or the condemnation process, please call our office at 301-762-5212 and ask to speak with one of our eminent domain attorneys, Jim Thompson or Joe Suntum.  To learn more about our eminent domain and condemnation law practice and representative cases, click here.





Purple Line Update: Residents Along Path of Proposed Purple Line Told to Move Fences & Sheds


The Washington Post reported on January 6 that some Maryland residents along the planned route for the light-rail Purple Line are being told that they have until April 30 to tear down fences, sheds and anything else built on publicly owned land preserved for the project.  Click here to read the full story.  As the article confirms, Maryland is moving full steam ahead with the property acquisition process in order to acquire the property it needs to be able to begin construction as soon as the preferred contractor is chosen and the contract finalized later this year.

Some properties have already been acquired and other acquisitions are in process. Appraisers engaged by the State to value the property rights needed are in the field and their submitted appraisals continue to be reviewed by the MTA and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in preparation for offers to be made to owners.

What Owners Need to Know

Updated appraisals for those properties for which offers have not yet been made are coming in to the State. Such owners may expect to receive offers to purchase their properties at any time. It is important for owners to realize that they do not need to accept the offers. Often the offers do not reflect the full amount of compensation the owner is entitled to receive. For the properties for which offers were made before the Governor's stay, but for which voluntary sales have not been reached, the State is preparing to file formal condemnation petitions. It is expected that the "first wave" of condemnation petitions will be filed this month. In addition, owners should expect the window for negotiations based on new updated appraisals to be narrow. Additional condemnations will have to be filed in the coming months if voluntary agreements are not reached, in order for the project to stay on schedule.

The eminent domain attorneys at Miller, Miller & Canby will review any offer made by the State without charge to determine whether we believe you may be entitled to greater compensation than has been offered by the State.  If you are interested in a no obligation review of your case, or if you have any questions about your rights or the condemnation process, please call our office at 301-762-5212 and ask to speak with one of our eminent domain attorneys, Jim Thompson or Joe Suntum.  To learn more about our eminent domain and condemnation law practice and representative case, click here.
 





Purple Line: State Making Offers to Property Owners; Construction Expected to Begin Spring 2016


After Governor Hogan was elected last November he put the Purple Line project on hold pending a reconsideration of its cost and benefit. At the time the State was in the process of negotiating the acquisition of the real property that would be required for the project. Some properties had been purchased. Appraisals had been received and offers made on additional properties. And appraisals were in process on others still. Governor Hogan announced his decision to move forward with the Purple Line in June, but the stay had rendered many of the appraisals the State had obtained stale. Since June, the State has been awaiting updates of the appraisals on many properties in order to extend formal offers to purchase the properties. At the same time the State has been trying to negotiate voluntary acquisitions of the properties for which offers have had been made before the stay.
    
Timeline
The bids from the three concessionaires to build the Purple Line are due November 17, 2015. A concessionaire is expected to be chosen early in 2016 with construction to begin by late Spring 2016. The State needs to obtain control of the property needed for the project before construction begins. Consequently, the State needs to move forward promptly with its acquisition process.

What Owners Need to Know
Updated appraisals for those properties for which offers have not yet been made are coming in to the State. Such owners may expect to receive offers to purchase their properties at any time. It is important for owners to realize that they do not need to accept the offers. Often the offers do not reflect the full amount of compensation the owner is entitled to receive. For the properties for which offers were made before the Governor's stay, but for which voluntary sales have not been reached, the State is preparing to file formal condemnation petitions. The State expects the "first wave" of condemnation petitions to be filed before the end of the year. In addition, owners should expect the window for negotiations based on new updated appraisals to be narrow. Additional condemnations will be filed early next year if agreements are not reached.

The eminent domain attorneys at Miller, Miller & Canby will review any offer made by the State without charge to determine whether we believe you may be entitled to greater compensation than has been offered by the State.  If you are interested in a no obligation review of your case, or if you have any questions about your rights or the condemnation process, please call our office at 301-762-5212 and ask to speak with one of our eminent domain attorneys, Jim Thompson or Joe Suntum.  To learn more about our eminent domain and condemnation law practice and representative case, click here.
 





Purple Line Project Update: Will Governor Hogan Proceed with the Project?


Guessing whether Governor Hogan will decide to proceed with the Purple Line Project is becoming quite a parlor game for interested parties. Shortly after the election in November, the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) extended the date by which the chosen concessionaires (private contractor / entrepreuneurs to finance and build the project) were to submit their bids to build and maintain the project from January to March 12, 2015, i.e. after Governor Hogan’s inauguration, in order to allow Governor Hogan input on the project. The Governor has not indicated what his decision will be. Rather, he is keeping his options and opinions close to his vest while interested parties, both pro and con, continue to aggressively lobby him.

Governor Hogan appointed Pete K. Rahn as acting Secretary of Transportation. Mr. Rahn has said that he and the Governor are looking for ways to reduce the cost of the project, as opposed to terminate it, or change the length or chosen route. Mr. Rahn met with the chosen concessionaires who will be bidding to construct and maintain the project and asked them to look for possible cost reductions. The State has now extended the date for bids to be submitted by five months from March 12th to mid-August. Based on reporting by the Washington Post, the length of the extension appears to be two-fold: first, to permit Governor Hogan to make a decision on whether to proceed with the project by mid-May and; second, if the decision is to go forward, to provide the concessionaires 3 additional months to complete and submit their bids.  The post-legislative session timing of the Governor’s decision has some project advocates concerned that the Governor is simply delaying a decision to kill the project until after the legislature completes its session, in order to avoid political blow-back on the Governor’s other priorities.

In the meantime, the first phase of the project, i.e. acquisition of the private property needed for the project, appears to have stalled. The State continues to contract with appraisers to appraise the property needed—and internally review the appraisals it receives—but no offers are being extended to property owners. In addition, the Board of Public works will not be considering or approving any agreed acquisitions in March. The bottom line appears to be that the State appears to be trying to do all it can to keep the project as close to “on schedule” as possible—without obligating the State to go forward with the project or purchase property before the Governor makes his decision. And that decision is still a couple of months away.

The eminent domain attorneys at Miller, Miller & Canby will review any offer made by the State without charge to determine whether we believe you may be entitled to greater compensation than has been offered by the State.  If you are interested in a no obligation review of your case, or if you have any questions about your rights or the condemnation process, please call our office at 301-762-5212 and ask to speak with one of our eminent domain attorneys, Jim Thompson or Joe Suntum.  To learn more about our eminent domain and condemnation law practice and representative cases, click here.





Governor Hogan's Proposed Budget Includes $312 Million for the Purple Line This Year


Governor Hogan released his proposed budget on Friday, January 23, 2015. His budget includes $312.8 million for the Purple Line “pending review and reevaluation.” The MTA’s acquisition team has confirmed that its instructions are to proceed with the necessary property acquisitions. Property acquisitions are scheduled to be accomplished this year, so construction may begin in late 2015 or early 2016. Consequently, it is reasonable to assume that the budgeted funds are to permit the property acquisition process to proceed in order to keep the project on schedule. The MTA has advised that any delay in the schedule will substantially increase the overall cost of the project.

The four vendors competing for the contract to build, operate and maintain the Purple Line are scheduled to submit their bids by March 12, 2015. The bids will present the next decision point for the project, as the bids will include how much of the total construction cost the vendors offer to contribute.

The eminent domain attorneys at Miller, Miller & Canby will review any offer made by the State without charge to determine whether we believe you may be entitled to greater compensation than has been offered by the State.  If you are interested in a no obligation review of your case, or if you have any questions about your rights or the condemnation process, please call our office at 301-762-5212 and ask to speak with one of our eminent domain attorneys, Jim Thompson or Joe Suntum.  To learn more about our eminent domain and condemnation law practice and representative cases, click here.





Governor Hogan’s Budget Includes the Purple and Red Line Projects


Governor Hogan briefed legislators on his budget today. He stated that money to keep the two projects moving forward is included in his budget, but the extent of the funding was not announced. His formal budget will be released tomorrow.  To keep the projects on schedule pending a final decision it is likely that the necessary acquisition of real property will continue. We will learn more over the next several days as the budget details and continuation of the Purple and Red Line Projects are fleshed out.

The eminent domain attorneys at Miller, Miller & Canby will review any offer made by the State without charge to determine whether we believe you may be entitled to greater compensation than has been offered by the State.  If you are interested in a no obligation review of your case, or if you have any questions about your rights or the condemnation process, please call our office at 301-762-5212 and ask to speak with one of our eminent domain attorneys, Jim Thompson or Joe Suntum.  To learn more about our eminent domain and condemnation law practice and representative cases, click here.





Maryland Senators and Representatives Encourage Governor-elect Hogan to Support the Purple Line


Governor-elect Hogan is still keeping his counsel concerning the fate of the Purple and Red Lines confidential. He has repeatedly stated that he will not state his position on the projects until after his inauguration next week—and maybe not for a period of time after that. But both United States Senators from Maryland and seven of Maryland’s Members of Congress have publicly stated their strong support for the projects. In a letter to Governor-elect Hogan Maryland’s federal representatives argue that “(t)he entire Baltimore and Greater Washington area Congressional delegations have fought hard to ensure that federal funds are available to support the Red and Purple Lines…This is truly a historic opportunity that may never come again…”

See a copy of the entire letter by clicking the download attachment button below.

The eminent domain attorneys at Miller, Miller & Canby will review any offer made by the State without charge to determine whether we believe you may be entitled to greater compensation than has been offered by the State.  If you are interested in a no obligation review of your case, or if you have any questions about your rights or the condemnation process, please call our office at 301-762-5212 and ask to speak with one of our eminent domain attorneys, Jim Thompson or Joe Suntum.  Jim Thompson was named 2013 Lawyer of the Year in the Eminent Domain category by Best Lawyers and Joe Suntum is the Maryland representative member of the Owners’ Counsel of America—a respected national organization of eminent domain attorneys dedicated to protecting clients’ rights in condemnation.  For more information on Miller, Miller & Canby’s eminent domain practice and the firm’s representative eminent domain cases, please click here.  For the third year in a row, U.S. News – Best Lawyers® has awarded Miller, Miller & Canby a First Tier ranking in the Washington, DC metropolitan area for Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law.

The eminent domain attorneys at Miller, Miller & Canby will review any offer made by the State without charge to determine whether we believe you may be entitled to greater compensation than has been offered by the State.  If you are interested in a no obligation review of your case, or if you have any questions about your rights or the condemnation process, please call our office at 301-762-5212 and ask to speak with one of our eminent domain attorneys, Jim Thompson or Joe Suntum.  Jim Thompson was named 2013 Lawyer of the Year in the Eminent Domain category by Best Lawyers and Joe Suntum is the Maryland representative member of the Owners’ Counsel of America—a respected national organization of eminent domain attorneys dedicated to protecting clients’ rights in condemnation.  For more information on Miller, Miller & Canby’s eminent domain practice and the firm’s representative eminent domain cases, please click here.  For the third year in a row, U.S. News – Best Lawyers® has awarded Miller, Miller & Canby a First Tier ranking in the Washington, DC metropolitan area for Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law. - See more at: http://www.millermillercanby.com/blog/index.cfm/purple-line-eminent-domain-condemnation-litigation#sthash.7paq10LZ.dpuf





Concessionaire Bids Delayed, But Purple Line Acquisitions Continue


The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) has announced that it has extended the period for the four chosen concessionaires to submit their bids for constructing and maintaining the Purple Line from January 9th to March 12th, 2015 in order to give Governor-elect Larry Hogan time to assess the project after his inauguration on January 21st. Although the bid date has been backed up, the MTA insists that the project construction timeline has not changed and construction will still begin in late 2015 if the new governor allows it to go forward.

Although the date for concessionaires to submit their bids has been delayed, the property acquisition process is moving forward unabated. Some properties have already been acquired and other acquisitions are in process. Appraisers engaged by the State to value the property rights needed are in the field and their submitted appraisals continue to be reviewed by the MTA and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in preparation for offers to be made to owners.

The acquisition process requires that the State make a good faith effort to negotiate a voluntary purchase of the property needed for the project before filing a formal condemnation action. That "good faith process" includes the valuation of the property rights to be acquired and damages caused to any remaining property by an independent appraiser. The MTA and FTA review and approve the independent appraisals upon which the State's offer of compensation will be based. But, it is important for owners to know that they are not obligated to accept the State's offer. Often the condemning authority's offer fails to capture the full value of the property rights being taken, or the damages that will be caused to any remaining property not being taken. Owners should have the State's offer and the appraisal upon which it is based reviewed by knowledgeable counsel before deciding whether or not to accept it.
    
The eminent domain attorneys at Miller, Miller & Canby will review any offer made by the State without charge to determine whether we believe you may be entitled to greater compensation than has been offered by the State.  If you are interested in a no obligation review of your case, or if you have any questions about your rights or the condemnation process, please call our office at 301-762-5212 and ask to speak with one of our eminent domain attorneys, Jim Thompson or Joe Suntum.  Jim Thompson was named 2013 Lawyer of the Year in the Eminent Domain category by Best Lawyers and Joe Suntum is the Maryland representative member of the Owners’ Counsel of America—a respected national organization of eminent domain attorneys dedicated to protecting clients’ rights in condemnation.  For more information on Miller, Miller & Canby’s eminent domain practice and the firm’s representative eminent domain cases, please click here.  For the third year in a row, U.S. News – Best Lawyers® has awarded Miller, Miller & Canby a First Tier ranking in the Washington, DC metropolitan area for Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law.
 





Purple Line News: Dual Tracking Now Underway


The Purple Line Project is moving forward aggressively on two parallel tracks. The State is pursuing the selection of its private partner who will build, operate and maintain the project, while it simultaneously moves forward with the process of acquiring the property it needs in and along the right-of-way, either by agreement, or eminent domain if necessary.

The Purple Line is Maryland’s first “P3”—Public Private Partnership—project, in which a private company will be chosen to build, operate and maintain the system according to specifications set by the State. Because the chosen concessionaire will be required to maintain the system for 30 years after it is constructed, the concessionaire will be motivated to build a high-quality system—at least that is the theory.  Numerous contending companies submitted proposals to the State last Fall.  The State has chosen its top four companies and will be issuing to those companies detailed specifications upon which they will base their bids within weeks. The four companies will submit their final bids this Fall and the State will select the company with which it will partner by the Spring of 2015. Construction of the Purple Line is scheduled to begin in mid-late 2015 after the concessionaire is chosen.

 In order for construction to begin next year, the State must acquire property and easements from hundreds of private owners along the planned right-of-way. Some properties will be acquired in their entirety. The State will require partial acquisitions or easements over other properties. But the State’s goal is to conclude the acquisition of the property rights it needs now, so construction may move forward without delay once the contractor is chosen and full funding, including matching federal funds, is obtained.

The first step in the acquisition process is for the State to have the property interests it requires valued by an independent appraiser. The State has engaged numerous appraisers to complete this work who are currently in the field inspecting and opining on the value of the owners’ properties. Once the appraisals are completed the State will offer to purchase the property rights needed and try to acquire the properties, or property interests, by agreement. If a negotiated purchase is not reached, the State will use its eminent domain authority and condemn the property rights it needs.

It is important for property owners to know that they do not have to accept the State’s offer. Often the State’s appraiser, and consequently the State’s offer of compensation, fails to consider important factors impacting a fair valuation of the property taken and damages caused to the remainder of property which is not taken. A property owner should carefully review the State’s appraisal to insure that the just compensation suggested by the appraiser fully captures the value of the property being taken and all damages caused to the remainder of the owner’s property, which is not being taken. Often a competent review will require the consultation of an independent appraiser chosen by the owner.

The eminent domain attorneys at Miller, Miller & Canby will review any offer made by the State without charge to determine whether we believe you may be entitled to greater compensation than has been offered by the State.  If you are interested in a no obligation review of your case, or if you have any questions about your rights or the condemnation process, please call our office at 301-762-5212 and ask to speak with one of our eminent domain attorneys, Jim Thompson or Joe Suntum.  Jim Thompson was named 2013 Lawyer of the Year in the Eminent Domain category by Best Lawyers and Joe Suntum is the Maryland representative member of the Owners’ Counsel of America—a respected national organization of eminent domain attorneys dedicated to protecting clients’ rights in condemnation.  For more information on Miller, Miller & Canby’s eminent domain practice and the firm’s representative eminent domain cases, please click here.  U.S. News – Best Lawyers® awarded Miller, Miller & Canby a First Tier ranking in the Washington, DC metropolitan area for Eminent Domain and Condemnation for 2014. Click here to read more.

View Related MM&C Purple Line Articles:
The Purple Line and You; Part I

The Purple Line and You; Part II: Eminent Domain

The Purple Line and You; Part III: Acquisition of Property

 





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