Digest: Maryland set to take over management of Purple Line construction

News Wire Digest for Aug. 10: North Carolina resumes one 'Piedmont' round trip; MBTA names new safety officer
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Monday morning rail news:

Maryland set to take over Purple Line construction

The state of Maryland will take over management of the troubled Purple Line light rail construction project if the current public-private partnership is dissolved, state transit officials said last week in a letter to subcontractors. The consortium that has been managing the project said in June it would quit the project over ongoing disputes on cost overruns [see “Builders file plan to dissolve partnership …,” News Wire Digest, June 24, 2020], and the Washington Post reports it has begun preparing to shut down work on the project. A letter to the 171 subcontractors said the state would “exercise its step-in rights” to manage the project while the state “pursues its rights and remedies” in the ongoing dispute over what the consortium says are $755 million in overruns stemming from 2½ years of delays, many reflecting lawsuits attempting to stop the project or redesign work. The Maryland Transit Administration and the Purple Line Transit Contractors face an Aug. 22 deadline to reach an agreement.

One 'Piedmont' round trip resumes today
As of today, the North Carolina Department of Transportation is restoring one daily round trip of its Piedmont service between Raleigh and Charlotte. Resuming operation will be train No. 73, which leaves Raleigh at 6:30 a.m. and arrives in Charlotte at 9:40 a.m., and train No. 76, which leaves Charlotte at 3:15 p.m. and arrives in Raleigh at 6:26 p.m. The Piedmont service offered three daily roundtrips before being suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The route is also served by Amtrak’s New York-Charlotte Carolinian.

Long-time CTA staffer named as new MBTA safety officer
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has named Ronald L. Ester Jr. as chief safety officer. He comes to the MBTA from the Chicago Transit Authority, where he spent 28 years in positions including chief safety and security officer, vice president-rail operations and capital projects oversight, and vice president-rail operations/communication-power control.MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said in a press release, “Ron has walked in the shoes of both the Chief Safety Officer and transit operations. This unique blend of experience will serve the MBTA well and help us deliver a best-in-class safety program.” Ester joins an agency with significant safety issues, according to a highly critical report issued last year in the wake of several operating incidents [see “Panel’s report says ‘safety is not a priority’ at MBTA,” Trains News Wire, Dec. 10, 2019]. Joseph Aiello, chairman of the Fiscal and Management Control Board, which oversees the MBTA, said, “Ron will bring to the T his knowledge of transit safety and accountability, and will work diligently to address the issues identified in last year’s Safety Panel Report.”


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