The Maryland Transit Administration has extended its deadline for Purple Line bids to give Gov.-elect Larry Hogan more time to assess the project, which he previously has criticized as too expensive.
Paul Shepard, an MTA spokesman, said the extension from Jan. 9 to March 12 was a courtesy to the incoming governor and his administration and does not change the timeline for the light-rail project, which would break ground next year if allowed to go forward.
"It's a complex process and a complex project, and we would like the incoming administration to have all of the information it needs," Shepard said.
Hogan, a Republican, takes office Jan. 21 after winning the election on a promise to cut taxes. The $2.4 billion Purple Line through the Washington suburbs and the $2.9 billion Red Line light-rail project through Baltimore came to life in part through a hike in the state gasoline tax under the administration of Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat.
Both projects have attracted substantial local, state and federal funds and moved through several planning and design phases, but they have become less certain since Hogan's victory.
Hogan has in the past said state highways and roads need more attention, and that both of the proposed transit lines are too expensive to build at the moment — though he hedged his criticism as the Nov. 4 election neared.
Hogan's office did not respond to multiple requests for comment Wednesday. He has said little about either transit line since his victory.
Four investment teams have been working for nearly a year on highly technical proposals to build the Purple Line and then operate and maintain it for 35 years under a public-private partnership.
The winning team is expected to contribute $500 million to $900 million to the project. Teams with losing bids will be compensated up to $2 million each for putting together proposals. The provision was designed to attract more bids.
The MTA informed the four teams of the new March 12 deadline last week, Shepard said, though it had previously told them an extension was likely.