The US state of Maryland has approved a contract modification that selects Maryland Transit Solutions (MTS) as the new design-build team to complete the Purple Line light rail project.

The move comes more than two months after MTS won the contract from Purple Line Transit Partners (PLTP)  to finish the 16.2-mile-long light rail line following a competitive process.

MTS comprises Dragados USA and OHL USA.

The new design-build team was confirmed by approving a modification to the Purple Line public-private partnership agreement (P3 Agreement).

According to a Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) statement, the modification was approved unanimously by the department as well as the Maryland Board of Public Works (BPW), MDOT Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA), and PLTP.

The design-build cost has also jumped from $2bn to $3.4bn due to an increase in material costs and other challenges in the post-pandemic market.

MDOT MTA administrator Holly Arnold said: “Today’s action is the critical step needed to move the Purple Line from construction into an active light rail line that creates a truly interconnected regional transit system.”

Comprising 21 stations, the Purple Line will run between New Carrollton in Prince George’s County and Bethesda in Montgomery County.

The $9.284bn modified P3 Agreement now includes the $3.4bn design-build cost, expenses for Purple Line Transit operators to run and maintain the project for a 30-year period, overall project management by PLTP, and debt and equity repayment by MDOT.

MTS plans to start full-scale construction on the project in spring 2022, with commissioning scheduled in fall 2026.

The Purple Line project, which is expected to create more than 6,000 jobs during construction phase, was initially planned for completion in March 2022.

PLTP directors board chairman Jane Garvey said: “Since we and MDOT MTA selected Maryland Transit Solutions as providing the best value to the people of Maryland, we’ve been working closely with MTS to help them hit the ground running.

“We’re very pleased to resume major construction so the Purple Line can begin serving Maryland travellers as soon as possible.”