Maryland has picked its private partner for the multi-billion dollar Purple Line light rail project in the northern suburbs of Washington.

DALLAS -- A team of private companies operating as Purple Line Transit Partners has been selected as Maryland's partner in financing, building, and running the multi-billion dollar Purple Line light rail project in the northern suburbs of Washington, D.C., Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday.

Hogan directed the state to proceed with procuring the 16-mile rail line, which would be built within the Capital Beltway. He halted progress on the project last year to seek cost cuts and secure more local funding.

"After eight months of hard work and tough negotiating, the Maryland Department of Transportation has met all the needed requirements and delivered a cost-effective Purple Line with a strong commitment from our federal, county, and private partners," Hogan said.

The state was able to reduce its overall costs during the 36-year life of the P3 agreement by more than $550 million, resulting in a total cost to the state of about $3.3 billion.

If the private partner's bid is approved by the state's Board of Public Works at its April meeting, the Purple Line contract would be one of the largest government construction pacts awarded in Maryland, Hogan said.

The financial closing is expected in early June, after the contract is reviewed by the General Assembly's budget committee.

Construction costs for the project have been expected to total $2.16 billion. Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn declined to provide an updated estimate during a conference call with reporters.

Purple Line Transit Partners includes Meridiam Infrastructure Purple Line, Fluor Enterprises, and Star America Fund, with Fluor as lead partner.

Four teams were short-listed by the Maryland Transit Authority in January 2015 with all four submitting technical and financial proposals in November for the P3 contract.

The state's upfront expenditure for initial construction costs will total $159.8 million, less than the $168 million threshold set by Hogan last year. The annual availability payments will average $149 million per year over 30 years, down from the $167 million per year that the state had expected.

The availability payments will cover the state's share of financing, operating, and maintaining the rail system, as well as future capital repairs and replacements.

Fare collections on the system over the three decades covered by the P3 proposal are expected to total $1.36 billion.

Ridership on the line is expected to average 58,800 trips per day, not including University of Maryland students and special events.

The Purple Line would stretch from Bethesda in Montgomery County to New Carrollton in Prince George's County. It would include 21 stations and would connect with the Metrorail system operated by Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority as well as Amtrak's passenger rail service.

Montgomery and Prince George's counties will contribute a total of $330 million to the rail project. The federal government has pledged $900 million to help build the system, of which $325 million has been appropriated. President Obama's fiscal 2017 budget would provide another $125 million for the Purple Line.

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