Six months after state, local and federal officials came together to break ground on the Purple Line, leaders of the project came to the County Council as part of a regular update, but also to make a major announcement – a new CEO.
Purple Line Transit Partners, the public-private partnership group leading the construction of the 16-mile light rail line that will connect Metro stops in New Carrolton to Bethesda, announced Alfred Craig has taken over as its new CEO.
“The cooperation you afford us here is real extraordinary and appreciated and I can’t thank you enough for that – I hope that continues,” Craig told the Montgomery County Council Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee. “If we fail you in any way, I hope you call me directly because I’m not one who needs to be handled with kid gloves, I hope you tell me if we had something that was afoot.”
Craig has now taken over for former Purple Line Transit Partners CEO Rob Chappell fewer than six months after construction crews broke ground on the $2 billion project. Craig previously worked in other public-private partnerships including the Cincinnati Streetcar and the South Capital Street reconstruction program.
Craig, who has been Purple Line Transit Partners CEO for the last four weeks, but not officially announced as such until last week, said he would deliver the project that was originally promised to the community.
“My job is to make sure that this project get delivered in a way that everyone was promised; financially, from an appearance standpoint, from a safety standpoint and probably most importantly from a community standpoint and making sure that this community gets what it expected,” Craig said.
As his first public act as CEO, Craig updated the T & E Committee on the first six months of construction of the Purple Line, which is still in the early stages of construction as crews have been clearing trees and building erosion control installations. In Bethesda, crews have begun pouring concrete as a foundation for the tower crane that is going to help build the South Bethesda Station.
Craig said the design of vehicle for the Purple Line is 80 percent completed, with parts being constructed in Spain and will be assembled in New York. The vehicles will have wheel skirts to reduce noise and vibrations, Craig said.
Construction of the Purple Line, some of which will take place in the more urban areas of Bethesda and Silver Spring, will disrupt small businesses, as construction crews will slowly take up space on many streets to build the railway. Craig said he would try to accommodate the small businesses that will be inconvenienced by the construction.
Council member Roger Berliner (D-at large) said it would be the state’s job to compensate small businesses that are disrupted during construction of the Purple Line.
“You’re obviously right that this is going to be disruptive,” Berliner said. “There’s only so much that you can do, many of us are hoping that the state does in fact pick up the slack, when it is inevitable that there’s an impact on small businesses, that the state will compensate small business for that.”