INSIGHTS: Articles

"Lessons From Md.'s Purple Line For Public-Private Contracts," Law360

In an article that published in Law360 on September 17, 2020, Laura Fraher discusses the importance of unambiguous contracts for major projects, like the Maryland Purple Line project, to reduce the risk of litigation.

“Public transportation is a critical part of a community’s infrastructure and can often create attractive opportunities for contractors to partner with government entities on large design and construction projects. To reduce the risk of litigation for these major projects, contracts should be drafted as clearly as possible, expressly defining what each party’s rights and responsibilities will be if an issue arises,” Fraher explains.

The Purple Line project is a 16.2-mile light rail line, currently under construction, that will link the Maryland suburbs of Bethesda, Silver Spring, College Park and New Carrollton, to the existing Washington Metro system. In this example that Fraher uses to describe the importance of clarity in contracts, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) entered into a public-private-partnership with private entity Purple Line Transit Partners, LLC (PLTP) and while it started as a win-win proposition, unanticipated costs, delays and contract disputes have arisen, resulting in litigation.

“This project is a clear illustration of the negative consequences of an ambiguous contract. Parties are cautioned to invest the necessary resources up front to carefully draft the contract to meet the project’s needs and the parties’ expectations. Such an investment can result in significant savings in the long run and minimize the risk of project failures,” said Fraher.

For the full article, subscribers to Law360 may click here.