MDOT AGREES TO $250M SETTLEMENT ON PURPLE LINE: The Maryland Department of Transportation has agreed to pay $250 million to settle a dispute over cost overruns that caused the construction contractor to quit the Purple Line light rail project in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in September, Colin Campbell reports in the Sun.
- The settlement funds, if approved by the state Board of Public Works, will be paid to the third firm in the consortium, Texas-based Fluor Corp., which would exit the partnership, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports.
- The public-private partnership project will proceed with two contractors — Meridiam and Start America — as developers and equity partners. Fluor will not be proceeding with the project and was the only contractor of the three companies which was under PLTC, which brought the complaints, Briana Adhikusuma reports for Bethesda Beat.
- The deal revives one of Gov. Larry Hogan’s signature transportation projects and a public-private partnership that imploded in September following three years of cost disputes. The Purple Line is one of the first U.S. transit projects to rely on private financing, Katherine Shaver of the Post reports.
- The parties have agreed to put all claims and litigation on hold pending BPW review of the settlement agreement, according to a statement from the Maryland Department of Transportation, the Daily Record reports.
CHISHOLM: HOGAN MEASURE MEANS BUSINESS VS. BUSINESS: Del. Brian Chisholm (R-Anne Arundel) said Gov. Larry Hogan’s recent decision to have the Maryland State Police expand a 24/7 hotline in which COVID-related restriction violations can be reported will encourage both neighbors and business owners to turn on each other, Bryan Renbaum of MarylandReporter is reporting.
COVID APP TARGETS CONTACT TRACING CHALLENGES: “Answer the call” and download the COVID Alert app have joined the growing list of pandemic precautions, such as wearing a mask and social distancing, as the Maryland Health Department battles a pandemic surge during this holiday season, Philip Van Slooten of Capital News Service reports in MarylandReporter.
COVID CASES CONTINUE TO SURGE: With the coronavirus pandemic and hospitalizations surging across Maryland, the state reported 1,667 new coronavirus cases Tuesday along with 32 deaths tied to COVID-19, the most reported in one day since mid-June, Ben Leonard of the Sun reports.
- The fifth Carroll countian to die of COVID-19 in eight days was an elder care resident, another casualty of a pandemic that hits the older population hardest, Bob Blubaugh of the Carroll County Times writes.
- As of Tuesday, Nov. 24, Caroline County showed a cumulative total of 890 COVID-19 cases since March, with 712 having since recovered, and a seven-day positivity rate of 6.9%. Ten local residents have died from the virus, Angela Price reports for the Easton Star Democrat.
COUNTY PRECAUTIONS: Montgomery County’s health officer on Tuesday released a new order that reduces the maximum limit on indoor gatherings from 25 to 10, Briana Adhikusuma of Bethesda Beat reports. Residents will also be required to wear face coverings outdoors “when they are likely to come into contact with another person, such as being within six feet of another person for more than a fleeting time.” Face coverings are already required in public places indoors.
- As COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths reached new highs in Washington County Tuesday, health leaders urged everyone to follow safe practices, Mike Lewis of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports.
B’MORE MUSEUMS TO CLOSE: Many Baltimore museums that had reopened in September with safety precautions in place are shutting down again, Ethan McLeod of the Baltimore Business Journal reports.
- The Baltimore Museum of Art and the Walters Art Museum on Wednesday will temporarily close most of their galleries to the public due to rising numbers of coronavirus cases in Maryland and across the United States, Marcus Dieterle of Baltimore Fishbowl reports.
COURTS TO FURTHER RESTRICT IN-PERSON HEARINGS: The Maryland Judiciary, which suspended jury trials two weeks ago, is further restricting courtroom operations amid calls from the Office of the Public Defender to postpone more court appearances as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to rise across the country, Colin Campbell reports in the Sun.
- After Maryland recently stopped scheduling jury trials amid a nationwide surge in coronavirus infections, the state’s chief public defender says lawyers, clients and others remain at risk of catching the virus because some courts are still holding in-person hearings that amount to “superspreader events,” Paul Duggan of the Post reports.
CARROLL SAYS IT’s DOING WELL: Despite Carroll County COVID-19 numbers “going crazy” and the governor calling for enhanced enforcement of coronavirus restrictions, Health Officer Ed Singer said Tuesday that compliance isn’t a major issue for Carroll County, reports Bob Blubaugh for the Carroll County Times. “The governor said there was going to be an enhanced presence everywhere. However, I think we’ve been doing a really good job,” Singer said.
HOTEL ASSOC. URGES STATE AID FOR MEMBERS: The head of Maryland’s hotel association said a large number of its members will not recover from the coronavirus pandemic if the state does not provide more direct relief now, Hallie Miller of the Sun reports.
McDANIEL ENDS SEMESTER WITH FEW COVID CASES: While some colleges or universities were forced to cease hybrid learning, close campuses and have a virtual fall semester, McDaniel College completed the semester with fewer than 30 COVID-19 cases and zero in-classroom transmissions. Students are finishing their finals and headed home this week, Kristen Griffith of the Carroll County Times reports.
HIGH INTEREST IN SEEKING DEL. MOSBY’s SEAT: Elizabeth Shwe of Maryland Matters writes that Baltimore City Council President-elect Nick J. Mosby (D) will be sworn in on Dec. 10, which means that his seat representing District 40 in the Maryland House of Delegates will soon be vacant. At least six Baltimoreans said they plan to apply for the seat, which is the most interest that the city delegation has seen for a vacant seat in a long time, district Sen. Antonio L. Hayes (D) says.
FUTURE OF TRONE, DELANEY: Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters speculates about the future political and/or business plans of two of Maryland’s wealthiest politicians – U.S. Rep. David Trone and his predecessor, John Delaney, who also ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in the last cycle.
- Delaney wrote an op-ed in the Post suggesting that we pay Americans to take the coronavirus vaccine to encourage its use.
JUDGE CHALLENGER WINS POST: Prince George’s County has finished counting all the ballots from this month’s election, with the biggest shake-up coming in the race for Circuit Court judge. April Ademiluyi took the fifth and final judge post with 206,096 votes, according to results posted Friday by the Prince George’s County Board of Elections, William Ford reports for the Washington Informer. Incumbent Michael Jared McCarthy came in last place with 200,918 votes.