With June ground-breaking the target, Gold Line Foothill Extension asks for construction bids

A rendering of the Arcadia Station for the Gold Line Foothill Extension

A rendering of the Arcadia Station for the Gold Line Foothill Extension

Officials with the Gold Line Foothill Extension light rail project are aiming to break ground on the Pasadena-to-Azusa line this year and took a step forward last Thursday by announcing that they are seeking bids from construction firms to work on the project.

Their plan is to break ground on a bridge over the 210 freeway in June (the bridge takes the tracks from the middle of the freeway to its south side toward downtown Arcadia) and then the rest of the line in September.

The Foothill Extension is due to receive $851 million in Measure R sales tax funds and Foothill officials want to get the line built and open by 2013. This is where it gets a little tricky. Under Measure R, money would flow to the project over the next several years and the line would open in 2017.

But Foothill officials are trying to speed that process by striking a financing deal with construction firms and repaying them later with Measure R receipts. The idea is that it will cost less to build the line now than it will later and, besides, the planning process is complete.

The Metro Board of Directors agreed in October to begin operating the line in 2013 if it’s done. Toward that end, Metro and the Foothill Extension Construction Authority — an independent agency created to build the project – have to sign on on something called a “funding transfer agreement” and a “master cooperative agreement.” That’s basically a fancy way of saying Metro and the Authority have to agree on how and when Measure R funds will be dispatched to the project.

So far it sounds like negotiations between the two agencies are going well, judging from the press release posted after the jump. And both Foothill Extension CEO Habib Balian and Metro Board of Directors Chair Ara Najarian sounded as if they were on the same page in a story published Saturday in the Pasadena Star News.

Here is the news release from the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority:

Monrovia, CA (January 29, 2010) – At its January 28, 2010 Board meeting, the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority Board of Directors issued the following two bid packages, seeking design-build-finance teams to construct Phase 2A (Pasadena to Azusa):  (1) the Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Iconic Freeway Structure project and (2) the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for the Phase 2A Alignment project. These actions keep the Foothill Extension on schedule to break ground in June 2010 and be completed to Azusa in 2013.

The first project to break ground in June will be the Iconic Freeway Structure – a 584-foot bridge stretching diagonally across the 210 Freeway, connecting the existing Sierra Madre Villa Station (built in the freeway’s median) with the future Arcadia station south of the freeway.  In November 2009, the Construction Authority completed the first step in the procurement process, by pre-qualifying six teams to compete to build the IFS. The RFP is the second step in the process. Proposals are due in late March and a contract will be awarded in May.

The Phase 2A Alignment Design-Build project will break ground in September 2010 and include construction of the track, stations, crossings, bridges, utility systems, signals and a maintenance and operations facility. The RFQ is the first of the two-step procurement process, and will result in a list of pre-qualified teams. The Authority will then issue a RFP in late April to these teams only, and award a contract in September.

The two design-build bid packages were issued in advance of the Fund Transfer Agreement and Master Cooperative Agreement being considered at the Metro and Construction Authority Board meetings next month. The agencies have been meeting regularly over the last few months and negotiations over the terms of these critical agreements are going well.

“The Construction Authority is very pleased with the progress we are making with Metro,” said Construction Authority Board Chairman Keith Hanks. “Both agencies are committed to finding solutions so the project can get underway. With that, the board felt confident to issue the bid packages to keep us on schedule for June.”

According to a study produced by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation earlier this month, Phase 2A (Pasadena to Azusa) will generate nearly $1 billion in business revenues, $40 million in tax revenues, and create nearly 7,000 new jobs for the region during project construction alone.

“The impact of the Foothill Extension project will be immediate and long-term,” said Habib F. Balian, Chief Executive Officer for the Construction Authority. “By moving forward with procurement, we are transforming the San Gabriel Valley for future generations and also creating real jobs and economic benefits that are needed today more than ever.”

Information on the bid packages is available on the Construction Authority web site http://www.metrogoldline.org under “Business Opportunities.”