Metro Requests Proposals to Build Regional Connector Project

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Metro took another step forward toward construction of the Regional Connector Project by issuing a Request for Proposals, or RFP, last week for the 1.9-mile underground light rail line through downtown Los Angeles.

The $1.367-billion project is partially funded with $160 million in Measure R money, and is considered one of the region’s most important transit projects. It will connect the Blue, Gold and Expo Lines in downtown and will create major north-south and east-west transit lines across Los Angeles County. Early utility relocation work officially began in December.

Contractors likely to bid on the project have already been pre-qualified by Metro during an earlier process completed in 2012.  Most are joint venture groups consisting of several construction-related firms. Click here to see a list.

As with the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project and the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the Regional Connector will be built using a “design-build” delivery method. This method is also being using to build the first 3.9-mile segment of the Westside Subway Extension from Wilshire/Western to La Cienega.

Major advantages of design-build are a shortened project schedule and overall reduced project costs. The builder is able to start construction while the design is still being completed.

Project proposers will have until May 21 of this year to submit their bids. Metro anticipates selecting a contractor in late fall or following word from the Federal Transit Administration on the status of Metro’s Full Funding Grant Agreement that asks for a federal match to build the project. That could happen by September

The project’s scheduled completion date is 2019.

Categories: Measure R, Projects

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16 replies

  1. average_joe,

    Six years to go two miles isn’t that bad. What’s bad is that it costs $1.367 billion to do this.

    At a certain point, you have to wonder where all the money is really being spent because spending close to one and a half billion to dig two miles is beyond ridiculous.

    And we all know that’s once done, it’s going to be way overbudget and will be a complete Mickey Mouse job.

  2. Daniel,

    Really? No need to be a wise guy. I find it ridiculous that in the 21st century with all its technology and advances it requires six years to go TWO miles. We are a country that put a man on the Moon, helped build an International Space Station, built ships, tank, and planes like it was nobody’s business in World War II, built the Hoover Dam in FIVE years, and we built Cheyenne Mountain in LESS time than that. But yet it takes SIX YEARS TO BUILD A TUNNEL THAT IS LESS THAN TWO MILES LONG! Am I wrong to be astounded or shocked? Are you saying that building a nuclear command and control bunker in Cheyenne Mountain that can withstand a 20 megaton nuclear blast one mile away is less daunting than a two mile municipal transit tunnel through a business district? Really?

    Singh,

    I don’t know. Everything now a days costs at least a billion dollars to make. I’m sure there is waste and some fraud in this project but hey what can we do?

  3. The real shame is that there isn’t funding to build the 5th/Flower station yet. We need to ensure it can still be built as an infill station later.

  4. average_joe

    I think we need to step back a little and get back to the basics: why is everything costing too much to build instead of taking the figures as a grain of salt. I think we’ve become too immune to these numbers provided by Metro because it’s just too big for the average person to envision.

    The high speed rail project is estimated to cost $100 billion and that’s linking San Francisco all the way to San Diego, and that’s inclusive construction and buying state of art bullet trains and building stations.

    Yet this 2 miles of underground digging is going to cost $1.4 billion. You have to wonder where all the money is being spent. In the end, those are our tax dollars so we do have a right to know why it costs so much just to dig a tunnel. Who knows? They maybe sticking $800 hammers and $1200 toilet seats there. Or they maybe sticking in outlandish Vegas trips or $10,000 per Metro employee benefits in there as business expenses.

    What we need is more clarity. Since most of this is just going back and forth between local politicians on the Metro Board asking Metro and Metro providing back reports to make them look good so that it gets approved, there’s really no clarity from the outside perspective that if Metro is even being honest or not. From a taxpayer perspective, this is dangerous because we have absolutely no idea what’s going on or to know if they are using our tax funds correctly or not.

    I say we need to look at bringing in third party independent analysts and auditors who specialize in these fields to find waste and dishonest practices that may or may not be going on. That’s what most companies do. They hire outside consultants like Deloitte & Touche and PwC to dissect and find where all the waste are happening.

  5. O Singh made an excellent point. There is something we can do.

    I also think the way things are handled both by politicians and by Metro are very inefficient and leads to a lot of waste in both time and money especially when that money is our tax dollars.

    Spending $1.4 billion in digging two miles of track, the mess shown from the bureaucracy chart, the red tape to cut just to install TVM machines, the ridiculousness of TAP implementation, and the absurdity of justifying the FasTrak account maintenance fees are all fine example of this.

    Times are tough and I think it’s time to look at allocating some of the budget to hiring financial advisors. For the corporate world, that usually means hiring consultants and advisors as O Singh mentioned.

    It’s usually the little things that add up to waste. They could be spending $50,000 a year in using premium Starbucks coffee in their office spaces at One Gateway Plaza. They could be flying first class, staying at top end Hiltons or having a $300 a day in per diem policy when they go to transit conferences.

    Maybe they’re using 20 lbs paper instead of 18 lbs paper for the copy machine. Maybe they’re still using incandescent light bulbs in majority of Metro owned properties when they could save electricity costs by converting to LEDs and fluorescent lights.

    Maybe they’re spending $100,000 a year in batteries when they can buy rechargeable ones. Maybe they’re stocking Coca-Cola in their vending machines when they can go with private label ones. Maybe they’re still doing things the old fashioned way by sending out checks through snail-mail instead of doing everything online.

    Maybe employees are making personal phone calls on their taxpayer issued cell phones. Maybe employees are using Metro vehicles for personal use. Maybe the white collar government employees working at Metro are being overpaid to their corporate counterparts.

    All of these add up millions and billions in tax payer dollars that can be saved.

    As taxpayers, we have a right to know where the money being wasted, what cost savings measures can be done and stuff like these usually takes someone from the outside to shake the excess fat off of these things.

    So I am going to do what O Singh suggested. I’m going to write a letter to my elected officials and see if they can file a motion to hire outside consultants to find and eradicate some of the waste Metro might be doing and see if the can pump in some fresh ideas to streamline the whole process so that things can be made more efficiently with reduced government spending.

    I think everyone should do the same and write to their elected officials, especially those that serve on the Metro Board.

    • Hi CJ;

      Just so you understand the process: The Metro Board of Directors, which is made up of elected officials or their appointees, are the ones who have the final say on contracts issued by Metro.

      The contracts are on each month’s Board agenda. The staff reports explain the contracts and why they’re needed, although I know they may not explain it to your satisfaction.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  6. Downtown Los Angeles is one of the most complicated places in America to build a new subway. There are lots of existing tunnels, building foundations, etc. Tens of thousands of people drive through. Hundreds of thousands of people work there. One mis-step building it and the same people who are howling about the expense will be screaming about how could Metro do this. A similar length subway extension in New York is costing even more.

  7. Steve Hymon,

    Yes, I understand the process. However, I think it still stands to have some sort of independent review that’s just not go back and forth between Metro Board politicians or Metro.

    For something like that says “we need a budget of $50,000 a year to stock coffee at Metro headquarters,” most politicians I believe will just take that as a grain of salt since they’re used to seeing numbers like millions and billions. There’s no clarity there if it’s that’s the price of premium Starbucks coffee or if financial consultants can reduce that to $500 a year by buying Folgers instant coffee by the bulk at Costco instead and re-direct $49,500 back into operational costs or much needed projects.

    • Hi CJ;

      Where are you getting your numbers about coffee at Metro? Or are you writing hypothetically?

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  8. It’s a hypothetical example, your guess is good as mine and perhaps you can chime me in on what goes on in the corporate culture at One Gateway Plaza.

    But it is to my assumption that Metro, as with any other companies, has wasteful spending in areas where it takes outside consultants to point out where they can make cut backs. And funds like these all being tax dollars, it’s much more important to do so.

    You know, things like using 1-ply toilet paper for the restroom instead of Charmin, installing low-flo toilets to save on water bills, inkjet printers and toners, coffee, etc. etc.

    Perhaps three people are doing redundant jobs when it can be done with one person. That can cut back labor costs by a third.

    All of these may not sound much, but a lot of companies do this because when added all up they save millions, if not billions per year so that funds can be re-focused towards more important projects. What can’t be seen with the back-and-forth reports between Metro Board and Metro is if any, cost savings measures like these are applied.

    If anything, these things or it could be others that are adding to the cost of projects done.

    It takes an outsider, a professional financial advisors and consultants to look into these things which neither the Metro Board or Metro has the time to do so. A budget can be made for 10 porta-pottys at construction sites when 2 is enough.

    For anyone knows, Metro could be issuing a budget for $50,000 premium coffee, the board could be rubber stamping it because it’s such a “low-figure”, and no one, even taxpayers, would be aware of it. Unless you can chime in what you guys use for coffee or toilet paper, etc.

    Since tax payers don’t know what’s the corporate culture is like at Metro, It takes outside consultants could point out that’s a place they can cut back on. If they are, that’s inexcusable because those expenses are in the end, all paid for with tax dollars.

    • That’s fine. I just wanted to point out to readers that you were making up examples and that the numbers and examples you provide aren’t based in fact — it’s basically just idle speculation that the agency is somehow enormously wasteful.

      If you want to know what it’s like inside the Metro building, here goes: it’s your basic office environment with many cubicles, small-ish offices and very basic furniture. It’s neither spartan nor is it luxurious. The bathrooms are clean. Not sure about the TP situation but I’ll ask around. I do frequently take photos from the upper floors because of the great views of the region and I can tell you the windows are only rarely washed as a money-saving measure.

      I don’t believe Metro pays for coffee for employees; if so, I’ve been missing out. There is coffee and soda available in the cafeteria for $1.50 or so per cup.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  9. Thanks.

    It would be nice if you can start doing articles about working at One Gateway Plaza. That way you can close the distance gap between the readers (tax payers).

    Stuff like showing photos of how everyone is using their own coffee cups instead of styrofoam cups for coffee or what car they use to drive to work, how do you guys travel when you have to go to business meetings (surely you must use Amtrak if you have a conference in San Diego right?) goes a long way to show you guys really mean what you say. Pictures tell a lot of words than reports and words.

    • Hi CJ;

      With all due respect, that’s ridiculous. I’m not wasting my time and your taxpayer money on taking photos of people bringing their own coffee cups to work — which you would then accuse of being staged. Have a pleasant evening,

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  10. Wanderer mentioned the cost being high because of the difficulties of existing buildings etc. which I was going to mention but there is one other really major thing that needs to be mentioned in underground construction here in California…earthquake safety. They could take ten years to build this project just so long as I know the stuff overhead isn’t going to cave in on me when we start rocking and rolling.
    Cheers!