Metro Board approves $1.6-billion contract to construct first phase of the Purple Line Extension subway

project_map

After a long discussion, the Metro Board of Directors voted 9 to 3 to approve a $1.6-billion contract with Skanska, Traylor and Shea, a Joint Venture (STS), on Thursday morning to construct the 3.9-mile first phase of the Purple Line Extension subway. The first phase — with a total budget of $2.7 billion — is currently forecast to open in 2023.

No votes were from Metro Board Members Michael Antonovich, Don Knabe and Mark Ridley-Thomas. Board Member Gloria Molina was absent for the vote.

The contract approval was a key step forward for one of the cornerstone projects to be funded in part by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008. A $1.25-billion federal New Starts grant is also paying for the project.

The extension will push the subway from its current terminus at Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue to Wilshire and La Cienega Boulevard in Beverly Hills. Three new stations will be constructed at Wilshire/La Brea, Wilshire/Fairfax and Wilshire/La Cienega.

The procurement process began in June 2013; details are in the above Metro staff report. Three firms bid on the contract. Proposals were evaluated based on project management, technical approach and price. There was considerable discussion by the Metro Board on the issue of how the bids were evaluated and the weight that should — or should not — be given to price.

The two firms that did not win the contract have filed protests with Metro. The Board is allowed to award the contract pending the timely resolution of the protests.

Metro staff noted that while the Skanska, Traylor and Shea bid was the most expensive bid by almost $193 million, Metro staff also believes “this team offers best opportunity to deliver the project on time and on budget” — a promise reiterated by the winning bidder’s future project manager. The companies involved have also worked on the second phase of the Expo Line, the Gold Line Foothill Extension and the city of Los Angeles’ North East Interceptor Sewer tunnel.

Metro Board Member Don Knabe said that $192.5 million was too much “to leave on the table” without getting more information on the bids and the protests. Other Board Members indicated that they had faith in the agency’s technical evaluations and/or they did not want to potentially delay the project by taking too long to approve a construction contract.

Utility relocations for the Purple Line Extension’s have been underway since last year. The most recent construction timeline is below. The timeline assumes that the cities of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills grant Metro the work hours that it needs.

227897785-Purple-Line-Extension-May-2014-presentation

Metro continues to explore ways to accelerate the second phase to Century City and third phase to Westwood via America Fast Forward, which would increase federal funding for transit if Congress were to embrace the entire concept and fully fund it. Metro is also exploring a possible ballot measure in 2016 that could potentially accelerate Measure R projects.

Metro already has an unprecedented four rail projects under construction: the six-mile second phase of the Expo Line between Culver City and downtown Santa Monica, the 11.5-mile Gold Line Foothill Extension between eastern Pasadena and the Azusa/Glendora border, the 8.5-mile Crenshaw/LAX Line between the Expo Line and Green Line and the 1.9-mile Regional Connector that will connect the Blue, Expo and Gold Lines in downtown Los Angeles. All four projects are receiving funding from Measure R.

 

In remarks, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti outlines his goals as Metro Board Chair

Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti delivering his remarks on Thursday morning. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti delivering his remarks on Thursday morning. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

As noted earlier, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is the Chair of the Metro Board of Directors for the next year. At the start of today’s Board meeting, Garcetti briefly outlined his goals as Board Chair. Here are some highlights from his comments.

•”When you’re talking about transportation, the top priority has to be reducing traffic.   Traffic, especially in Los Angeles, defines our lives. It keeps us from being with our loved ones and enjoying life’s daily moments. But it’s equally important that we provide good service for our customers and build for the future.

“The only way we can do that well is by working together as a region. We all know that traffic doesn’t care about borders. And none of us can serve our constituents well if we only care about what happens inside our city limits.”

•”How we do that? Innovation and technology. That’s not only the obvious things — like having cell service in our stations or creating an app where riders can load their tap cards on their phones so they don’t have to wait in line at the ticket machine.”

•”We must always be looking at where there is new demand and build projects in our most heavily traveled corridors. We must complete projects like the Exposition line all the way to Santa Monica. We must plan to build the Gold Line extension to Claremont. We must improve service between the San Fernando Valley and the Westside. We must make sure the Blue Line is fixed, and our highest [ridership] rail line runs like it once did. And we must find a way to open the train to the planes by the time the Crenshaw Line starts running.”

•”I’m committed to keeping the momentum going on our construction projects — and making sure they’re done on time and on budget. We cannot repeat the cost overruns and sinkholes of the 1990s.

“When I became Mayor, I was told the new lane on the 405 project wouldn’t be open until the fall. So I called an old friend, Nick Patsaouras, and asked him to volunteer his time and talents to get it done sooner. He came through big for us. As Chair, I am calling on him to now lend his expertise and provide construction oversight of the Crenshaw Line.”

•”Over the last year, we were successful in securing over three billion dollars from the federal government. I’m confident that success will continue if we work together across the region to get our fair share from Washington and Sacramento. But we also need to think creatively about public-private partnerships and innovative financing. People are impatient, people can’t wait.”

Metro Board of Directors July meeting about to begin

Good morning, readers and riders! The gavel will shortly drop on the July meeting of the Metro Board of Directors. This will be the first full Board meeting with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti serving as the Board Chair; he assumed the role on July 1 and will be the Chair through next June. The Chairmanship is filled on a rotating basis among the 13 Board Members.

The agenda for today’s meeting is above. Among the items scheduled to be discussed are a $1.6-billion contract to build the first phase of the Purple Line Extension, motions to study upgrading the Orange Line and installing ExpressLanes on part of the 105 freeway and Metro’s short-range transportation plan, among others.

You can listen to the meeting live stream here. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. You can also listen over the phone by dialing 213-922-6045 although capacity is limited.

As per usual I’ll update the blog and Metro’s general Twitter account with any interestingness as it occurs.

Connect US seeks to better link Union Station to neighborhoods via new esplanades and bike paths

As most of you likely know, Metro has been developing the Union Station Master Plan to preserve the historic train depot while also renovating it and redeveloping parts of the 40-acre campus as use of the station continues to grow.

A companion study has been looking at an equally important issue: better linking Union Station by foot and bike to surrounding neighborhoods. Union Station sits on the far northern end of downtown Los Angeles and, at present, it’s often not terribly pleasant to reach via sidewalk or bike.

The linkages study — called Connect US — seeks to remedy that by recommending 13 separate projects totaling $50 million to $60 million in costs that would create a series of corridors that walkers and cyclists could use between Union Station and the Regional Connector’s 1st/Central Station and surrounding neighborhoods. Among those communities: Chinatown, Boyle Heights, Little Tokyo, the Civic Center and the Arts District.

A PowerPoint of the study’s recommendations, presented by community members last Thursday at a City Hall event, is posted above. As you scroll through, there are a series of maps and renderings that provide an idea of the scope of the project.

Among the improvements: an esplanade between the entrance to Union Station that would reach across Alameda Street to El Pueblo de Los Angeles and Olvera Street; new esplanades with expanded sidewalks and protected bike lanes along Los Angeles Street, Alameda Street and North Broadway (which would sit on the bluff above Los Angeles State Historic Park), and; add bike lanes (some protected) and sidewalk and street improvements to other key streets such as 1st Street, 3rd Street and Santa Fe and Alpine.

Metro is helping to plan the improvements, which will largely be undertaken by the city of Los Angeles (the city oversees downtown streets). The project has been separated into a series of smaller projects, the idea being that each project can be done when funding becomes available, a nod to the realities of transportation funding.

The final speaker at last Thursday’s event was Gil Penalosa, the well-known former parks chief in Bogata, Colombia, and who now heads up 8-80 Cities, a nonprofit that advocates for parks, bike lanes, pedestrians and making cities more vibrant and sustainable — the kind of things people usually like in cities. As he made clear, the Connect US plan would not only help improve mobility in downtown but would make L.A. more like other well-known cities across the globe that are walk- and bike-friendly and that people love to visit.

Gil Penalosa speaking at last Thursday's event unveiling of the Connect US plan at Los Angeles City Hall. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Gil Penalosa speaking at last Thursday’s event unveiling of the Connect US plan at Los Angeles City Hall. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Motorists and the general public have options for accessing LAX during Century Crunch, July 25-28

map_crenshawlax_detour_8.5x11

This is it, folks. The intersection of Aviation and Century boulevards closes tonight at 9 p.m. and will remain closed until 6 a.m. Monday in order to demolish an old railroad bridge to make way for the Crenshaw/LAX Line.

Those headed to Los Angeles International Airport this weekend should either take the Flyaway Bus, transit or use Sepulveda Boulevard to access the airport if driving — and allow for extra time. The above detour will be in effect all weekend.

Some other tips:

Southern California 511 has launched a new feature to keep drivers up to date during the planned Century Crunch closure scheduled July 25 to 28. To access the real-time traffic information, call 511 and say “Century Crunch” after the automated greeting. You will get info on the intersection closure and learn recommended detour routes. Or say “traffic” to receive frequently updated traffic information on nearby roadways that feed into the LAX area.

•The FlyAway bus offers bus service to and from LAX terminals from six locations: Union Station, the Expo/La Brea station, Westwood, Santa Monica, Hollywood and Van Nuys. Please see the FlyAway website for more information on fares and schedules.

•A free shuttle runs between the Metro Green Line’s Aviation station and the LAX terminals.

metro-map-green-line

•Metro Bus lines serving the airport include Lines 102, 111, 117, and 232.  These lines all terminate at the LAX City Bus Center on 96th Street just east of Sepulveda Boulevard. After getting off your bus, walk a short distance to the west end of the LAX City Bus Center and cross over to the LAX Parking Lot C depot where you catch the free “C” LAX shuttle bus to the LAX airline terminals. Line 102 serves Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Stocker Street, and La Tijera Boulevard. Line 111 serves Florence Avenue and Arbor Vitae Street. Line 117 serves Century Boulevard (click here for info on the 117’s detour route), and Line 232 serves Pacific Coast Highway and Sepulveda Boulevard south of LAX.

•Municipal bus providers with service to LAX include Beach Cities Transit Line 109,Santa Monica Big Blue Bus Line 3, Culver City Line 6 and Torrance Transit Line 8.  All four lines serve the LAX City Bus Center. Beach Cities, Big Blue Bus, and Culver City also serve the Metro Aviation/LAX Green Line Station.

The bus lines that will be affected by the Century Boulevard closure are the Metro Line 40 owl service, Santa Monica Big Blue Bus Line 3, Culver City Bus Line 6 and Beach City Transit Line 109.  On the weekend of July 25 to 27, bus service on these lines will follow recommended detours through the area.

We’ll be updating The Source throughout the weekend with information about traffic and the demolition process.

The latest news release from Metro is posted after the jump:

Continue reading

Use 511 to avoid Century Crunch traffic this weekend

14005914783_27af7803b2_o

Southern California 511 has launched a new feature to keep drivers up to date during the planned Century Crunch closure scheduled July 25 to 28.

Century Crunch will see Century Boulevard, one of the main access roads to the airport, closed to traffic at the Aviation Boulevard intersection beginning 9 p.m. Friday, July 25, through 6 a.m. Monday, July 28. The old Century Boulevard Bridge needs to be demolished to allow for the future construction of a new Crenshaw/LAX Line light rail station.

To access the real-time traffic information, call 511 and say “Century Crunch” after the automated greeting. You will get info on the intersection closure and learn recommended detour routes. Or say “traffic” to receive frequently updated traffic information on nearby roadways that feed into the LAX area.

Updates will include freeway traffic drive times, freeway speeds and SigAlerts. For real-time traffic maps and public transportation travel alternatives, visit the website Go511.com or use the Go511 app available in iTunes and Google Play app stores.

Motorists are advised to call or use the mobile app before starting their trip. Please do not use your phones while driving.

I-5 Empire Project update: upcoming construction activities and closures

Here’s the news release from Caltrans; Metro is a funding partner on the project:

The construction activities and closures listed below will occur during the week of July 20-25, 2014, as part of the I-5 Empire Project in Burbank, a series of freeway improvements between Magnolia Boulevard and Buena Vista Street. More information about the project is here. Construction activities and closures are subject to change.

Major Construction Activities for the Week of July 20-25, 2014

Daytime work except where noted.

  • Fill placement between the San Fernando Boulevard tunnel and the Lincoln Street/Victory Place intersection.
  • Removal of vegetation along southbound I-5 between Scott Road and Burbank Boulevard.
  • Construction of a boring pit at Victory Place and Wilson Avenue.
  • Manhole work at Victory Place and Empire Center Drive (the signaled intersection near Wendy’s and Catherine’s).
  • The Gas Company will perform utility removal/relocation work near the intersection of Empire Avenue and Victory Place and on San Fernando Boulevard between the northbound Scott Road off-ramp and Grismer Avenue. Some of this work will be performed at night. Please be attentive to lane closures and watch for workers in the construction zone.

What to Expect: Residents and businesses close to the freeway may notice vibration and construction noise, but it will not exceed levels permitted by state, federal and local regulations. Also, the contractor is using approved dust-control measures to minimize airborne particles, but some dust is expected. Additionally, motorists should be attentive to new traffic patterns created by restriping of travel lanes and concrete barriers. Please proceed cautiously and watch for workers.

Closures for the Week of July 20-25, 2014

Northbound I-5 Closures

Ramp

  • Burbank Boulevard/Walnut Avenue on-ramp: A permanent closure was implemented on July 16, 2014.

Southbound I-5 Closures

Ramps

  • Scott Road off-ramp: Permanent closure. This ramp will be integrated into the Empire interchange, which will open in mid-2016
  • Victory Boulevard/Lincoln Street on-ramp: Permanent closure. This ramp will be integrated into the Empire interchange, which will open in mid-2016

Resources for Motorists

  • Project Information:Information about the project is here.
  • Closure Information: Closure information for this and other freeway projects is also available on the Caltrans website and the I-5 website.

For the safety of the construction crew and motorists, please be attentive to closures, slow for the cone zone, and move over one lane where possible.

Caltrans thanks motorists for their patience and understanding during construction. For more information, visit I-5info.com.

 

Motion proposes further study of ExpressLanes for part of the 105 freeway

The above motion is scheduled to be considered by the Metro Board of Directors this month — the motion seeks to launch environmental studies of adding ExpressLanes to the 105 freeway, with an initial segment between the 405 and 605 freeways. To be perfectly clear: the motion concerns more studies of the concept. A decision to go forward with such a project would come much later.

The 105 freeway, as you likely know, intersects with the existing ExpressLanes on the 110 freeway. The 110-105 junction includes exclusive on-ramps and off-ramps between the 110 ExpressLanes and the HOV lanes presently on the 105 — i.e. there’s no need for motorists to exit the ExpressLanes or HOV lanes when going between the two freeways.

The idea, at this time, would be to have two ExpressLanes in each direction. That would be done mostly by re-striping the freeway with some spot widening. Adding those extra lanes would require approvals from Caltrans, the state agency that oversees freeway operations.

Some background: the Metro Board in 2010 had asked Metro staff to study the possibility of adding ExpressLanes to the 405 freeway between the Orange County border and Los Angeles International Airport. At the time, Orange County was considering adding HOT lanes to the 405 but Orange County Transportation Authority officials have since rejected that notion and want to add a general lane instead to their portion of the 405. This Metro staff report explains the issues.

As a result, Metro has studied other alternatives and determined that adding ExpressLanes to the 105 and eventually the 605 would help provide an ExpressLanes corridor between Orange County and LAX. If that happens, it would be a phased approach and the Board is being asked to consider an initial segment on the 105 between the 405 and 605.