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


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.


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.


24 replies

  1. The time delay between utility relocation and pile installation isn’t because of corruption, it’s because of a lack of workers. As soon as the utilities are moved at Fairfax they’ll be working at the station project at La Brea. There won’t be workers free for Fairfax until the utility work is done at La Cienega.
    The workers don’t get a six month paid vacation. They’ll be at another site.

  2. actually it’s like nine years of driving on decking. That’s fine. it won’t be noticeable.

    My concern it the obvious corruption in the timeline discrepancies for decking installation. 9 months to install decking at la brea. 18 months to install decking at Fairfax. 24 months to install decking at La Cienega. Something is up.

    Likewise, the obvious corruption in the timeline discrepancies for station box construction, five+ years for La Brea, but a year or two shorter for Fairfax and La Cienega. None of it makes any sense, other than padding wallets.

    And they are very efficient at starting pile installation as soon as utility relocation is done at La Brea, but they take a six or nine month break between finishing utility relocation and starting pile installation at Fairfax. I assume we’ll be paying salaries for a few hundred construction workers to not do anything during the six month vacation between utility relocation and pile installation listed above on the timeline, and it’s frustrating to see all these inefficiencies and corruption so brazenly displayed and metro never gets called on it.

  3. Let’s see, the Wilshire Grand Hotel was demolished completely in 2012 and the 73 story Wilshire Grand Tower is scheduled to be completed in 2017 for $1 billion total, done by a Korean construction company.

    So tell me again why it only takes the Koreans only 5 years to completely demolish a hotel and construct a 73 story skyscraper in the middle of downtown LA for $1 billion, while Metro takes $2.7 billion at 9 years for the Purple Line extension?

    Metro really needs to change their contractors to Asian construction firms. They can build these things faster, cheaper and better quality than hiring American contractors. The best interest of the public and taxpayers is to build things faster and cheaper, not selecting American firms who take forever to build at double, even triple the price!

  4. Metro should just hire Korean contractors who constructed the Seoul Metro. Koreans would get this done in half the time and half the cost and they’d also find ways to make profit out of when everything is completed too.

  5. I would love to know, simply, if the 5+ years scheduled to build La Brea station is primarily due (a) the availability of funding, or (b) anticipated construction challenges.

    Because I’ll tell ya, 5+ years is too long to build a station. You dig out the box (with install of shoring/pilings), and then you build a building inside that box.

    And don’t tell me about complexity. I’ve seen massive high-rises, with many technical challenges, in earthquake country (L.A.), go up in only two years, including underground foundations and sub-levels.

  6. One thing that did not come out of the a long discussion was Any Talk about the Qualifications of one of STS partners Traylor who has extensive tunneling all that was done was to pick on Skanska calming they had very little tunneling experience with is untrue folks were narrow minded and looked at limited info when atacking the team of Skanska, Traylor and Shea, a Joint Venture (STS) if you look at there past work and quality of work there are the most reliable choice

  7. Calm down. It is not torment to drive on a deck for two years.

  8. 9 years does seem too long. look at the Chinese, the Japanese. Even the Russians can do it quicker.

  9. My personal choice is to focus on the Gold line extension since we do not have rail in the northern part of the San Gabriel Valley. We can have the terminus at the Ontario Airport but also continue the line east along the 210 freeway to I15. Lets get the congestion off the 210.

  10. Also, are they trying to torment Beverly Hills on purpose by dragging out Street Decking Installation over two years? They manage to do it in 9 months at La Brea. There’s also a stupidly dumb six months from the end of utility relocation to the installation of piles at Fairfax, and Fairfax also has the two year deck installation torture. You’d think that those processes would be consistent, but I guess the contractor has to pad his expenses somewhere. Looks like Garcetti should be putting Nick Patsaouras in charge of this instead of Crenshaw, because there are a bunch of obvious time savings everyone can see in that timeline if you just have a leader cracking the whip to take advantage of them.

  11. What’s so special about the La Brea station that it takes 1-2 years longer than all the other stations. Are they only working two hours per day, and taking six hour lunch breaks at La Brea?

  12. @ Mike Dunn: A Santa Monica Blvd line would be wonderful, but there is a huge chance that the Blvd was built upon a fault line, that may mean it isn’t possible to build on that particular street.

  13. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard this. Nothing new here.

    We all know what’s going to happen next:

    1. Endless studies and meetings over and over again
    2. NIMBY lawsuits
    3. Massive cost overruns
    4. Tax increases to cover for these expenses

  14. @mike dunn: The Westside is already getting Expo, Purple and Crenshaw lines. That is more than any other part of town. The voters in other parts of the county, including suburban areas served by Metrolink, will not support any more lines on the Westside, with the possible exception of a Valley-Westside line.

  15. Mike Dunn, you’re the reason we don’t have effective transit in this county. To so naively state that if a line you want is not built, you will campaign against every other transit improvement proposed is ridiculous. Why do you feel the need to campaign against transit just because you don’t get exactly what you want?

  16. Seems like a very long time to drill two tunnels and build three stations. The only big hurdle is passing by the La Brea Tar Pits.

    Concerning another ballot measure. Unless it contains language that places a light rail line from the westside to at least Sanborn Junction via Santa Monica Bl. as it’s top priority I will campaign to defeat it. Santa Monica Bl. is the main corridor between the westside and the communities of West Hollywood, Hollywood, East Hollywood and Silverlake. It’s time those who live in these communities receive relief. After all, Jerry Brown took away the freeway that was planned and partially paid for during his prior term as governor.

  17. Great news, but how do we accelerate the timeline? 2023? so disappointing. We need this done in a couple years. Get the Chinese on it