Surge in COVID-19 poses challenge to Metro Rail projects

Another sign of the times: the significant local increase in COVID-19 cases poses a challenge to the five rail construction projects that Metro oversees. These projects include the three sections of the Purple (D Line) Extension, the Regional Connector Transit Project and the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project.

The numbers tell the story. In September and October 2020, the contractors building these projects reported a total of seven positive COVID-19 cases. In November, those projects had 35 cases, and in December there were 88 cases. Numbers for January are pending but we’re expecting more of the same.

Capital construction is considered an essential activity under federal and state guidelines during the pandemic. Our contractors have been following a variety of safety guidelines since last March to keep workers safe, but the projects are challenged by the same issues facing many other employers. Community transmission of COVID-19 is extremely widespread in L.A. County with about 200,000 new positive cases so far this month.

Metro’s contractors have informed the agency that they’re doing their best to mitigate worker absences but that it’s getting increasingly difficult.

At this time, we have not determined how COVID-19 will impact our projects’ schedules, if at all. The bottom line is this: if the surge in COVID-19 cases continues for much longer, we may begin to see project impacts.

This isn’t the only problem the pandemic is causing for Metro. We posted earlier this month that we’re having to cancel some bus and rail trips each day because of staff absences — with many staff at home either sick, caring for sick family members or in quarantine. While Metro works to address these challenges, Metro’s Construction Relations teams are here for any project related questions.

To learn more about Metro’s rail construction projects, please visit the following web pages on

Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project

Purple (D Line) Extension

Regional Connector Transit Project