Contracts for Pre-Development Work on Sepulveda Transit Project approved by Metro Board

The Metro Board of Directors today approved contracts with two private sector teams for Pre-Development work on the Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project using a first-of-its-kind public-private model. Here’s a presentation given to the Metro Board and here’s the Metro staff report.

This mega-project is planned to connect the San Fernando Valley with the Westside and eventually LAX via a high-speed, high-capacity transit line, connecting two busy destinations for residents and workers. The primary travel option for most people currently is driving the I-405 freeway through the Sepulveda Pass, a choke point that is one of the nation’s most congested roadways.

Sepulveda Transit Corridor Partners – Bechtel was awarded a $69.9-million contract to further develop its proposed heavy rail transit solution concept. More than 60 percent of the partner team’s proposed heavy rail concept would travel underground, with the remainder of the line traveling primarily in an aerial section.  A Valley-to-Westside trip would take just under 20 minutes according to the team’s proposal.  The team’s estimated costs for constructing this proposed solution is $10.8 billion.

LA SkyRail Express was awarded a $63.6-million contract to further develop its proposed monorail concept that would be an aerial alignment primarily within the I-405 right-of-way between the Valley and Westside. Proposed travel times via monorail are estimated at 24 minutes.  The LA SkyRail Express team’s baseline proposal cost for building the monorail concept is $6.1 billion.

Now that PDA contracts have been approved, Metro plans to begin the environmental review process this fall, where concept designs for these and other alternatives will be advanced and/or refined through extensive, ongoing public feedback and technical investigation and analysis.

At its sole discretion, Metro retains the ability to continue the partnership through final design with one of the private sector teams if its transit concept is consistent with the project’s Locally Preferred Alternative, or LPA, that will be selected by the Metro Board. Metro also retains the right to pursue a different project and delivery path, if necessary.

“With the Board’s action today, we have reached a significant milestone in our efforts to envision, design, and develop the United States’ first Pre-Development Agreement specifically for a public transit initiative,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “As we work diligently to create a world-class transportation system here in the Los Angeles region, we will also be creating a new market for infrastructure innovation that can potentially help us build the most challenging project Metro will ever tackle.”

One of the private sector teams may have an opportunity, after the LPA is selected, to submit a proposal to build and potentially help finance the project, potentially accelerating construction and improving project performance.

Pre-Development Agreements (PDAs) enable early contractor involvement in Metro’s transit projects and increase the likelihood that the project can be built via a public-private partnership that allows for innovations in design, engineering, construction approach, financing and operations. The PDAs will bring the expertise and creativity of the private sector to the table early when critical design and engineering decisions can have the greatest impact on the project’s ultimate success. The idea of using a PDA on the Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project was a critical component of several unsolicited proposals submitted to Metro’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation in 2016.

The Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project is funded in part by Measure M, the transportation sales tax approved by 71 percent of Los Angeles County voters in 2016. The total project will receive $9.5 billion in funding from Measure M and other local, state and federal sources. Moving forward with the PDAs best positions Metro to potentially accelerate the project.

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8 replies

  1. Heavy rail underground is the only method that should be considered to move the most people. A Monorail is great for Disneyland. Why is the alignment at Van Nuys Blvd not being considered. It is the most logical.

  2. As I noted in my public comment at the end of a nearly six hour meeting, kudos to the LA SkyRail Express lobbyist. $63 million or some still egregious lesser amount of money wasted on a dead end. Impressive! Certainly earned their pay.

    I especially enjoyed all the vendors etc. feeding off that money making public comment in support of the motion. Ka-Ching!

    From my Disney fan connections I hear the scuttlebutt is Disney regrets putting monorail in the parks. At the Florida property the initial segment was never expanded; for the areas developed outside the Magic Kingdom and vicinity instead they rely on a network of express buses.

    PPP has long been hyped but the track record in the U.S. is scant and bumpy. In Honolulu it imploded when called on to finish their troubled rail project. And I hope Sepulveda Transit Corridor Partners – Bechtel rethink having equipment incompatible with the existing B/D lines.

    My thought is south of Westwood swing west along Wilshire to Santa Monica with connections to the D then after running under 4th Street with a station under the Expo terminus continue South under the Lincoln corridor to Westchester and LAX.

    • Wait, Bechtel’s plans call for separate rolling stock? That’s insane! Metro needs to demand that any heavy rail line use the same rail cars as the rest of the system. How is this even a question? My god!

  3. Monorail is not a compatible means of transferring from a rail and/or light rail and vice versa. Heavy rail lines over the Sepulveda Pass are the easiest way to complete a travel transferl

    • Heavy rail for sure! It will have better, more multi modal friendly connections to local areas due to more central station locations, better transfers, the possibility of interlining with the purple line, the ability to transfer rail cars between the lines for maintenance / storage or other capacity needs (though i doubt metro would preclude building a connector track anyway but who knows), it will be faster and have higher capacity. I think the writing is on the wall here. Also, if LAskyrail express thinks it can build the whole monorail line all the way to LAX, why couldn’t Bechtel find a way to do the same with the HRT guideway? Yes it would be more expensive but not 2057 expensive! c’mon! There’s gotta be a way.

    • Hi Phil;

      A note on both PDA contracts — Metro may not spend the maximum amount on either. There are offramps for the agency in both if we believe a proposal is no longer worth pursuing.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • Spot on!!! Heavy Rail is what the majority wants. Let’s not take the easy and cheap alternative to end up paying more in the long run.