Exposition Construction Authority
Light rail construction continues in Los Angeles

The last major funding piece fell into place this month for a $640-million, 8.4-mile light rail line from downtown Los Angeles to Culver City. The California Transportation Commission (CTC) allocated $315 million to the Exposition Light Rail project’s ongoing Phase 1 construction. This assures that the overall project will be completed by its 2010 deadline, says Samantha Bricker, chief operations officer for the Exposition Construction Authority, the organization created to oversee construction for the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The project is being built by a joint venture team led by FCI Constructors, Inc., Fluor Corp. and Parsons Corp. The trio is working on a negotiated design-build contract, which is broken up into 19 work packages, says Bricker.
“They design a work package and we negotiate the construction price after it’s at about 85 percent design and then we award the contract to them,” she says. “It’s a way of keeping the project moving and not waiting until all the design is done before we start construction”
“With [negotiated design-build] we are able to prioritize the packages and do the work in the sequence that it needs to get done, so we can focus on the critical elements as we move through,” says Eric Olson, the MTA organization’s chief project officer. He says compared to a traditional design-bid-build contract, this method will probably save the project between 12 and 18 months of work time.
Design is currently 70 percent complete and the job is 2.5 percent into construction. It runs along an old, existing railroad right-of-way owned by MTA. The line will begin in downtown Los Angeles, turn west near USC and Exposition Park, and then run parallel with the 10 Freeway. When complete it is expected to whisk passengers from downtown to Culver City in less than 30 minutes. MTA estimates a daily ridership of 43,600 by the year 2020.
The silver-colored trains will cut through one new trench, pass over two new bridges and stop at 10 stations. This includes eight new stations, a bike path, Park-and-Ride lots with approximately 1,500 parking spaces, and landscaping.

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  • Since construction began in October, crews have been concentrating on underground utilities, street widening and prep work. With the awarding last week of a $45-million packet, work will now begin on stations and on the excavation of a large trench, says Olson.   
    “The biggest piece of work that we are doing at this time is this cut-and-cover trench, which we will complete in early 2009,” says Olson. “We are going underneath two heavily traveled streets and this is going to require full closures.”

    He says the trench’s main challenge will be integrating construction activities with minimizing traffic impacts and impacts to USC, while the college is in full session.
    The ditch will require the excavation of about 60,000 cu yds of earth. It will measure 2,500 ft long and about 30 ft deep and will be supported by 825 CIDH piles, drilled to depths of between 20 and 40 feet.
    Phase 2 of the Expo Line, which will run from Culver City to Santa Monica, is currently in planning. This estimated $950 million project is expected to break ground at the end of Phase 1 and be complete by 2015, says Bricker.