Dear Mama McGraw-Hill Construction:

I promised I’d write you one more time during my week off from work. I’m sure you are just thrilled.

I managed to squeeze in a meeting with KESTA Corp., the newly born American offspring of the Korea Expressway Corp. KESTA has a SMART bridge load rating system that measures ambient vibrations. No traffic closures are necessary with this method. It’s been used on 200 bridges in Korea. Officials hope for good vibrations in the U.S.

Remember my date with LA Metro? It was intense, fascinating and utterly cool. Well, actually it was a hot date. As in degrees hitting the 90s.

Krishniah Murthy, Metro’s executive director of transit project delivery, and Arthur Hadnett, VP of Stantec, were my guides for the day as we checked out prime examples of the America Fast Forward program. ENR freelancer Greg Aragon served as my right-hand man.

First, we saw the nearly $900-million Gold Line rail extension in the San Gabriel Valley. The signature piece, a bridge over the 210 freeway that Greg reported on for me last year, is nearing completion.

We then struggled through relentless traffic (and my horrifically bad navigational skills) across LA County to meet officials with Phase 2 of the Exposition Line. The joint venture of Skanska and Rados has a very impressive “war room.” Construction tasks are meticulously planned, organized and recorded, from the long-term six-month outlook down to a 3-week action item checklist. It was a great chance to quickly catch up with my ENR newsmaker Rick Thorpe.

We headed north to the $1-billion Sepulveda Pass widening, where the mountains — and the, shall we say, very interested, very wealthy local communities loom constantly over the massive construction. Metro and Caltrans are gearing up for Carmageddon 2. Officials say that last year, for the first Carmageddon (they also have a “Ramp-ture”) they needed 3 people just to answer constant tweets over the weekend. It was a great chance to say hi again to project head Mike Barbour.

We then headed even further east into the North Valley, and rode down the newly completed Orange Line extension's bus rapid transit lanes. These are exclusive to buses, so our Metro construction vehicle ride was a rare privilege, and each station features artwork. This project also has a beautiful bridge spanning existing railroad tracks, with an architectural recess that literally evokes the profile of the mountains behind it.

After a few margaritas and catching up with Stantec's Sheila Wray Given, a fellow WTS-LA member, I got dropped off back home by Greg, and after an 8-hour day and four Metro projects in the intense heat, I literally passed out. I’m a cheap date!

Well, I’ll see you Monday, relaxed and refreshed from my week off and ready again to give my all to you. I plan to follow up on all of these projects in the news pages of ENR, along with pretty pictures. (I don't mean to complain, MMHC, but a more robust remote network connection would really help improve the visual nature of my missives).


--the transportation editor

Editor’s Note: I guess some might call me a workaholic. But the thing is, I really had a fabulous time. I love transportation projects, and those who build and execute them are some of my favorite people to be around. I also love Los Angeles (despite the horrific traffic, which these projects aim to alleviate). So I was a happy "camper."