Metro April News: Crenshaw Work Stoppage, All Door Boarding, and More

Today was the April meeting of Metro’s board of directors. There was nothing earth-shatteringly controversial on the agenda, but below are a handful of updates.

A boy walks past the staging area for the Crenshaw Line at Crenshaw and Exposition. Recently erected sound barriers can be seen along Exposition. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog
Safety concerns recently temporarily shut down construction of Metro’s Crenshaw/LAX rail line. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

Crenshaw / LAX Construction Work Stoppage

As mentioned on SBLA Twitter and explained in this headlined L.A. Times article, safety violations caused Metro to take the unprecedented step of stopping construction on the Crenshaw/LAX rail line. Metro issued a stop work order to contractor Walsh/Shea, which paused work on April 9 and resumed on April 13.

Interim CEO Stephanie Wiggins used her report to allow Metro staff to explain the Crenshaw/LAX situation. Metro Risk Management staff reported “two leg fractures” and a “culture situation” of insufficient attention to worker safety on Walsh/Shea’s part.

Walsh/Shea project manager Joe Lee responded, saying that the contractor’s safety record was better than industry standards, but admitting that they had had “a bad March… with a number of close calls.”

The Metro board was not buying Lee’s account. Boardmembers Eric Garcetti, Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, and Mark Ridley-Thomas all expressed displeasure with the contractor. Ridley-Thomas was the most vocal critic, suggesting that Walsh/Shea performance might be a “breach of contract.”

Ridley-Thomas put forward a motion directing Metro to further audit and review the situation, to create a corrective action plan, and to have legal counsel review the matter. The motion passed unanimously.

All-Door Boarding Pilot

Beginning May 18, Metro will test all-door boarding in some locations on Wilshire Boulevard. The details of the pilot have not been made entirely clear yet. The board passed a motion [PDF] by directors Mike Bonin, Eric Garcetti, and Sheila Kuehl to further study all-door boarding and off-board fare payment, initially on Wilshire.

Metro Policing Contract

With his extensive law enforcement background, Inglewood mayor and new Metro board member James Butts is taking a lead board role in overseeing Metro policing. Though he clashed with a Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department (LASD) representative in committee two weeks ago, relations were more polite today as the board received a Metro Inspector General (IG) review of options for when Metro’s transit policing contract comes up for a decision later this year. The IG staff report [PDF] is recommending more-or-less a new extension of the current LASD contract. 

The Metro board approved a Butts motion for Metro to engage consultants to develop a “concept of operations” policy for guiding transit policing.

More very brief updates from this month’s Metro action:

  • Metro approved moving forward with purchasing 600 new buses [PDF] and 60 new light rail cars [PDF].
  • Metro’s monthly construction report [PDF] listed months, instead of seasons, for projected opening for the Foothill Gold Line (March 2016) and Expo Phase 2 (April 2016)
  • As reported in the L.A. Times and Curbed, Metro completed a basic feasibility study for improvements to the Orange Line BRT. It would cost about $350 million to significantly improve the BRT line, or about $1.6 billion to convert it to light rail. See staff report [PDF] and summary handout [PDF].
  • Metro is partnering to build a new tunnel connection to the 7th Street station in downtown L.A. [PDF]

And, if you’re hankering for even more Metro updates, see also recent SBLA coverage of Metro’s FY2016 budget and its schedule for a possible 2016 sales tax ballot measure.

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