Metro Expected to Approve Final Purple Line Subway Section 3 Contract this Week

This week Metro is expected to approve contracts for the third and final Purple Line extension. Image via Metro
This week Metro is expected to approve contracts for the third and final Purple Line extension. Image via Metro

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At its monthly meeting tomorrow, the Metro Board is expected to approve staff recommendations for completing the Westside Purple Line extension Section 3. Specifically, the board would approve the project’s overall $3.2 billion budget, and award contractor Tutor Perini a $1.36 billion design/build contract for stations, trackwork, systems and testing. The latest contract is contingent on receiving a final federal full funding grant agreement (FFGA).

This section is the last of three current phases that extend the Purple Line subway west. Sections one and two are already under construction and anticipated to be completed in 2023 and 2025, respectively. Section three will extend 2.59 miles from Century City to the Westwood VA Hospital.

Westside Purple Line Sections - map via Metro
Westside Purple Line Sections – map via Metro

In June, 2018, the Metro board approved a $410 million contract to Frontier-Kemper/Tutor Perini JV for just the tunneling portion of Purple Line Section 3. That approval was contingent on Metro receiving a delayed go-ahead letter from the federal government, which arrived in September, just before the tunneling bid would have expired.

Now Metro is about to award the contract for the remaining work to complete Section 3.

As with the Foothill Gold Line and other construction contracts, prices are going up. In the Measure M expenditure plan, the Purple Line was estimated to cost $1.98 billion in 2015 dollars. Section 2 of the Purple Line extension – which has the same mileage and same number of stations – is costing $2.4 billion, in contrast with Section 3, now at $3.2 billion.

In June, when the tunnel contract was approved, Metro’s staff report acknowledged some increased costs, citing increased property acquisition costs, an added crossover, and some additional contingency set-asides mandated by the Federal Transit Administration. In an email to SBLA, Metro spokesperson Dave Sotero stated that inflation in a hot construction market is a factor in cost increases between sections 2 and 3.

One factor contributing to delays and cost increases is the federal government’s tardiness in getting congress-approved project dollars to transit agencies. Metro is still waiting for the Section 3 FFGA that was anticipated about a year ago. Had the feds approved the FFGA in early 2018, construction contracts could have been awarded sooner. Instead, as Metro’s governmental affairs director asserted at a recent committee meeting, the FFGA had been further delayed during the federal government shutdown. It should arrive any day now.

None of this is to say that this important project should not be approved this week. To avoid further cost escalation, it is important that Metro get the final Purple Line extension project design and build underway now, without further delays. Moving forward now should mean the full Purple Line will be open in time for the 2028 Olympics.

 

  • cygp2p

    Tutor Perini again… sigh.

  • SeaMoney

    Tutor Perini? Hell no.

  • Adam Susaneck

    As the other commenters have noted, why does Metro (and SFMTA up north) continue to go with Tutor Perini despite their history of delays and botched jobs?

  • numble

    As Tutor Perini’s CEO brags on their earnings call last week, they have very little competition these days. https://seekingalpha.com/article/4245039-tutor-perini-corporations-tpc-ceo-ronald-tutor-q4-2018-results-earnings-call-transcript?part=single

    Skanska, which built and is building many Metro projects recently (Expo, Gold, Purple Line Section 1, Regional Connector), apparently is downsizing according to Tutor Perini’s CEO. Skanska declined to bid on this Section 3 project even though Metro invited them to bid. Skanska also has a large budget and schedule overrun issue on the Regional Connector.

    At least one thing Metro could hope for is that, if Tutor Perini screws up here, they probably would be less likely to get the major 28×2028 and Measure M projects that are worth billions. They have been ahead of schedule and below budget for Purple Line Section 2 (so far).

  • David T

    Tutor Perini. Enough said. Expect costs and schedule overrun by 50%. They price underbid everyone else and then overcharge after they get the contract. The LA subway has no room for these fk-ups. Metro’s heads need to be put on a stick if Tutor Perini pulls another one. TP is not good at what they do, but at this point of constantly getting fked, this one is all on Metro.

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