The Regional Connector light-rail project will complete a 1.9-mile gap connecting the Gold Line with the Blue and Expo lines by providing a direct connection with three new stations planned for 1st Street/Central Avenue, 2nd Street/Broadway and 2nd Place/Hope Street in downtown Los Angeles.
In addition to awarding the contract, the board also approved an additional $39.99 million for the Regional Connector Life-of-Project budget for a total budget of $1.420 billion. Of the four bids received, Skanska/Traylor had the overall highest ranking including the highest technical score and the highest evaluated score for pricing, based on the criteria in the request for proposals. In recommending the award of the contract, staff noted that Skanska/Traylor indicated that they plan to finish construction 115 days early and will absorb the cost of any delays caused by LACMTA or subcontractors.
The Regional Connector is expected to be completed in 2020 and attract nearly 17,000 new daily riders and provide access to more than 88,000 passengers saving passengers up to 20 minutes off their daily commutes. It will provide a one-seat, one fare ride for commuters from Azusa to Long Beach and from East Los Angeles to Santa Monica without the need to transfer between rail lines for major east/west and north/south trips.
LACMTA's Board of Directors also awarded a contract to HDR Engineering, Inc., for environmental work and engineering of the Southern California Regional Interconnector Project (SCRIP).
SCRIP will change the configuration of some of Union Station's "stub end" tracks to "run through" the station, allowing operational flexibility. Currently, all commuter and intercity regional rail trains enter and exit through the five track throat at the north end of Union Station. SCRIP will extend several of the tracks to exit the south end of the station, cross over the 101 freeway and join the railroad right-of-way along the west bank of the Los Angeles River. The preliminary cost estimate for the project is $350 million.
"SCRIP will allow Union Station to increase track capacity 40 to 50 percent and provide greater flexibility in scheduling, as well as an increase in passenger loading with longer trains," said LACMTA Board Chair Diane DuBois. "The "run through" tracks will allow one-seat rides between the various destinations in the Metrolink service area and greatly improve operations."
The current "stub end" configuration requires an average turn-around time of 15 minutes per train, resulting in more than 40 cumulative hours of train idling at Union Station each day. SCRIP can potentially shorten dwell time for more than 50 percent of the passenger trains using the station to two minutes for passenger loading and unloading, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions of idling locomotives by an estimated 44 percent.
The California High Speed Rail Authority, which is a partner with LACMTA on the project, plans to connect high-speed train service directly to Union Station, thereby providing additional ridership for other rail providers and increasing the need for additional capacity.
The preliminary schedule calls for the completion of environmental and engineering work in late 2016 with construction to be complete in late 2019.