LACMTA Advances East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Project

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor, Railway Age
(East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Transit Rendering, Courtesy of LACMTA)
(East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Transit Rendering, Courtesy of LACMTA)

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) on Feb. 27 reported signing off on a $31 million pre-construction services contract for the East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Project.

San Fernando Transit Constructors, a joint venture of Skanska USA Civil West California District Inc. and Stacy and Witbeck Inc., landed the contract. As part of Phase 1, it will review existing design work and conduct constructability review, value engineering, bottoms-up cost estimate and schedule, according to LACMTA. The joint venture firm will also complete design validation; identify and negotiate early works packages, such as advanced utility relocations and final design; and develop the scope of work and price for Phase 2. Phase 1 will end if LACMTA and San Fernando Transit Constructors agree to a guaranteed maximum price. Then, LACMTA will issue a supplement to the project contract to proceed to Phase 2, kicking off the construction portion of the project, the transit agency reported.

The first segment of the East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Project is a 6.7-mile at-grade alignment that includes 11 new stations; traction power substations; and a new maintenance and storage facility that spans 21 acres and will include several buildings using solar photovoltaic power and excess power storage systems. It is slated to connect the communities of Van Nuys, Panorama City, Arleta and Pacoima along the median of Van Nuys Boulevard, one of the Valley’s busiest corridors, according to LACMTA (see map, below).

A 2.5-mile, three-station segment is also planned to further extend the line from Pacoima to the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink Station. Design options are now under study. It would be built on LACMTA-owned right-of-way along San Fernando Road.

Several Equity Focus Communities, which are census tracts that have a significant concentration of underserved populations, are close to the planned rail line. Provisions in San Fernando Transit Constructors’ contract will ensure that it implements “a robust plan to interact cross-culturally with the many diverse communities along the project corridor,” according to LACMTA.

The joint venture firm had the highest-rated plan for “cultural competency” in its contract proposal, encompassing consideration of race, ethnicity, gender, immigration status, languages spoken, socioeconomics and public transportation dependency, LACMTA reported. It also identified at least 20 community-based stakeholder organizations to engage as part of the pre-construction design-build process, with a particular focus on Spanish-language outreach.

Street level view of the line at Van Nuys and Victory boulevards. (Rendering Courtesy of LACMTA)

Also important, San Fernando Transit Constructors has significant experience employing the Progressive Design-Build (PDB) methodology, which LACMTA will use to build the light rail line. According to LACMTA, PDB is “an innovative and potentially cost-efficient” construction methodology that “has become more common in public-sector projects in recent years and has proven to help decrease project change orders, delays and cost overruns. PDB allows design, engineering and construction teams to work together during the earliest stages of project development, rather than the traditional design method that utilizes a more siloed approach, enabling greater engagement, transparency and collaboration between all parties on a project. PDB can also help reduce scope and schedule creep by addressing the highest risk elements much earlier in the process, well before construction begins.”

San Fernando Transit Constructors will implement the PDB method for its pre-construction services contract.

The total cost for the East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Project is estimated at $1.6 billion to $2 billion. It is being funded by 2008 Measure R and 2016 Measure M transportation sales tax measures, according to LACMTA, which said it has also been working with the Federal Transit Administration on federal funding and earlier this month received a $600 million grant through the state Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP).

“On the East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Project, Metro [LACMTA] is pioneering innovative delivery methods that are key to reducing risk, saving time and avoiding costly change orders,” LACMTA CEO Stephanie Wiggins said. “We’ve also learned from previous projects that partnerships with the community are key to a project’s success; that’s why cultural competency was such an important part of this procurement.”

In related developments, joint venture partners Arcadis and Mott MacDonald (AMM JV) on Jan. 17 reported that they will serve as Construction Management Support Services consultant for the East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Transit Project.

A groundbreaking for advanced utility work on the first project segment was held in December 2022. LACMTA issued a $9 million contract to W.A. Rasic Construction Company, Inc. of Long Beach to begin relocating existing Los Angeles Department of Water & Power vaults and associated conduit infrastructure along Van Nuys Boulevard.

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