Following the Purple Line to West L.A.

This month, Progressive Railroading editors examined two ongoing railroad projects — one involving freight rail and the other, passenger rail — from an engineering perspective. My assignment was to provide an update of a passenger-rail project underway, so I chose the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (Metro) Purple Line subway extension. That project will produce a 9-mile heavy-rail line between the Wilshire Boulevard Western Station and the VA Hospital Station in West Los Angeles.

This long-awaited initiative was designed to connect West L.A. to Metro's expanding rail network, which agency officials believe will improve transportation options in a region famous for its motor-vehicle traffic jams.

Phase I of three is now under construction. Engineering and construction work is being managed by Skanska, Traylor Brothers Inc. and J.F. Shea Construction Joint Venture (STS), which was awarded the $1.6 billion design-build contract in 2014. STS expects to complete right-of-way work later this month and final design early next month.

An integrated project team model is being used for the Phase I's engineering, design and construction because it allows the team to tap into the best resources available through the agency as well as engineering and construction management consultants, Metro officials say.

The project also involves the use of "Revit modeling," in which all engineering disciplines are designed in one model during the advanced preliminary engineering phase, according to Metro spokesman Dave Sotero. The approach is unique in the transit-rail industry, he added.

Another unique aspect of the Purple Line Extenstion is the the fact that it's being built in the La Brea Tar Pits area, which adds steps to the ground excavation process. Team members never know when they might uncover parts of an ancient mammoth fossil — which actually happened late last November.

Metro considers the Purple Line Extension to be one of its "priority" projects. Construction on Phase I is supposed to wrap up in June 2023, with testing, pre-revenue and revenue service slated for early November 2023.

You can read more about the project in my feature story, which is available here. And if you're a resident of L.A. or a frequent visitor, let me know what you think of Metro's expanding passenger-rail service. Do you use it? Do you want more of it?

Will it help L.A. shake its image as one of the worst places to drive in America?

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