- The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) on Feb. 28 approved a new budget of more than $3.2 billion for Section 3 of the Westside Purple Line Extension project, a figure that is more than double the original projection of $1.4 billion. Costs for the 2.6-mile project are now approximately $1.2 billion per mile.
- In a presentation to the Metro board, Kimberly Ong, executive officer of project management at the Metro, said the new budget reflected the inclusion of stations, track work, systems and testing portions of the line. Ong said the new budget is consistent with previous board actions and is included in the project’s Full Funding Grant Agreement plan submitted to the Federal Transit Administration.
- Board members also approved the $1.4 billion Section 3 contract award to the joint venture of Tutor Perini and O&G Industries pending the FFGA approval. The board also approved the withholding of Measure M funds from a local subfund to pay for the 3% local agency contributions under certain conditions and the hiring of 12 additional Metro staff to help support the stations portion of the project.
The Metro anticipates that the new extension will be put into operation in 2026. In June, the Metro selected Tutor Perini and joint venture partner Frontier-Kemper Constructors to bore the twin tunnels for Section 3 of the Purple Line under a $410 million contract. For the remainder of this year, the tunnel project should be in the preconstruction phase with an emphasis on existing utility relocation and preservation.
Tutor Perini, which is based in Los Angeles, is also a major contractor for the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s bullet train project, which was priced at $77 billion before the shift to a smaller-scale version at the direction of California Gov. Gavin Newsom. The project was dealt another blow a few days later when the Federal Railroad Administration notified state officials that it intended to withhold almost $1 billion of grant funding for the project amid doubts that the rail will be able to meet its completion deadline. President Donald Trump also said the administration would look for ways to claw back another $2.5 billion in federal grants awarded to the project.
However, in a Feb. 27 update during a 2018 fourth-quarter earnings call, Ronald Tutor, company chairman and CEO, called the president’s threats “rhetoric” and said the state of California would likely step up to “fund any gaps” if necessary. In his opinion, he said, the authority is hoping to build credibility for the project by completing the Bakersfield-Merced line in order to “generate a way forward” for additional segments of the project.
As far as the company’s progress on the Bakersfield-Merced segment, Tutor said the company is still negotiating a $400 million change order with the authority and that right-of-way and other issues would likely delay the ability to begin their portion of the work until June or July.