Construction of L.A. Metro’s Westside Purple Line halted over safety issues
D.A. Davidson, chief of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, speaks during a meeting with Westside residents about the plan for L.A. Metro’s Purple Line. | Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority
The Purple Line, which was being constructed on what was being considered the “highest-maintenance corridor in the world,” ended up being the most expensive rail investment in the nation’s history.
Now, with the project on life support, it’s being reconsidered. But in a new report, Metro’s chief transit planning officer says the agency hasn’t made the best decision about the project at least since it was first conceived.
Metro’s new report, published Friday in the American Chronicle of Philanthropy magazine, has a list of recommendations for improving Metro’s Purple Line. Among them: Getting the project up to speed faster to meet high ridership projections.
“My concern is that we are getting too far ahead of ourselves,” Davidson said.
“We have waited until a project is late and under construction to be able to say that it is late and under construction,” he said.
The Purple Line is expected to open in 2021, with the West Los Angeles County line set to go for completion by 2026.
The project, which was supposed to be up and running by the late 2020s, has been plagued by cost overruns, and Davidson and other agency officials have described the construction as the most expensive rail project in the nation’s history.
Metro is putting a halt on the project in early March pending a lengthy study by the agency’s executive committee, which could lead to an overhaul of the design or a reconfiguration or relocation of some or all of the line.
But Metro’s new report makes it clear that the Purple Line had its challenges from the start.
For starters, Metro had to make changes in the bidding process for the project to avoid the possibility of winning a project that had a price tag five times the amount Metro estimated to be necessary to complete it in time.
Metro began using bidding software that allows cities to save hundreds of millions of dollars by keeping bids secret.
Metro also has the benefit, and responsibility, of being on a tight budget.
“Metro is a constrained organization,” Davidson said.
In addition to waiting for the study, Metro must also rework the Purple