By Steve Hymon, January 9, 2015
Last year was a little busy around here, ‘little’ being a vast understatement. I’m guessing 2015 won’t be much different. Metro is in the midst of a $14-billion capital program — thanks to Measure R — and, of course, the agency is running one of the nation’s largest transit systems.
A few things on the slate in the year ahead:
•The scheduled completion later this year of two rail projects, the second phase of the Expo Line and the Gold Line Foothill Extension.
Once work is done, the respective Construction Authorities building the
projects will begin the process of handing them over to Metro. Both
projects are forecast to open in the first half of 2016.
•With Metro CEO Art Leahy announcing his departure earlier this week, a new chief executive will need to be hired. Art is planning on staying until April 5.
•Heavy construction will continue or begin on three other Metro Rail projects under construction: the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the Purple Line Extension and the Regional Connector.
•On the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the tunnel boring machine to be used on
the northern section of the line will be lowered into the ground. The
machine was delivered last year.
•The draft environmental document for the SR-710 project
is scheduled to be released later this winter. The project aims to
improve traffic caused by the gap in the 710 freeway between Alhambra
•The new Division 13 bus maintenance facility in downtown Los Angeles adjacent to Metro headquarters is scheduled to be completed.
•Work continues on the I-5 widening project between the 605 and the Orange County border. Caltrans is the lead agency; Metro is a major funder of the project.
•Also ongoing work on other transit projects, including the
pedestrian tunnel under Lankershim to make it easier to transfer between
the Orange Line and Red Line in North Hollywood and the bridge over
Lankerhshim between the Red Line’s Universal/Studio City Station and
•The Metro Board will likely consider a contract for a firm to run a pilot bike share program in downtown L.A.
•Work on the Wilshire Boulevard peak hour bus lanes project is
scheduled to be completed later in the year. When done, there will be
7.7 miles of peak hour bus lanes between Wilshire & Centinela (the
border between the cities of Santa Monica and Los Angeles) and Wilshire
& Valencia, just west of downtown L.A. with buses running in regular
traffic lanes in the Condo Canyon section of Wilshire and Beverly
•On the TAP front, Big Blue Bus is scheduled to start accepting TAP
cards in March. Also, new screen prompts will debut on Metro ticket
machines and a new regional TAP website is scheduled to premiere.
•Work is soon to begin on the installation of equipment that will
allow for wifi and cell phone access in underground rail stations, with
initial work in the Red/Purple Line in downtown L.A.
•Delivery of the first completed new light rail vehicles being built by Metro contractor Kinkisharyo.
•And the first delivery of new electric 40-foot buses built by BYD for Metro.
•Metro and the Metro Board will likely be discussing and possibly
deciding whether to go forward with a ballot measure for November 2016
to accelerate or fund new projects.
•The Metro Board will have to consider contracts for policing the
Metro system. The current contract with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s
Department expires at the end of this fiscal year (the end of June).
•Metro and the Federal Transit Administration will continue to
negotiate a federal grant and loan to help build the second section of
the Purple Line Extension between Wilshire/La Cienega and Century City.
The FTA recently gave Metro the go-ahead to enter into the engineering
phase of the New Starts program, a positive sign for Metro’s grant/loan
Again, this is basic list of things-to-expect-in-2015. I’m probably
missing a few things. We’ll certainly try to chronicle it here on the
blog and Metro’s social media streams on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Check back often please for the latest updates!