LA Metro awards second Purple Line contract 09 Feb 2017

Shani Wallis, TunnelTalk

It is with a price of nearly $500 million and $700 million or up to nearly 60% below its two rivals that the Tutor Perini/O&G JV team is awarded the Los Angeles Metro Purple Line second section contract.

Fig 1.  Purple Line extension and it three sections
Fig 1. Purple Line extension and it three sections

The JV takes the design-build contract from its two bidding competitors the Skanska-Obayashi JV and the Walsh Strabag JV and for an award price of $1.37 billion (Table 1).

The contract involves excavation of the middle 2.6 mile (4.2km) second section of the Wilshire Boulevard underground Purple Line metro extension and the two underground stations, one at the junctions of Wilshire/Rodeo in downtown Beverly Hills and in the second is in the heart of Century City (Fig 1).

The JV, comprising Tutor Perini Corporation of Sylmar, California and O&G Industries of Torrington, Connecticut, is joined by design engineering partner STV Incorporated and engaged Frontier Kemper, which Tutor Perini bought in 2011, as a tunneling subcontractor.

Skanska, a partner in the closest rival has worked for the Metro Authority on its Foothill Gold Line and the Expo 2 Line and is currently a member of the joint venture building Metro’s Regional Connector project in downtown Los Angeles and the first section of the Purple Line. Partner Walsh, in JV with Strabag, is currently a member of the JV building the Crenshaw/LAX Project for Metro.

Table 1. Wide spread separated the three competing bidders
Proposer name Total price proposal1 Award price2
Tutor Perini/O&G JV $1,453,622,111 $1,376,500,000
Skanska-Obayashi JV $1,947,004,375 $1,828,934,700
Walsh Strabag JV $2,324,627,678 $2,018,569,899
Note 1: The total price proposal includes the base work, provisional sums, unit prices, delay compensation, and life cycle costs.
Note 2: The award price includes base work and provisional sums only

Tutor Perini has worked on the BART Extension to San Francisco Airport in California, the AirTrain project at JFK Airport in New York, and has history also the with Los Angeles Metro project having worked on the early Red Line phases of the project building Segment 2 in the downtown area and Segment 3 to North Hollywood in the early 1990s. Then as company Tutor Saliba the contracts ran into extended court cases over claims and counterclaims for extra costs. Tutor Saliba subsequently merged with Perini Corp. Tutor Perini has delivered subway tunnel projects for the Central Subway project in San Francisco, the University Link in Seattle and the East Side Access project in New York and is notably a partner with Spanish contractor Dragados on the Alaskan Way SR99 viaduct replacement highway tunnel project in Seattle which is being excavated by 17.4m diameter TBM Bertha, one of the largest TBMs in operation in the world currently, which has experienced serious mechanical problems and time delays and is now heading steadily towards a breakthrough in about March 2017. The contractor is also working on the first construction section of the California high-speed rail project. 

The Purple Line contract was confirmed by the Board of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority at its first Board meeting of 2017. In recommending the contractor for the award, the Tutor Perini team was deemed to have the best overall proposal through a combination of technical, project management and price components. All three proposals submitted were comparable on their technical merits, and the Tutor Perini team was said to have presented the best value proposal when scored under the final evaluation process (Table 2).

Table 2. Final evaluation assessment categories and scores
Average Score
Tutor Perini/O & G, JV
Project Management 71.47 45.00% 32.16  
Technical Approach 73.10 20.00% 14.62  
Price 100.00 35.00% 35.00  
*Voluntary Payment to
Subcontractors Initiative
100.00 5.00% 5.00  
Total   105.00% 86.78 1
Skanska-Obayashi, JV
Project Management 76.31 45.00% 34.34  
Technical Approach 77.15 20.00% 15.43  
Price 68.31 35.00% 23.91  
*Voluntary Payment to
Subcontractors Initiative
100.00 5.00% 5.00  
Total   105.00% 78.68 2
Walsh Strabag JV
Project Management 73.44 45.00% 33.05  
Technical Approach 79.05 20.00% 15.81  
Price 65.23 35.00% 22.83  
*Voluntary Payment to
Subcontractors Initiative
100.00 5.00% 5.00  
Total   105.00% 76.70 3

When Metro Director Jacqueline Dupont-Walker questioned Chief Executive Ronald Tutor about the cost difference between the bidders, he is reported to have stood by the estimate, saying that no company had more experience building Los Angeles subways. “We have built most of this system,” he said. “We know what it costs us.”

At the same meeting, the Board established a budget of $2.4 billion for the second section project. In early January, the US Department of Transportation announced $1.5 billion in new Federal grants and loans to Metro to build section two of the project.

Completion of the second subway section is anticipated no later than 2026 per a funding agreement with the Federal Transit Administration and Metro is aiming to finish the project at an earlier date.

Metro is currently building the first section of the Purple Line Extension between the current subway terminus at Wilshire/Western and Wilshire/La Cienega with three new stations, a contract that attracted its own set of controversy and objection through the contract award stage. The third and final section of the current Purple Line Extension project will extend the subway to the Westwood/VA Hospital (Fig 1). Construction of the third section is planned to begin as early as 2019.

In a statement, Metro said that it “intends to implement a strong oversight plan with experienced staff to ensure the project is completed as intended and remains on time and on budget.” The statement continued that the plan “includes ‘executive partnering’ between Metro and the contractor up to the CEO level to resolve project claims and changes” and that the Authority “will also pursue a collaborative approach to third-party issues”.


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