A joint venture of three construction firms was awarded a $1.6 billion contract by the Metro Board of Directors on Thursday to build the first phase of the Metro Purple Line subway extension toward the Westside, despite concerns the venture was by far the most expensive bidder for the project.
The staff of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority recommended last month that the joint venture of Skanska, Traylor Bros. and J.F. Shea — or STS — be awarded the contract to build the 3.9-mile project. The extension will take the line from its terminus at Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue to Wilshire and La Cienega boulevards.
Metro staff noted that that the STS bid was the highest in terms of dollars, but the joint venture’s project management and technical approach scored higher than two other bidders.
Metro noted that the three firms in the venture have more than 300 years of combined experience, including work on the Metro Gold Line Eastside project, the Metro Expo Line extension to Santa Monica and the Regional Connector in downtown Los Angeles.
But those assurances did not silence the concerns of some board members.
Los Angeles County Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas, Mike Antonovich and Don Knabe — all of whom sit on the Metro board — voted against the contract.
Knabe noted that the STS bid was more than $192 million more expensive than the other two that were submitted.
The failed bidders have filed protests which are still being reviewed.
The contract calls for the extension to be completed in October 2024, although STS proposed an early completion schedule that would advance that by almost a year, according to Metro.
According to Metro, the 3.9-mile extension would include underground stations at Wilshire/La Brea, Wilshire/Fairfax and Wilshire/La Cienega.
The Purple Line, which begins at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, is ultimately planned to reach just beyond Westwood.