COLORADO AVE — I hear the train a-comin’.
The company tasked with constructing the incoming Expo Light Rail says that trains should be on the tracks for testing by March at the latest.
“It’s going to be in the first quarter of 2015,” said Skanska-Rados construction manager Robb Fonkalsrud. “Probably more towards the latter part of the first quarter.”
It’ll come down to how quickly workers can get the electrical systems into place, Fonkalsrud said.
Train testing will begin on the easternmost portion of the projects’ second phase (Phase 1, from Downtown Los Angeles to Culver City, opened in 2012) and then, soon after, hop to Santa Monica — the terminus of the line — leaving the middle sections to be tested last, Fonkalsrud said.
“Right now were in the midst of finalizing the last intersection for track installation for Santa Monica, which is Sixth Street (at Colorado Avenue),” said Skanska spokesperson Torri D. Hill. ” We’ve had to slow it up a little bit because of the rain but if it stops raining by tomorrow we’ll be done by this weekend.”
The rain has halted construction for two days this fall, a minor setback, according to Fonkalsrud.
The next hurdles include electrical work and station construction. Station work is 70 percent complete, according to a recent release from Expo, and canopies are going in at several locations.
Fonkalsrud estimates that overall construction is somewhere between 80 and 85 percent complete.
Many of the coming projects will improve aesthetics. Nearly all of Colorado Avenue, which is split by the light rail, will be repaved, Fonkalsrud said.
Trees will go in along Colorado, likely by February, he said.
“The bike path is marching along,” he said. “We’re working right now in Santa Monica between Stewart and Centinela. We’ll be working concurrently in L.A. and bouncing back into Santa Monica but there’s a lot of infrastructure that goes in for the lighting and the joinage and bike path before we actually put the asphalt down.”
After construction is complete, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority will conduct three to six months of testing.
Expo officials say the construction project remains on-schedule to be completed by next year, though many have speculated that it may be ahead of schedule.
Former L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky told the audience of January’s State of the City address that Expo was under budget and ahead of schedule. It could open earlier than projected, he said at the time. The trains are currently projected to begin taking on passengers by early 2016.
The lack of rain during this record-level drought has made things easier for construction teams, Expo officials have acknowledged.
Construction officials plan for the possibility of rain by assuming there will be around 10 rainouts each year, Fonkalsrud said. Even with the storms this fall, there have been fewer rainouts than Skanska planned for.