You might have noticed trains testing along the second phase of the Expo Light Rail (though not in Santa Monica), but the construction process has fallen behind schedule.
Despite the delays, Expo officials are “cautiously optimistic” that the trains will be moving passengers by March of April of next year.
“Right now, as far as substantial completion goes, the contractor’s probably three to four months behind schedule but as far as construction goes,” Expo’s Chief Project Officer Eric Olson told the Daily Press. “We’re still looking at construction being done in the September, early October timeframe, which would then allow Metro to go into their pre-revenue operations and testing, which we still think supports a March or April revenue service date, which is pretty much what we’ve all been looking at over the last year or year and half of the project.”
The contractor, Skanska Rados, has had issues getting track work installed, Olson said. Additionally, a “very special vibration dampening piece of equipment” had to be installed.
“We had some settlement on a retaining wall at Centinela Avenue so we had to hold off doing some things there,” Olson said. “That kind of slowed the track work up a little bit also.”
When asked who’s responsible for the delays, Olson said it depends who you ask.
“I mean, there’s a little bit on both sides associated with us falling behind a little bit,” he said.
The Daily Press reached out to several Skanska Rados officials about delays.
Jay Weisberger, their West Coast spokersperson responded: “We are also optimistic that we will be able to complete the project for revenue service next spring. We are working closely with the Expo Authority and our subcontractors to ensure completion in that time frame.”
At the end of the day, Olson said, an early construction completion would not necessarily have impacted the opening of the second phase of the project.
“It’s highly unlikely because Metro is also in a vehicle procurement and we need the vehicles to open up the line,” he said. “If you look at the last Expo Board meeting, Metro did a presentation on the vehicle delivery and they’re looking at the vehicles starting to come in at the end of June, early July. Realistically they couldn’t have gone into pre-revenue until sometime in September, October to begin with, so that’s why we’ve always been forecasting a revenue operation date in March or April.”
Trains started testing in Los Angeles last month but they’re still a few months away from Santa Monica, Olson said.
“It’s probably going to be in July,” he said. “You might see a car out there in mid to late June. Come July you’ll start seeing the trains running pretty regularly up and down Colorado Avenue and the rest of the guideway in Santa Monica.”
They’re running tests in Santa Monica, he said, but not yet of trains.
“It’s coming, it’s coming,” Olson said. “We’re pushing. The contractor’s pushing to make sure we hit these dates so we just need to stay on top of that and make sure when we’re testing, hopefully we don’t have any problems with the testing, any issues there. So far, so good, so we’re cautiously optimistic that we’re going to stay on schedule.”