LOS ANGELES Metropolitan Transportation Authority has awarded a $600m contract to Eastside LRT Constructors for construction of the 9·6 km East Los Angeles extension of the Gold Line.

The deal was signed by MTA CEO Roger Snoble on June 1, following the approval of a $491m Full Funding Grant Agreement by the Federal Transit Administration. This came just one day before the bid from the joint venture of Washington Group International, Obayashi Corp and Shimmick Construction Corp was due to expire.

Costed at $899m, the extension is expected to open in mid-2009. Running from the present Gold Line terminus at LA Union Station, it will run through the densely-populated and heavily transit-dependent areas of Little Tokyo, Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles, terminating at the junction of Pomona and Atlantic boulevards. There will be eight stations. The high cost reflects the need to build a 2·9 km twin-bore tunnel under Boyle Heights including two underground stations.