LA SkyRail Express monorail impression

USA: The Los Angeles Metro board has selected two consortia to develop detailed concepts for the Sepulveda Transit Corridor, a proposed metro or monorail line to provide a high speed and high capacity connection between San Fernando Valley, the Westside and eventually Los Angeles International Airport as an alternative to the congested I-405 motorway through the Sepulveda Pass.

Sepulveda Transit Corridor map

Six expressions of interest in prequalifying for the project were submitted by December 2019, and the five from ACS Infrastructure Development, LA SkyRail Express, Sepulveda Transit Corridor Partners – Bechtel, Sepulveda Transit Corridor Partners – Fengate and Tutor Perini, Parsons & Plenary were deemed to be eligible. All except ACS Infrastructure Development submitted proposals by August 2020, and following evaluation the two highest ranked proposals have been awarded Pre-Development Agreements.

Two proposals

Sepulveda Transit Corridor Partners – Bechtel has been awarded a $69·9m contract to develop a proposal for a metro line which would offer a Valley to Westside journey time of just under 20 min. More than 62% of the route would be underground, with the remainder mostly elevated. The cost is estimated at $10·8bn.

The consortum comprises Bechtel Development Co, Meridiam Sepulveda and American Triple I as equity members. Bechtel Infrastructure would serve as lead contractor, supported by Mott Macdonald, TY Lin, and Systra.

The LA SkyRail Express team of John Laing, Skanska, BYD, Gensler, HDR, ACI and Innova has been awarded a $63·6m contract to develop a proposal for an elevated, rubber-tyred straddle monorail primarily within the I-405 alignment.

The cost is estimated at $6·1bn, with completion by 2030. It would have an initial capacity of more than 14 000 passengers/direction/h, and an ultimate capacity of nearly 19 000, with an operating speed of 105 km/h and a journey time of 24 min.

‘SkyRail is the advanced, high speed, high-capacity monorail system that incorporates advances that have been made in monorail technology through urban applications in many of the world’s largest cities over the past 60 years’, said Anthony Phillips, Co-Head of PPP & Greenfield Projects at John Laing. ‘SkyRail is designed to maximise safety and energy efficiency. Equally as important, LA SkyRail Express can help alleviate the chronic congestion Valley and Westside residents have faced for decades.’

Pre-Development Agreements

The Pre-Development Agreements are designed to enable early contractor involvement in the project, to increase the likelihood that it can be built through a public-private partnership facilitating innovations in design, engineering, construction approach, financing and operations.

Subject to the development work, Metro has the option to continue one of the partnerships through to final design. The teams may have the opportunity to submit a proposal to build and potentially finance the project, but Metro also retains the right to pursue a different project.

‘We have reached a significant milestone in our efforts to envision, design, and develop the United States’ first Pre-Development Agreement specifically for a public transit initiative’, said Metro CEO Phillip A Washington on March 25. ‘As we work diligently to create a world-class transportation system here in the Los Angeles region, we will also be creating a new market for infrastructure innovation that can potentially help us build the most challenging project Metro will ever tackle.’

The Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project has been allocated $9·5bn from the Measure M sales tax approved by voters in 2016 and other local, state and federal sources.