Regional Connector ushers in a new transit experience for LA
The highly anticipated Regional Connector brings a smooth commute to the heart of Downtown Los Angeles this summer. The project, which began in 2014, is a 1.9-mile light rail subway that was recently delivered by our USA Civil (USC) West team. Aside from being an underground engineering marvel, the project stands out for its safety excellence, investment in the Angelino community and innovative application of technologies.
The recent completion of the $1.8 billion Regional Connector design-build project concludes nearly a decade’s worth of work.
Executed by Regional Connector Constructors (RCC), a joint venture (JV) between Skanska, Traylor Brothers, Inc., and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), Regional Connector has been an exercise in partnership and problem solving at every turn.
“This was an extremely challenging project, and what looks good on paper can often be a different story when you get out into the field and begin construction. The top of Historic Broadway Station, for instance, has what we call a load transfer system, and it contains a tremendous amount of rebar and high-strength concrete,” says Justin Waguespack, vice president and Regional Connector project director.
“This called for mass concrete operations where our crews continuously monitored temperatures and utilized specialized blankets to ensure that the super-hot concrete was not going to flash off too quickly.”
The opening of Little Tokyo/Arts District, Historic Broadway and Grand Avenue Arts/Bunker Hill stations bring a much-needed transit upgrade to the City of Angels.
Improvements connect three existing light rail transit (LRT) systems and might reduce overall commute times for some by up to 20 minutes.
Riders can now enjoy service from East LA to Santa Monica and Azusa to Long Beach.
Los Angeles Times suggests thinking “of the connector as the glue between five sets of tracks that reach downtown LA,” and says, “it will reduce the number of times you’ll have to get out of one train and wait for another.”
Getting to opening day required RCC to tread carefully and get creative when it came to building out underground utilities and infrastructure.
“The wet and dry utilities located under this historic downtown Los Angeles area are some of the oldest in the entire region. The fragility of some of these utilities made it more difficult to handle during excavation,” says Justin.
“Relocating utilities was more extensive than we first anticipated and required us to redesign, replace or relocate much of the underground infrastructure.”
To get through the process, the JV team created a unique construction sequencing plan that showed existing utilities along the 400-foot station zone and revealed where repairs or replacements were needed.
The plan for securing exposed electrical, telephone, fiber optic and natural gas lines was to enclose them in suspended casing.
Mirroring that process for the 10-foot diameter reinforced concrete storm drain wasn’t as straightforward.
In light of the weight and structural integrity of the existing drain, RCC decided to leverage Hobas pipe, a new innovation for LA County.
Hobas is a centrifugally case, fiberglass-reinforced, polymer mortar pipe that’s six times lighter, stronger, less expensive, and more efficient than other solutions.
To ensure success, the team leaned on learnings from our First Street Tunnel project where Hobas pipes were also installed.
The team also enhanced logistical planning and overall project quality by using building information modeling (BIM).
Overlaying BIM models with 2D or 3D street utilities made it simple to locate and plan around underground obstructions.
Engaging and supporting the LA community has been a priority since day one.
Highlights include 136 Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs) receiving more than $243 million from our Regional Connector project.
Our team also held an eight-week small business bootcamp onsite that equipped local businesses to learn the ins and outs of estimating, billing, project management and project labor agreements.
Additionally, total craft worker hours totaled 5.2 million and targets to engage minority, disadvantaged and apprentice workers were exceeded.
To get to opening day, a strong jobsite safety culture has been the great unifier and a picture of safety quality at scale.
The RCC team worked over 6.2 million safe work hours without a lost-time incident, all while working in the thick of high-risk conditions.
Regional Connector required the team to work adjacent to and under existing operational or occupied space, and tie-in an active rail.
“It’s not an overstatement to say that it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of a project like this,” says Justin.
“There’s so much to be proud of, including everything from the technicality of the entire scope of work to the amazing safety culture maintained throughout this multi-year project. I want to thank everyone that contributed to the success of this massive endeavor.”