At L.A. groundbreaking, shoveling dirt before the tunnel-boring machine arrives

Rendering showing how the Regional Connector will pass through downtown L.A.

Los Angeles civic and political officials – and even Star Trek’s George Takei  – joined our joint venture team on September 30 to officially break ground on the Regional Connector, a 1.9-mile underground light-rail link. Among the most complicated aspects of our team’s $918 million design-build assignment – Skanska’s first West Coast underground transit project – are a challenging downtown route that includes tunneling below L.A.’s financial district, and ensuring seamless train operation: the new train control technology our team is providing must properly interface with that of three existing rail lines.

“Besides the tunneling and building three new stations, we are responsible for installing all architectural finishes in those stations, as well as all track systems and automatic train controls along the route,” said Mike Smithson, vice president. “Our team is doing everything except provide the fare collection equipment and supplying the rail cars. When we turn this project over, Metro could, in theory, start passenger service the next day.”

Our Regional Connector Constructors joint venture – also including Traylor Brothers – is providing a twin-tube tunnel with an outside diameter of about 21-and-a-half feet. Nearly a mile of that will be bored with an earth-pressure-balance tunnel-boring machine, with the remainder by cut-and-cover-excavation.

Though the tunneling work might seem to be the main part of the project, Smithson said the stations, track and all the systems and controls comprise most of the budget.

Besides going through the financial district, the project’s alignment passes the Walt Disney Concert Hall and Colburn music school – both of which have strict noise and vibration limits – and it includes L.A.’s Little Tokyo neighborhood, which has cultural needs that our team needs to respect.

The Regional Connector adds to our growing portfolio of L.A. transit work. Another Skanska-led team is undertaking the Exposition Line Phase 2, a six-mile light-rail extension. Also, a Skanska joint venture has been selected for the 3.9-mile first phase of the Purple Line subway extension.

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