Project Management Institute

Los Angeles Metro Rail

A world-class rail system

Project Management in Action

1993 PMI Project Of The Year

Edward McSpedon, P.E., Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Los Angeles, California


The Los Angeles subway has been called the country's “most ambitious art-in-transit” program. Every station has new surprises. Shown here is the ceramic tile mural El Sol, created by artist Francisco Letelier for the Westlake/MacArthur Park Metro Red Line station. The mural dramatizes the cultural history and landscape of the MacArthur Park community.


In January 1993, the first 4.4 miles of the Metro Red Line subway opened in downtown Los Angeles. This first segment of Los Angeles' first modern subway is the realization of many years of planning, engineering and construction. It is the central element of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (LACMTA) 30-year plan for its integrated transportation system. Its engineering achievements are only exceeded by its benefit to the community. When complete, the 23-mile Metro Red Line subway will fan out from downtown in three directions, to the east, north and mid-city areas.

Numerous technical and management challenges were addressed during the building of the Red Line. There was also a social change. The greatest challenge was to change Los Angelenos' attitude about getting out of their cars and into trains—no mean feat, given the role the automobile played in the region's development. The private automobile influenced the physical layout, size and society of Los Angeles during its rapid postwar growth. Railways have not figured in the public transportation equation until very recently.

Paradoxically, the railways helped to create the dependence on cars when, in the late 19th century, railroad companies were encouraged to open up the American West with offers of cheap government land. They built tracks and then sold off the surrounding land at a profit. This brought about the early development of far-flung agricultural communities dispersed around Los Angeles. As a result, the city's inhabitants were second only to Detroit-hub of the American car industry—in their haste to adopt the car early this century. Consequently, the land-use patterns that made the private car so appealing to Southern Californians have worked against the establishment of a public transportation system.


The idea of an underground railway was proposed seriously in 1925, only to be rejected by the county's voters. Even then, city dwellers in Los Angeles who could have benefited from a subway were outnumbered by people from the rural communities who were already dependent on road transport. In the urban environment of 1980, the will of the people changed. With passage of a sales tax measure, the voters mandated finding for the integrated Metro system.

The challenge of building a rail system in Los Angeles has been met by a team made up of the Rail Construction Corporation (RCC) (the construction arm of the LACMTA) and its consultants and contractors. Together, they have formed the project organization that they refer to as TEAMETRO. With the rail effort seriously underway, Los Angeles County's residents are breathing a sigh of relief as they climb aboard the newly-introduced trains, and hope that they will reduce congestion, cut pollution and improve their quality of life. This article chron-icles how the Rail Construction Corporation took the mandate of the people and turned it into the best-managed, award-winning rail construction program in North America.


Transportation in Los Angeles has gone from no system to a 1,000-mile electric trolley system, to an all automobile and bus system, and now to a network of heavy rail, light rail and buses to help meet its ever-increasing transportation demands.

Local public transportation first appeared in the area in the 1870s, when the population was fewer than 10,000 residents. Around 1910, after consolidations of many competitive interests, two large railway companies were formed to provide urban, suburban and interurban transportation.

After World War II, the railroads needed new equipment, track rehabilitation and more paying patrons. Lack of grade separation of railway facilities from other traffic increased commute times and encouraged travel by private autos. During the last three decades, only a bus network served Los Angeles County. The current system runs 2,500 buses and carries 1.3 million passengers daily, but much more is needed to serve a growing population in a county that spreads over 4,000 square miles.

The 14 million people living in the Los Angeles Basin today own six million cars. Travel between counties in Southern California is so significant that transportation planning for L.A. County must also consider the surrounding counties, an area of about 12,000 square miles. The total population of the region will probably climb to between 21 million and 23 million by 2010 and the number of vehicle journeys each day will top 60 million—up from 45 million in 1990.

Clearly, Los Angeles County can no longer rely on autos and buses to meet its transportation demands.


Los Angeles' 30-year vision of the future is a fully integrated transportation system called Metro, which will be an integrated network of underground and surface rail lines, buses and an improved freeway system with new routes, high-technology aids to improve traffic flow, toll roads, and car pool lanes. The Metro program includes tow trucks that patrol freeways to clear disabled vehicles, car parks at outlying rail stations, “dial-a-ride” services for the elderly and handicapped, and expanded and improved maintenance of Los Angeles County's 500 miles of cycleways.

The Metro Red Line is a 23-mile subway that forms the backbone of the 400-mile Metro Rail System, one of the largest public works programs in North America today. The Metro Red Line is divided into three separate, billion-dollar, multi-year projects that are under simultaneous design and construction. The first project, Segment 1, extends 4.4 miles under downtown Los Angeles. The second project, Segment 2, will be 6.7 miles long and will have eight stations. One branch will extend west from downtown and the second branch will run northward. The third project, Segment 3, will extend the subway through the mountains into the San Fernando Valley, north of the city, as well as into the mid-city areas east and west of downtown Los Angeles.

Other projects within the Metro Rail System include light rail lines: the 22-mile Metro Blue Line, operating between downtown Los Angeles and downtown Long Beach; the Metro Green Line, 20 miles scheduled to open in May 1995, located in the center of the new Glenn Anderson Freeway and connecting the communities of Norwalk and El Segundo, with linkage to Los Angeles International Airport; the Metro Pasadena Line, presently in preliminary engineering, which will connect Los Angeles to the city of Pasadena.

The final component of the Metro Rail System is Metrolink, a regional commuter rail network that links five counties and is being built using existing freight tracks. It started operations in late 1992.


The overriding factor in the management and technical success of this program is that the RCC developed and is committed to a specific mission and vision. The stated mission of the RCC is to build a world-class rail system for the Los Angeles community and its vision is to become the model of excellence in public works design and construction. The RCC is doing this through its TEAMETRO partnership with consultants, contractors, municipal agencies, and the community.

The RCC developed a mission statement to support the overall purpose of its team and to answer the question “why are we here?” It is requirement-driven, customer-focused, long-term-oriented and is the framework for all activities of the agency:

To Build a World-Class Metro Rail
System for the Los Angeles Community

The RCC has a positive image of the team's future. Its vision statement reflects what the team would like to accomplish or become, over and above achieving the mission. The key ingredients of the RCC's vision statement are that it is shared and supported by all team members and that it is positive and inspiring:

To Be the Model of Excellence in Public
Works Design and Construction Through
our TEAMETRO partnership

RCC senior management made it a priority to dedicate significant effort to developing a set of values to which all members of TEAMETRO could subscribe. The senior management team contributed resources to ensure that the values were communicated and became shared by all participants. To instill the mission and vision and effect the transference of values to all participants in TEAMETRO, senior management encouraged a series of team building workshops. Through these working sessions, all parties were able to embrace an un-yielding commitment to the following shared values:

  • Safety and security
  • Total quality
  • Fairness
  • Individual initiative
  • Clear and open public dialogue
  • Timeliness
  • Creativity
  • Fiscal responsibility
  • Honesty
  • Teamwork
  • The environment and communities served

The success of the team building effort was a major factor in ensuring the successful management of the project and of the whole rail construction program.


Metro Red Line Segment 1 is the first of three segments to be completed in the entire $ 9 billion subway system. It extends 4.4 miles under downtown Los Angeles, with five stations serving key civic, business and cultural areas along the route. It is a conventional two-track, steel-wheel, heavy-rail system with double crossovers at two stations to provide operational flexibility. Being entirely subsurface, the line segments were constructed by tunneling machines, while stations and crossovers were excavated by cut-and-cover construction techniques. Additional subway and surface tracks connect the main line with the yard and shops facility, which will serve the entire system.

The RCC'S Role

In 1980,27 years of studies, proposals and public meetings culminated in voter approval of funding for the rapid transit system for Los Angeles County. After decades of air pollution and traffic congestion, Los Angeles County voters recognized the need for improved public transportation and passed a series of propositions establishing local funding for public transit. The first rail line, the light rail Blue Line, was started in 1985 and opened for service in 1990. Design and construction were entirely managed by the RCC.

In 1990, management of the Metro Red Line construction was transferred from the then Rapid Transit District (RTD), an operations-focused agency, to the RCC, which had a successful track record in rail construction. This change in management responsibility for the project was an extremely complex undertaking, requiring a great deal of planning and a carefully executed transition effort.

With construction at mid-point and the activity level at its peak, certain critical issues stood in the way of the project's successful completion on time and within budget. The first priority was to obtain an accurate assessment of project status in order to identify areas needing priority attention and to find opportunities for savings. TEAMETRO proceeded to address the schedule, claims backlog, organizational structure and delegation of authority.

The RCC commissioned a technical, financial and schedule audit of the project. Following the audit, the completion cost was established at $ 1.450 billion. The schedule for revenue operations date was established at September 1, 1993. The audit identified a number of high-priority performance areas that were on the critical path.

In order to get up and running as quickly as possible, weekly transition team meetings were held and a formal Management Transition Plan was developed. The transition effort was concentrated in a six-month program with specific steps and milestones. The primary objective of the transition period was to keep the management changes as transparent as possible to the construction contractors to ensure that the transition had no negative impact on field production and/or project progress.

The success of the transition was apparent when the project schedule showed signs of improvement and the first billing cycle after the legal assignment of contracts to RCC was performed “on time.” This success was directly related to TEAMETRO's irnplementation of its mission and vision. By incorporating the philosophy of the team into every decision it made, TEAMETRO was able to identify its problems accurately, set a mechanism in place to address the problems and then implement the appropriate actions to resolve the issues.

Some of the activities used to help keep the project on track:

  • Baseline documents were established during final design.
  • Items critical to the construction phase were studied and plans were developed to expedite procurement and construction activities.
  • Manuals and procedures covering quality assurance and control, safety and security, and other critical requirements were prepared and distributed.
  • Coordination was established with utility companies and various public agencies, and Master Agreements executed in order to avoid delays.
  • Computerized systems were used to monitor costs and schedules.
  • Configuration control/claims control systems were used to maintain contract integrity, monitor interfaces between contracts, and process claims as expeditiously as possible.
  • Comprehensive bid solicitation procedures were developed.
  • Work Agreements to minimize work interruptions and cost overruns were established.


The Metro Red Line has met significant technological and construction challenges. The presence of hydrocarbon gases, the possibility of encountering old, abandoned oil wells, the treatment of contaminated underground water prior to discharge, and the high seismic activity in the region called for unique design and construction solutions.

As a construction project, LA's Metro Red Line is world-class for many reasons. It has variously been called “the biggest civil engineering project now running in America” and “the eighth engineering wonder of the world.” One of the most notable reasons for designating this system as world-class is that its tunnel design was determined by a combination of conditions unique among the world's subways: the tunnels are located in a seismically active region, the surrounding soils are rich in hydrocarbons, and a portion of the subway alignment runs under major buildings. Any one of these conditions would create a significant challenge for any subway. The designers of Segment 1 had to deal with all three.

Seismic Considerations

California's best-known earthquake fault, the San Andreas, runs northwest and southeast along the San Bernardino Mountains, approximately 50 miles from downtown LA There are also a number of smaller faults within the LA Basin.

With the basis for seismic activity so nearby, the challenge was to design structures that could withstand the effects of earthquakes. This required establishing all-new design criteria, since no seismic code had been established for under. ground structures. To resist the shaking effects of earthquakes, the established design goal was to provide ductile structures that could move together with the ground as seismic waves pass, accept the resulting displacements, localize and minimize damage, and provide means to facilitate repairs.

The solution was to design a tunnel lining that is relatively thin, yet strong enough to meet all safety standards—and flexible enough so that when the ground shakes the lining goes along for the ride. The tunnels are also protected by an average overlying ground cover of 60 feet. Since the magnitude of ground shaking decreases in relation to depth, an underground structure will experience less movement than a surface building.

Geochemical Factors

In prehistoric times, the L.A. Basin was covered by swamps, which were later compressed into oil fields. Underground methane and hydrogen sulfide gases are the petroleum-related remnants of these fields, and pose a potential danger for explosion. To prevent seepage of the gases into the tunnels, designers specified the installation of a 100-mil-thick, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) membrane around all underground structures, coupled with a ventilation system capable of purging any gas that might find its way into the tunnels. Although previously used for waterproofing, this is the first use of HDPE to impede gases from entering subway structures. During construction, elaborate monitoring systems were used to quantify and manage the uncharted presence of hydrocarbons. Checks were made for gas in the tunnel every four hours in order to protect workers and prevent explosions.

Overlying Structures

Subways are typically constructed beneath streets, following the path of least resistance. The ordinary challenge is to deal with a maze of utility lines, often uncharted, which must either be supported during excavation or rerouted and replaced while maintaining services. At an average depth of 60 feet, Segment 1's tunnels were well below existing utilities.

An unusual challenge presented itself, however, where the alignment makes a 90-degree turn from Hill Street to 7th Street and passes directly beneath two blocks of 20 major structures. Their foundations extend 20-40 feet below surface. This challenge of proximity was compounded by the sandy soil through which the tunnels were to pass. Because some ground movement and settlement is always associated with soft-ground tunnels, there was a need to protect these buildings while completing the tunnels.

The usual means of building protection is underpinning-providing additional structural support to reinforce the building's foundation. This was not practical because of the foundations, so a specialized grouting technique was used to control movement of the soil above the tunnels. The technique, known as compaction grouting, required the installation of steel pipes, measuring 2 to 3 inches in diameter, above the subway's alignment in advance of tunnel construction. Four pipes were drilled into the ground every 10 feet above each tunnel to within a few feet of the tunnel's crown. The pipes were arranged in an arch-shaped pattern, with each pipe set 10 feet radially outward. As tunneling occurred, a stiff grout mixture of cement, sandy loam and water was pumped through the steel pipes under high pressure to solidify the soil and help control settlement.

An even more granular soil was encountered in several places, necessitating the use of a third method of support—chemical grouting-to prevent the soil from caving in. The tunneling contractor performed this grouting by drilling several holes into the tunnel face, inserting pipes, and pumping a sodium silicate grout into them to fill the voids within the soil.

Given the nature of the soils through which the tunnels passed, settlements of up to 2 to 3 inches were predicted using normal tunneling techniques. By applying multiple support systems, a minimal settlement of 3/8 inch occurred. Use of these innovative support methods instead of standard un-derpinning supports also accelerated the construction schedule, thereby saving the project millions of dollars.

By employing a variety of conventional tunneling techniques together with specialized grouting and a lining designed for flexibility and minimal gas intrusion, the RCC has achieved efficient, cost-effective solutions to a set of unique conditions.


The Team

TEAMETRO is made up of the RCC, its consultants and its contractors. TEAMETRO is committed to building a world-class rail system and to being the model of excellence in rail construction. Consequently, all design and construction supports this mission and vision.

The team management approach to building the Metro Red Line includes six elements, as graphically shown on the TEAMETRO organization chart (see Figure 1). The RCC staff, with support from LACMTA departments, manage the work of the Project Management Oversight team, the engineering management consultants/subconsultants, the construction management consultants/subconsultants and the construction contractors and equipment suppliers and their subconsultants.

The project objectives and scope were managed through five basic principles:

  1. Effective project delivery demands a team effort that combines the skills and talents of LACMTA, RCC, consultants, contractors, numerous city agencies and funding partners in constructive, cooperative and highly productive non-adversarial relationships based upon fairness, equity and mutual trust.
  2. Achievement and maintenance of public confidence is critical to the long-term success and necessitates consistently professional perform-ance, sensitivity to public needs and concerns, and high ethical standards.
  3. Strategically structured contractual relationships and the appropriate application of financial incentives area catalyst to achieving superior performance and outstanding results.
  4. Adequate authority levels must be delegated to the project organization, allowing decisions to be made in a timely fashion by those closest to the situation.
  5. Only by filly using the tremendous resources and abilities of the disadvantaged, women-owned and minority-owned businesses in the Los Angeles region will the full potential for excellence be realized.

RCC's Organizational Form

In evaluating the best organizational configuration, the RCC considered the four alternatives as documented by the Project Management Institute: Pure Functional, Weak Matrix, Strong Matrix, Pure Project. Based on the mix of the project characteristics, RCC is configured as a strong, project-oriented matrix organization. As owner, RCC determined to operate with a lean staff. The role of RCC staff is focused on the management and oversight of the rail construction program.

RCC also chose to use a systemwide engineering management consuming firm that is responsible for preliminary engineering for each project and for managing the section/final designers. Various consultants provide construction management services. RCC also implemented a systemwide Project Management Over-sight (PMO) consultant, modeled after the Federal Transportation Administration PMO, which oversees the Metro Rail projects.

Schedule and Budget

Schedule. Revenue operations of Segment 1, established for September 1993, actually occurred eight months ahead of schedule. The team was inspired to make scheduling challenges work for them and not against them. For instance, staff members who had worked on a transit project in Florida knew that the Florida vehicles were compatible with the Segment 1 requirements. When the subway vehicles on order for Segment 1 were not available in time for the required operational testing, Miami/Metro-Dade Transit vehicles were leased for on-site testing. This one act of inspiration, guided by strong project management experience, was a critical factor in preparation of the early opening.

Figure 1. TEAMETRO Organization


Another example of creative management occurred when a fire broke out in a segment of the Metro Red Line tunnel under construction. Public information issues and management credibility risks were obvious and required immediate action. The affected tunnel segment was a “near critical path” contract. Within nine hours of the detection of the fire, a three-prong action plan was mobilized: an Independent Investigation Team, a Rapid Reconstruction Team and a Schedule Recovery Team. All three were successful in attaining the stated objectives.

Also, during the months just prior to revenue operations, the Project Team met at 6:30 a.m. daily, including week-ends. This became a “real-time communication” management tool, allowing issues that occurred yesterday to be discussed and solved today. Today's activities were restated, clarified and committed to, and tomorrow's activities were re-identified, scheduled and prepared for. This tool became a crucial factor in the early opening of the line. The Project Team took “ownership” of these breakfast meetings and used this opportunity to manage their time down to the last detail.

Budget. The Segment 1 budget was established at $ 1.450 billion at the half-way point in construction. The project cost growth, through opening of service and into project close-out, has been zero. Prior to RCC's management, the project cost had increased as construction proceeded.

To alleviate time and cost impacts caused by disputes, resolution mechanisms, including a Disputes Review Board, were incorporated into all large contracts. A rigorous cost forecasting procedure was also implemented to assess the impacts of management and/or policy decisions on overall project cost. A policy to seek competitive bids or quotes for change order work was instituted.

All major professional services contracts included incentives for cost reduction and control. Professional service consultants received greater fees based on their performance in relation to established cost and schedule goals.

Contracting and Change Control

The contracting environment. The RCC offers three types of contracts: professional services, construction, equipment and supplies. Professional services are procured through a competitive evaluation process, construction contracts are awarded to the low bidder, and equipment contracts are negotiated procurements. The competitive bid process is managed using standard terms and conditions, tightly-built procurement schedules and out-reach programs for small, minority- and women-owned businesses.

The outreach effort for Los Angeles' $ 183 billion integrated transportation program offers significant opportunities for small, minority- and women-owned firms. It is RCC's policy to provide assistance to these firms to successfully compete for Metro Rail work. In fact, 25 percent of all contracts went to small or minority firms last year.

Success Through Excellent Professional Services (STEPS) is a program that provides seminars to assist small, minority- and women-owned businesses seeking and holding contracts with the RCC. The program is geared exclusively toward professional service firms—such as engineering, environmental, architectural, planning and design-interested in participating on the Metro Rail program.

STEPS offers minority firms a series of seminars to help them understand the RCC's contracting environment and to give them tips on marketing their services. The program focuses on firms learning how to market their services to the prime contractors on the project. Through formal presentations, case studies and brainstorming, the small companies learn how to do business with the RCC and its prime consultants. The agenda is also designed to create networking opportunities by bringing together prime contractors and their potential subcontractors.

Change Control System. The Change Control System (CCS), using a wide-area-network, was developed as a team effort between RCC and consultants, and provides a real-time database system for input, tracking, processing and trending changes to construction contracts. The CCS has been so successful that other public works agencies have requested demonstration of the system and the Dallas Light Rail Project (DART) has already installed CCS.

The system was developed to meet the complex management needs of this multi-project, multi-billion-dollar rail program. Unlike tracking systems commonly used by other agencies, CCS is a proactive system that provides real-time information and documentation, not just monthly or quarterly status updates.

CCS tracks the progress of construction changes, and keeps tabs on costs. It provides a common database for both construction managers and the engineering management consultant. It monitors performance related to construction changes, requests for information, and response to contract submittals. It generates needed forms that simplify the paperwork process and provides change control data at computer speed. It has been used to support the Lessons Learned program and it keeps policy makers and management continually informed of significant developments.

Since CCS was implemented, change order duplication of effort and associated costs have been sharply reduced. The document preparation load for the nearly 200 CCS users has decreased by as much as 75 percent, while productivity has increased anywhere from 40 to 400 percent. For example, when CCS was applied to one of the Metro Red Line contracts, the backlog of field office change notices dropped by 85 percent.

CCS data was recently used to compare Red Line Segment 2 change costs to those of Red Line Segment 1. The comparison showed a 61 percent reduction in change volume and an 81 percent reduction in change costs for the current projects when compared at a similar point in project completion.

Figure 2. Metro Red Line Segment Project Cost History


Total Quality Management Through Team Management

With the management transition came anew philosophy on how to get the job done. The new management group knew it needed to work as a cohesive, hands-on team. This was manifested by its commitment to quality through its Partnership for Excellence in Rail Construction (PERC) program.

PERC is a formal acknowledgment that all participants have a stake in the outcome of the project, that all have a vested interest in the project's success, and that success is realized through partnership. The purpose is to foster the concepts of total quality and partnering, thereby creating a culture of:

  • Win-win attitudes
  • Teamwork
  • Continuous performance improvement
  • Recognition and celebration.

The partnering effort works as follows:

  1. A team is formed among the key players of organizations supporting a selected contract or project.
  2. The team has a workshop (called an “alignment” meeting) with outside facilitation to identify a mission, vision and key results areas to keep the team focused on what matters most.
  3. Roles and responsibilities are clearly defined.
  4. Mechanisms for issue resolution at the lowest possible levels are set in place.
  5. Incentives are developed for implementing value engineering ideas and programs.
  6. Opportunities for work process improvements that address key results areas are identified and teams are formed to address them.

Some of the benefits of partnering are:

  • Reduced litigation and claims
  • Increased teamwork and better communications among team members
  • More effective implementation of value engineering and work process improvements.

The Work Process Improvement (WPI) program, in particular, has proven to be a significant team-building effort. The emphasis has been on individuals looking for small improvements in everything they do, day after day. No one waits for a “big break-through.” Rather, as one discovers a process that is not working, a team is formed and the problem is attacked at the lowest organizational level. To date, over 40 WPIs have been suggested. Nearly 40 percent have resulted in implemented improvements and are in the measurement phase. Ten percent of the proposed WPIs resolved themselves merely by the attention focused on the problem area. Some recent results include:

  • An audit process was developed for change orders and change notices over $ 200K.
  • Third party invoice signatures were reduced from 960 to 156 annually.
  • Consultant work order negotiation process was improved and clarified.
  • Recommendations were made for reducing the time to acquire real estate from fourteen to nine months.

As a way to properly acknowledge the importance of each partnership participant, the TEAMETRO Awards for Excellence were established. The awards program is open to any TEAMETRO individual or group. The areas in which awards are given include Safety, Quality, Metro Team Spirit, Construction, Engineering, Cost Savings, Schedule Improvement, Community Spirit, Innovation, Affirmative Action and the President's Hard Hat for Excellence.

An Owner-Controlled Insurance Program

The magnitude of the Red Line project required an innovative and proactive approach to risk management. The original managing agency took a great step forward in researching and implementing the Owner-Controlled Insurance Program (OCIP), developed by an MIT professor in the early ’80s. This unique form of self-insurance is being underwritten by Lloyd's of London and is presented by them as a model.

The OCIP provides cost-effective and necessary insurance for the entire rail program. The OCIP provides acceptable levels of loss retention and approximates being self-insured. In addition to the LACMTA and RCC, OCIP coverage is extended to the project consultants and contractors of any tier that provides services on the Metro Rail projects.

Coverages in the OCIP include:

  • Workers’ Compensation and Employers Liability
  • Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability
  • Builders Risk
  • Railroad Protective Liability
  • Errors and Omissions
  • Professional Liability

Construction Safety

The Metro Rail System has an established safety and security program that emphasizes practical, sound and effective accident prevention techniques to reduce—if not eliminate—the likeli-hood of human suffering and economic loss. The program was designed to comply with all federal, state and local health and safety requirements, as well as the best practices of the construction industry.

The President's Safety Committee was established to ensure top-to-bottom safety program visibility. The president of RCC established this committee, made up of senior executives from the TEAMMETRO organizations, to meet monthly to monitor the implementation of the safety program. Accomplishments include sophisticated data gathering to measure and monitor lost-time accidents.

An independent, comprehensive safety audit is performed on all Metro Rail projects each quarter. Potential risks are identified and action plans implemented to forestall any negative exposure.

Recommendations from audits have led to such initiatives as:

  • The Construction Safety Education Program was developed as a training program specifically for RCC. This program is far reaching, from office personnel to the contractors and craft workers in the field.
  • An awareness/signage program was developed for all job sites.
  • The safety rewards and recognition program was enhanced to give greater emphasis and incentives to all levels of personnel involved on the Metro Rail project.
  • A review and overhaul of the safety statistical recordkeeping system was performed and now includes a monthly safety record audit to ensure accuracy of reporting.
  • A twice-monthly safety tips bulletin is distributed to all construction job sites for use at toolbox meetings.


The Metro Red Line Segment 1 has provided a tremendous volume of information to the project management, design and construction fields. In order to best use the information gained from Segment 1, a formalized Lessons Learned program is being implemented. The idea is to identify where improvements are needed and then find a way to implement change. Data from 5,600 change notices valued at $ 229 million is being analyzed to discover where savings could be gained on future segments of the Red Line.

Three vital overall lessons were learned. First, on “systemwide contracts,” better-defined contract packages eliminate interface problems between equipment suppliers and station contractors. Second, using the Lessons Learned concept helps the designers address potential problems at an earlier stage, thus eliminating much rework. Third, input from all levels in the organization is valu-able—everyone has an idea or two on how to get the job done better, and communication has increased.

There is an added, unanticipated, benefit from the Lessons Learned program. It has helped to find other ways to reduce cost. For example, as designers look to improve their work, they are discovering and implementing cost-reducing innovations not previously considered. Repackaging Segment 2's tunnel work into a single contract is an example of one innovation that resulted in significant benefits. As with Segment 1, construction of Segment 2's tunnels was originally packaged into several small construction contracts. The idea was to attract many bidders, create competition, and, consequently, keep down costs. However, hindsight demonstrated that a multiplicity of contractors, working side-by-side, actually complicates the coordination of work and may result in duplication of effort rather than reduced costs.

The consolidated tunnel contract has saved several million dollars by: eliminating an additional work site and access shaft; streamlining management (such as construction manager, safety engineer, etc.) to reduce overhead costs; minimizing equipment costs, particularly for expensive tunneling machines; and taking advantage of mass production to create material cost savings. The contract size also encouraged competition among the major heavy construction contractors that were uniquely capable of providing the special expertise needed to execute the work.


The yardstick by which engineering and construction success on the Red Line is measured includes a variety of management and construction criteria held up to the TEAMETRO mission and vision. Some of the major successes include:

  • A construction safety record that is 50 percent better than the national average
  • A contracting program maximizing local hiring and minority business involvement at every level
  • Minimized construction impacts on affected communities
  • On-time operating performance of 98 percent while carrying over two million riders with ridership increasing monthly
  • Industry recognition, including nine distinguished awards
  • Completion of Segment 1 Metro Red Line within budget and eight months ahead of schedule.

The TEAMETRO commitment to build a world-class rail system for the people of Los Angeles is a direct result of the partnership for excellence subscribed to by all members of the design and construction team. i


Edward McSpedon is the executive officer of construction and president of the Rail Construction Corporation (RCC), a subsidiary of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA). He has been with the Authority since January of 1985, and managed the design and construction of the Metro Blue Line and Metro Green Line before assuming his current position. He came to L4CMTA from the engineering firm of Gibbs & Hill, where he was a senior project engineer and regional office manager. Prior to that, he served for 3-1/2 years as program manager for the Urban Mass Transportation Administration and worked for 5-1/2 years in the engineering and construction divisions of the New York Transit Authority. He holds a master's degree in civil engineering from Manhattan College and professional engineering licenses in New York and California.

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.

PMNETwork • JANUARY 1994



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