POLITICS/TRANSPORTATION: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Downtown Regional Connector, budget increase?: "Metro officials want to increase the budget for this downtown subway project -- again" ....
* Los Angeles Times: "Metro officials want to increase the budget for this downtown subway project -- again" - From the LAT:
Three years ago, when transportation officials began an ambitious project to connect a tangle of light-rail lines beneath downtown Los Angeles, they said construction would cost $1.36 billion. Since then, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has twice sought more funding for the Downtown Regional Connector, including a request this week for an additional $199 million. If approved, the increase will raise the cost of the project to $1.75 billion, 28% higher than originally budgeted.
Officials blamed the latest increase on delays arising from the complex task of locating and moving long-buried utility lines, many of which were not listed in government records. The regional connector has become “about 6% construction project, with the remainder being a utilities project,” Metro director Jacqueline Dupont-Walker said Thursday at a committee meeting.
Officials also acknowledged that . . . . . . . .
Metro staff warned in a report that more delays and cost increases “are to be expected” if any new problems arise over the next four years, including difficulties securing permission for crews to work late at night and early in the morning.
The report said planners had not budgeted adequately for unexpected cost increases . . . . . . . .
The latest budget increase request comes as Metro’s Washington seeks more authority to negotiate contract modifications without board approval. Currently, any so-called change order of more than $1 million requires a board vote, which Washington said can add weeks of costly delays to fast-moving projects. Instead, he has proposed negotiating all contract changes without board approval, unless they increase the total budget, with monthly reports provided to directors.
The board is expected to take up the proposal on change orders next week. On Thursday, board members expressed concern that granting more leeway to negotiate changes could reduce transparency and add to cost overruns. “The idea that the CEO could approve change order after change order after change order, and then tell us, ‘We’ve hit the top’ — is that not a possibility? ” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. She added that the idea gave her “a little heartburn.”