Construction on the $1 billion-plus widening of the San Diego (405) Freeway is two thirds completed, but a citizens group says builders have hit major snags and delays, which is not acceptable.
Final completion of the rebuilt 405 has been pushed back into 2014, due to unforeseen delays in relocating major utility lines and moving old Sepulveda Boulevard, Metro construction officials said last week.
Paving work and bridge construction just south of Sunset Boulevard has been delayed while utilities were relocated and Sepulveda was moved to the east, into some large hillsides, construction officials have said. Petroleum, gas, electric, fiber, water, sewer and flood control lines all had to be moved.
A 12-foot-square box encasing a storm drain was not on maps, and its discovery presented a huge unforeseen engineering problem, project manager Mike Barbour told an oversight committee last week. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky's blog reported the comments.
In addition, 16 retaining walls that were put up early in the project were deemed structurally unsound, and were torn out, redesigned and rebuilt.
The delays have peeved a Westwood resident named David Murphy, who heads a group called Angelenos Against Gridlock.
"The impact of delays hit a lot of people, and it cannot be taken lightly," Murphy told City News Service. But he said he thought "Metro staff are doing the best they can, I don't really have a complaint against them."
Murphy singled out contractors, and said they need to "ramp up their level of manpower, hours worked, and concentration of effort."
The widening project is being built under a design-build concept, where contractors and Metro work together on engineering and construction as they go. The agency must pay overtime or acceleration costs, under many circumstances, Metro officials have said in the past.
Widened lanes on the southern end of the project, from Wilshire Boulevard to the Santa Monica (10) Freeway, should be in service this summer, Metro officials said at last week's meeting. North of there sits the troublesome area, and the framework for the second half of the Mulholland Drive bridge has yet to be positioned to allow construction.
When finished, the 10-mile project will include a completely-rebuilt freeway, with 28 re-engineered and rebuilt on- and off-ramps. Exit lanes will be added in both directions, and a new northbound carpool lane will be added to match the southbound carpool lane that was squeezed in decades ago.
The project is a keystone for a 100-mile carpool lane thread across Los Angeles and Orange counties. Metro is the lead agency on the project, and is partnering with Caltrans on it.