FAQs about the 405 Project
How do I contact the 405 Project team?
Go to Metro’s 405 project page, and click the yellow “Contact Us” link on the right side of the page.
Or click here to submit your ideas to our crowdsourcing site.
What type of construction contract does Metro have with Kiewit, the contractor?
The 405 project uses using a design/build contract (as opposed to design-bid-build). To quote a Caltrans newsletter about the project:
Design/build is a method of construction and project development allowing a single entity to provide both design and construction through a single contract between the agency and the contractor.
If you’re not familiar with design/build, read a basic overview at Wikipedia.
Where can I view official project environmental and construction contract documents?
Contract: The contract between Metro and Kiewit is Metro contract number C0882. To access the actual contract, you have to go through Metro Records Services. Copies are available on CD/DVD from Metro Records Services for a nominal CD copying fee. To order a copy, see the Metro Records Services website.
Contract amendments: You can search the Metro board archives for amendments at (check the “Items” box and uncheck the “All Documents” box, and search for “C0882” (the contract number)).
What’s the history of this part of the 405?
From the EIR:
The segment of I-405 within the project limits was originally constructed between 1958 and 1963 as an eight-lane facility consisting of four 12-foot wide lanes in each direction, 8-foot to
10-foot wide outside shoulders, and a 22-foot wide median. The existing lane widths were reduced to a non-standard 11-foot, and the median was used to accommodate the addition of two mixed-flow lanes (one in each direction) through a restriping project in 1985. A non-standard 11-foot wide HOV lane was added to the southbound I-405 from Waterford Street to north of Burbank Boulevard in 2002.
What kind of manpower is being devoted to construction?
Metro published the following total work hours as of July 2012:
- Contractor – Project to Date Work Hours (Design & Construction): 3,938,070
- Total Project to Date Work Hours (Contractor & the IPO Staff): 4,388,864
Why aren’t there more workers on the job?
First, let us say we appreciate all of the incredibly hard work done by construction workers and agency staff (in lean staffing times, in this era of cutbacks). It’s backbreaking work — sadly sometimes tragically dangerous work. We honor all of the hard work being done.
But we’re with you, dear reader — with more workers on the job, common sense dictates that more work can be completed faster. Of course, more construction workers require more equipment. And let’s not forget the agency side: city agencies (which often have to be involved in permitting and engineering plans) are at barebones staffing levels. Ideally, these agencies would have on-site staff at the Metro-Caltrans-Kiewit 405 Project office. And let’s not forget Metro itself: in 2010, Metro staff was cut approximately 20%; we’re sure there are areas within Metro that are still stretched thin, especially as the agency gears up with Measure R projects.
Would it cost money to rev up speed? Of course. But let us not forget the incredible cost of the gridlocked status quo.
What was the original construction timetable?
The project was supposed to be complete already. Here's the original timetable (click the graphic from a 2012 report):
- 2001: Public outreach for project scoping was started.
- 2003: State budget problems cause project outreach to be aborted.
- 2005: Outreach resumes.
- 2007: The draft EIR/EIS is released.
- 2008: The final EIR/EIS is released.
- June 2, 2009: Metro issues a Notice to Proceed to the contractor, Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., with commencement of contract time on August 31, 2009 and a Substantial Completion date of May 31, 2013. Final acceptance of the project was due by November 27, 2013.
- However, the project is now many months delayed.
What are the Reasons for Delays?
Officially, according to Metro staff reports given at Metro’s October 2012 Construction Committee, the main issues relating to delays thus far include “contractor performance, MSE [mechanically stabilized earth] Wall failures, VA, [and] Getty” vicinity issues. In terms of the remaining construction, “utility relocations are critical elements in completing work on time”, and “Area 4 near Sunset appears to be drawing [a] critical path in schedule, which is caused by utility relocations.” Unofficially, we at Angelenos Against Gridlock would also point out the following additional past or current potential issues:
What’s the Deal with Utility Relocations?
There is a huge world underneath the surface that’s invisible to most Angelenos: the myriad utility pipelines and cables that run underground. For more on the issue, see Zev’s Blog. Relocating utility lines is a huge prerequisite that has to be completed before other construction work can be done, and with design-build construction (in which advanced planning isn’t done as far ahead as with design-bid-build), utility work can be needed far along into the project. Angelenos Against Gridlock has called for utility companies to do everything they can to avoid being a bottleneck.
As the Metro graphic at right illustrates, there can be numerous utility lines underground, indeed.
What Were the Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) Wall Failures?
Mechanically Stabilized Earth walls are walls build to artificially reinforce earth (soil) to meet structural needs.
Portions of MSE retaining wall built as part of the 405 project failed. Per Metro staff and as quoted in the Brentwood Patch, the (sub)contractor “used the wrong materials when building the retaining wall,s all of which had to be reconstructed.” Read more here. Metro’s February 2012 monthly project status report has more detail:
The Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) walls failures that were under construction are being investigated by Contractor, Caltrans, and Contractor Insurance Company, and all of these are being reviewed by Metro Quality staff. Contractor appears to have a reason for the failure but is working on contractual issues with the wall subcontractor, and is still having discussions with Caltrans on their concerns with the failed walls. Contractor has indicated they will deconstruct all MSE walls except two, and will replace them with a new wall system.