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Build Now, Pay Later: Gold Line Construction Needs Private Companies

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The contract to build the Gold Line Foothill Extension's $18 million basket bridge over the 210 has already been awarded, and now the light-rail's construction authority has opening bidding for the entire 11.5 mile first phase of the extension--from Sierra Madre to Azusa. The Pasadena Star-News reports that the Construction Authority wants the winning contractor to design, build and finance the project, which comes in at about $450 million.

Metro, which will operate the line, will repay the contractor, plus interest, when the money from the Measure R taxes roll in. With the current Measure R funding stream, the line wouldn't be able to open until 2017--the transit agency says they can build the line in four years, and thus want it opened in 2013 or '14. Even with the interest, getting a company to pay for the line upfront will save Metro tens of millions: "This may cost $30 million or $50 million to finance, (but) it may cost $80 million or $100 million if we built it more slowly, Habib Balian, CEO of the Gold Line Foothill Construction Authority told PSN. Having 4 million less car rides each year (between 2014 and 2017) is "probably more valuable than the money," he added.

Another reason for building as quickly as possible is that contractors are starving for jobs--the bid for constructing the basket bridge, awarded to a company called Skanska, came in well below the projected $24 million price tag. Yikes. Skanska executive Mike Aparicio said "there are many potential public-private projects throughout California being talked about - but the Foothill Extension is one of the first that has matured to procurement" and could serve as a model for more. Image by bedlamonbalticavenue via flickr
· Gold Line Tests New Public Private Partnership Model [PSN]
· AECOM Picked to Design Basket Bridge [Curbed LA]
· Transit Acceleration Plan Getting Real [Curbed LA]

Gold Line Basket Bridge

W. Colorado St. & N. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia, CA