Next Stop: The Los Angeles Metro Rail

by Paul Tarricone, Assistant Editor; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 345 East 47th Street, New York City, NY.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1990, Vol. 60, Issue 2, Pg. 46-49

Document Type: Feature article


The Los Angeles Metro Rail is a $6.5 billion light and heavy rail system, which may be entirely completed by the year 2000. A 22 mi segment of the 150 mi light rail system, connecting Long Beach to L.A., will open in the summer of 1990. As for the heavy rail subway, its opening has been delayed at least three times; phase 1 (a 4.4 mi stretch of five stations) is scheduled for completion in September 1993. Phase 2 will follow. Despite the good soil and good weather of Los Angeles, phase 1 has sputtered. Gassy tunnels and the risk of building settlement in the densely populated metropolis have both caused problems. Ground water was not generally an issue, but when a ground water problem did strike, it was costly; water severely contaminated with hydrogen sulfide took designers by surprise and forced construction of an on-site wastewater treatment plant at Union Station. The 2,400 gpm plant cost in excess of $2 million and took about a year to design and build. In addition, engineers had to design for the likelihood of an earthquake, even though there are no seismic codes in California governing underground construction. Meanwhile, budget overruns and delays have been common, making for a bumpy ride on the L.A. Metro subway project.

Subject Headings: Subways | Light (artificial) | Railroad stations | Groundwater pollution | Rail transportation | Light rail transit | Water pollution | Water treatment plants | Los Angeles | California | United States

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