15
Sat, Jun

Sepulveda Pass Transit – Metro Already Three Years Behind on Project and Counting

LOS ANGELES

[This is the twelfth article in a series examining whether Metro can be a trusted steward for the Sepulveda Pass Transit project.]

LA TRANSPO - The sixteenth of my 20 questions to Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins asked: “What has caused Metro already slipping the STCP construction schedule by about two years? Metro’s August 2019 STCP Industry Day presentation on the Pre-Development Agreement Approach to Public-Private Partnership Delivery (P3) highlighted completion of STCP environmental analyses by the end of 2024. Yet Metro has not yet announced dates for release of the STCP Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) or for the Metro Board decision on the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) to be built. Yet when asked about the LPA decision date at Metro’s January 2023 public meeting in Van Nuys, Jody Litvak of Metro Community Relations stated that Metro might release the DEIR toward the end of 2024 and might make the LPA decision in early 2025 (see video clip). This is a two-year schedule slip, and rumors hint that these milestones may slip further. This does not demonstrate Metro’s stewardship and again shows lack of public transparency on the project.”

Metro decided to take the easy way out with a trivial answer because I used “construction schedule” in my question: “Metro does not yet have a construction schedule for this project but expects to provide information on this topic prior to the release of the DEIR, consistent with other Metro projects.” But this was a serious question with seriously negative implications for Metro and when this project gets built.

Metro has now fallen behind their official project schedule by almost three years – not just the two years noted in my question. Metro released their Notice of Preparation (NOP) for the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on November 20, 2021, which kicks off DEIR preparation. They were scheduled to finish the DEIR in 18 months and release it to public by May 2022, as shown below on the Metro Environmental Studies Contract schedule obtained through a California Public Records Act request. At their recent May 11th public meeting, Metro announced the DEIR would not be released until early 2025. It has now taken Metro at least 50 months to prepare the document – almost three times longer than they originally promised. This significant slippage is highlighted in red on the schedule. Metro just keeps slipping and never tells the public about it.


If Metro was a trusted and honest steward for the Sepulveda Pass Transit project, they would present a real project schedule with dates at every public meeting – not the useless cartoon schedule that they always show. They would tell the public when they are falling behind, explain why, highlight how they are trying to recover, and provide schedule updates. They would explain and apologize for the subsequent construction delays. They would provide updated, inflated project costs resulting from schedule slippage. These actions are nothing more than good management practices.

Instead, Metro tells the pubic essentially nothing at public meetings and continues to promise that critical project information will be coming when the DEIR is released. Now that we know Metro has taken an extra three years to prepare the project’s DEIR, maybe it’s time to demand that they provide the pubic information as it becomes available. Maybe it’s time that Metro learned how to manage a project effectively and treat the public as partners, not enemies. I only hope the DEIR is available in early 2025. If it’s not, there should be hell to pay for Metro and the Metro Board.

(Bob Anderson is a nuclear engineer with 50 years engineering and business development expertise in the aerospace and high-technology sectors. He is VP and Transportation Committee Chair of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association. Contact him at [email protected].)