A $260-million contract was awarded Wednesday night for the design and construction of a main stretch of a long-planned light rail line between Union Station and Pasadena.
The winning bidder, selected by the Los Angeles-to-Pasadena Metro Blue Line Construction Authority board from a field of four, is a joint venture of Kiewit Pacific Co. and Washington Constructors Inc. It was rated first in both price and overall value by an advisory panel to that board.
"This is our single most significant contract," said Pasadena Councilman Paul Little, a board member of the authority. "This project is moving forward on schedule. It will hopefully be completed by 2003."
But some members of the public questioned whether the bid by Kiewit was too low for a quality project. Los Angeles resident James Leong noted the firm's bid was significantly lower than the amounts offered by other bidders.
"It is going to be built on the cheap," Leong said. "We in Highland Park and Mt. Washington are going to pay."
The contract is by far the largest to be awarded by the authority, a new agency created by state lawmakers to take over and finish the 13.7-mile rail line from Union Station through Chinatown, Lincoln Heights, Highland Park, South Pasadena and Pasadena.
The authority was established after state lawmakers concerned about the MTA's track record on Los Angeles rail projects stripped that agency of responsibility for the rail project.
Once the line is finished, the MTA will operate the trolley-like trains, similar to those that run between Long Beach and Los Angeles and along the Century Freeway from Norwalk to El Segundo. The MTA strike has halted all subway and light rail service.