Nossaman LLP

Nancy C. Smith


T 213.612.7837
F 213.612.7801
777 South Figueroa Street, 34th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Nancy Smith is a partner in and co-founder of Nossaman's Infrastructure Practice Group.  With the Firm more than 30 years, she is a member of Nossaman's executive committee.

Ms. Smith is nationally recognized as a leading attorney in the field of innovative contracting and finance for infrastructure project development.  She helped pioneer the U.S. use of design-build, design-build-operate-maintain and public-private partnerships (PPPs) on projects ranging from airports to joint highway/transit corridors.

In addition, Ms. Smith has been instrumental in obtaining federal and state legislation to allow use of innovative contracting methodologies for transportation projects.  She has advised California and other states on development of their comprehensive design-build programs.

The Design-Build Institute of America has certified Ms. Smith as a design-build professional.  She is an active member of DBIA – sitting on its legal committee and legislative subcommittee, and receiving its Meritorious Service Award in 2007.  She is actively involved with the Transportation Research Board.

Ms. Smith is AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rated in the areas of transportation, government contracts and construction law by Martindale-Hubbell.

Her role in the infrastructure group also includes a quality assurance function.  She is often asked to provide input regarding strategic issues and legal questions.  She contributes in some capacity to more than two-thirds of the major projects undertaken by the group for clients across the country.

Ms. Smith frequently speaks to transportation industry organizations on the finance and delivery of high-priority transportation projects and publishes on this subject.

Representative Work

  • Maryland Transit Administration and Maryland Department of Transportation – Purple Line Light Rail.  Co-lead counsel on the Nossaman team advising MTA/MDOT on the state's first PPP project under legislation passed in 2013.  The proposed $2.2 billion Purple Line light rail system will run 16.2 miles in the Washington, D.C., suburbs between Bethesda and New Carrollton, with 21 new stations along the route.  Initial tasks included assistance with the enabling legislation allowing the use of PPPs to finance, develop and operate transportation projects, drafting the request for qualifications and developing draft documents for industry review.  In early 2014, MTA announced that four teams have been short-listed to submit proposals for a 30-year concession for the Purple Line.  Ms. Smith is a key participant in development of procurement and contract documents for the project, including participation in the pre-RFP industry review process.  In July 2014, MTA issued the final RFP for a 30-year concession to the shortlisted teams. Construction is slated to start in 2015; trains will begin running in 2020.
  • New York State Thruway Authority – Tappan Zee Bridge.  Led the Nossaman team working on this project.  The three-mile-long cantilever span, which was built to last 50 years, is both over-capacity and overdue for replacement.  The $3.9 billion project to replace the Tappan Zee with a cable-stayed, dual-span bridge to last the next 100 years is one of the largest public works projects in the nation.  It is the first design-build project undertaken by NYSTA and the $3.1 billion design-build contract is the nation's largest to date.  Construction began in 2013. The first span of the new bridge is scheduled to open in 2016 and the complete bridge in 2018.  Nossaman reviewed enabling legislation, assessed project risk, produced procurement and contract documents, participated in meetings with proposers, dealt with surety issues, assisted in evaluation of SOQs and proposals, and participated in contract negotiations.
  • Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority – Silicon Valley Berryessa Extension.  Special design-build counsel for this project.  The Silicon Valley Berryessa Extension project is the first phase of a $2.3 billion extension of BART from the San Francisco Bay area into Silicon Valley.  It includes 10.2 miles of heavy rail infrastructure, plus two new stations.  Nossaman represented VTA as special design-build counsel for this project, which is ongoing and scheduled for completion in 2016.  Ms. Smith was a key member of the Nossaman team that structured the SVBX design-build procurement and drafted the procurement and contract documents, which resulted in the December 2011 award of a $722 million contract.  The team continues to assist VTA in administration of the contract and negotiation of arrangements for BART to provide train cars as well as operations and maintenance services for the new line.  Ms. Smith is also co-leader of the team advising VTA on a separate design-build procurement for a design-build contract for parking structures at the stations, and on the upcoming phase two of the project.
  • City of Los Angeles, Department of Public Works, Bureau of Sanitation – Hyperion Treatment Plant.  Led the Nossaman team assisting the City in developing the procurement package and negotiating contracts for a digester gas utilization project.  The digester will use the gas byproduct from wastewater treatment to generate electricity and steam to be used in the wastewater treatment and water reclamation process – reducing the plant's reliance on the electrical grid.  In late 2013, the Board of Public Works recommended that the City Council award a set of contracts totaling nearly $227.6 million for design, construction, financing, operating and maintenance (for ten years) of the facility.
  • Orange County Transportation Corridor Agencies  Orange County Public Toll Roads.  Lead attorney advising this agency on all aspects of planning, developing and operating its toll road system since 1990.  The TCAs are two authorities (the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency and the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency) formed by the California legislature in 1986 to plan, finance, construct and operate Orange County's public toll road system.  The system was primarily financed with proceeds from toll revenue bonds, reducing the need for taxpayer investment in roadway development.  Ms. Smith is the lead attorney for all of TCA's contracts, including more than $2 billion of design-build contracts and operation and maintenance contracts for toll roads, facilities and systems.  In a recent assignment, she acted as lead contracts counsel for a set of contracts to convert TCA's 51-mile network of toll roads to all-electronic tolling.  This conversion went live in early 2014.
  • Metro Gold Line Construction Authority – Metro Gold Line.  Co-lead attorney advising the Authority on projects to develop the Metro Gold Line, since 2000.  The Gold Line currently provides transit services from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles to the Sierra Madre Villa Station in Pasadena.  The 24-mile Foothill Extension will extend this important light-rail system east through the region's "foothill cities."  Phase 2A of the project extends the line to Azusa and will add 11.3 miles of new track along with six new stations and an operations and maintenance facility.  Ms. Smith was co-lead design-build counsel advising the Authority on structuring the procurement and contracts for phase 2A, including separate procurements for an $18 million "freeway structure" bridge, the $486 million alignment design-build contract, and the $49 million design-build contract for a parking structure.  She oversaw the risk allocation analysis, prepared procurement and contract documents, and assisted in the award process and in contract administration.  She is also advising the Authority on the ongoing phase 2B of this project.
  • City of San José – Mineta San José Airport.  Key attorney on the team that assisted the City of San José in negotiating and administering a design-build contract for a $660 million project to expand the Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport, which serves California's Silicon Valley.  The project included the renovation and expansion of Terminal A, a new Terminal B, a 3,000-space consolidated rental care facility and related roadway improvements.  At the time, it was the largest design-build airport in the United States.  The contract was awarded in 2006 and the new facility completed in 2010.  The team saved more than $290 million on the budget and completed the project one year earlier by using a design-build rather than a design-bid-build process.  The airport project has received more than 25 prominent industry awards.
  • Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas – Houston METRORail.  Led a Nossaman team that developed extensions to the Houston METRORail system, which launched in 2004.  Eventually, the system will include 73 miles of light rail service.  The first leg of the system, the popular Red Line, is 7.5 miles long and travels along Main Street through the densely-built city center.  In just one decade, it boasts one of the highest ridership rates in the country.  Metro Solutions Phase 2 is a $1.46 billion project to design, build, equip, operate and maintain three additional rail lines.  In December 2013, the Red Line northern extension added 5.3 miles to the system.  In 2015, the Green Line (East End) and the Purple Line (Southeast) will open – further expanding the system.  Ms. Smith's work is primarily related to the turnkey contract to develop the extensions, producing procurement and contract documents, negotiating the original contracts and negotiating modifications that restructured the original deal.
  • Washington State Department of Transportation – Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement.  For more than 15 years, lead attorney to WSDOT in development of its design-build procurement and contracting program.  One such contract is for a tunnel project to replace the 60-year-old Alaskan Way Viaduct that carries SR-99 through downtown Seattle is being replaced by the world's largest-diameter (55 feet) hard-ground bored tunnel.  The two-mile tunnel underneath the City's heart and along its waterfront will incorporate a stacked configuration with two southbound lanes on the upper level and two northbound lanes on the lower level.  This $1.35 billion design-build contract was awarded to joint venture Seattle Tunnel Partners in 2010.  Ms. Smith's role included review of procurement and technical documents, assistance in risk analysis and drafting contract documents.  She remains involved as contract issues arise and visited the site in July 2013 to see "Big Bertha," the world's largest tunnel boring machine, before it went underground.
  • California High-Speed Rail Authority – California High-Speed Rail.  Key member of the Nossaman team advising CHSRA on institutional arrangements, procurement plan and financing options.  The $68 billion California High-Speed Rail project will connect Northern to Southern California.  It is the first high-speed rail project in North America and among the largest global infrastructure projects ever undertaken.  Nossaman serves as primary outside legal advisor to CHSRA for this 800-mile, 24-station system using a series of design-build contracts.  The first $950 million contract is to develop the initial segment, from Fresno to Bakersfield, and broke ground in 2014.  The second $1.23 billion design-build contract was awarded in December 2014.

Awards & Honors

Design-Build Institute of America's 2007 Meritorious Service Award.

Design-Build Institute of America's 2014 Distinguished Design-Build Leadership Award.

AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell.

Bio Photo
Bio Photo



J.D., Yale Law School, 1981

B.A., University of Florida, 1978, Phi Beta Kappa, with high honors




Professional Affiliations

Transportation Research Board, Member, Committee on Contract Law, Committee on Project Delivery Methods, AFH15

Design-Build Institute of America:  Co-Chair of Legislative Subcommittee, Member of Transportation Infrastructure Committee, Co-Chair of 2003 Transportation Conference; Founding Board Member of Western Pacific Chapter

Women's Transportation Seminar, Advisor to the President, Los Angeles Chapter

American Bar Association, Member, Public Contract Law Section and Forum on the Construction Industry

Awards & Honors

Design-Build Institute of America's 2007 Meritorious Service Award.

Design-Build Institute of America's 2014 Distinguished Design-Build Leadership Award.

AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell.

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