Helping Put Rail Line on the Right Track

02.20.2001
California Law Business
By Victoria Newman - February 20, 2001

Nancy Smith used a new procurement strategy to close two deals for her client, the Los Angeles to Pasadena Metro Blue Line Construction Authority, in record time.

The authority tapped Smith, a partner at Los Angeles' Nossaman Guthner Knox & Elliott, to secure bids and award contracts for design and construction of the Los Angeles-Pasadena Metro Blue Line.  Smith, 44, employed the design/build method to streamline the bid process.

The design/build method allows a contractor to execute one contract to design and build a project. Under the conventional design/bid/build approach, there are separate contracts for design and construction.       

With Smith's help, her client secured bids and even awarded two contracts within the year. The authority awarded one contract in four months and the second in nine months.

"That's extremely fast," Smith says. "The same process would have taken multiple years under a design/bid/build approach. I am extremely excited."       

The Blue Line is the first area rail project since funding shortfalls forced the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to suspend rail construction in 1998.  It is slated to open July 1, 2003.       

"The big effort was getting the contracts in place," says Smith, a procurement and contracting counsel for a number of public agencies, like the Utah Department of Transportation. "It's a very intense schedule."       

A group of about 10 people, comprised of Nossaman Guthner attorneys, authority staff and consultants, worked weekends to draft request for qualifications, which were sent to contractors on the Chinatown project - the mile-long elevated railway which is the Metro Blue Line's first extension.       

"It's not a complicated document but decisions had to be made on why certain contractors could be put on the short list," Smith says of contractors asked to bid on the job.       

The authority sent out bid requests on the Chinatown extension last February. A mere two months later it awarded the $22 million contract to joint venture Modern Continental Construction/HNTB Design/Build.       

While they worked furiously on the Chinatown project, Smith and her legal team also were sending out bid requests for the Arroyo Seco project - the Metro Blue Line's main section from Los Angeles to Pasadena.       

Again, thanks to Smith's streamlined bid approach, the authority was able to quickly pinpoint a contractor for the job.       

A $262 million contract to build the Arroyo Seco project was awarded to joint venture Kiewit Pacific Co./Washington Group International Inc. last September.       

"Everything happens at the same time so it's difficult to work on anything other than the project," Smith notes.       

But, Smith somehow managed to do just that.       

While handling the Metro Blue Line deal, she also was part of the Nossaman Guthner team representing the Las Vegas Monorail Co. in contract negotiations for designing, building and operating a monorail on the Las Vegas Strip.       

Smith, who in her spare time plays violin in the Pasadena Community Orchestra, looks forward to riding on the Metro Blue Line when it's completed.       

"It could take me very close to orchestra rehearsals," she says. "I missed a lot of them last year."
       
PAST DEALS: In December, Smith represented the Utah Department of Transportation in a $330 million contract to design and build Salt Lake City's Legacy Parkway, which was awarded to Flour Ames Kraemer. In September, she represented the Las Vegas Monorail Co. in its $340 million contract to design, build, operate and maintain Las Vegas' monorail system, which was awarded to Bombardier Transit Corp. and Granite Construction Co.

QUOTE: This is a major step forward for the Los Angeles area transit system, and a model for future design/build transit projects nationwide.

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