Progress During Pandemic Despite the challenges posed in 2020-21 by the COVID-19 pandemic, Kothari said that construction progress on the Metro Purple Line Ex - tension Project has not been negatively impacted. During the “Safer at Home” order in Los Angeles County, services provided by Metro were classified as essential services and construction work was exempted from the order. “The initial challenge was to put a program in place to rigorously monitor safety procedures at the office and in the field and ensure that anyone who tested positive self-quarantined immediately and reported their condition to their supervisor so that offices were closed and that spaces could be sanitized,” Kothari said. “Additionally, project team members were allowed to telecommute, if feasible, based on their re- sponsibilities. Due to this program, few illnesses were reported at the work sites.” A benefit from the countywide order was the reduction in traffic around the work sites. For example, on Section 2 at the location of the Wilshire/Rodeo Station, the City of Beverly Hills approved a full closure of Wilshire Boulevard for three and a half blocks for over two months to expedite piling and decking activities. “The project was able to complete the decking with significantly fewer impacts to local business and shave months off the schedule because this activity was originally scheduled to occur over weekends between August 2020 through January 2021,” Kothari said. Mentoring/Protégé Program WSP established a mentoring/protégé program on Section 3 of the project with Metro’s support in June 2016, designed to benefit the sub consultant firms working with us on the project. The goals of the pro - gram were to: • Assist small businesses, with consideration given to minority-, woman-, disabled veteran-owned and other historically underutilized businesses (HUBs), to increase capacity and access to opportunities to grow their business; • Create strategic relationships with key smaller firms and establish a go-to relationship between WSP and protégé firms; • Use WSP’s global resources for knowledge-sharing with subconsul - tants; and • Foster the establishment of long-term business relationships between protégé firms and WSP. Kothari is grateful for the opportunity to participate in the creation of a major transportation project that will transform mobility options and quality of life for Los Angeles’ commuters. “The depth of resources and expertise WSP provides has been a signifi - cant benefit to our client on the project, and I have been honored to lead a talented and dedicated team of professionals along the way,” Kothari said. “You feel an extra sense of pride when you play a role designing something so critical to the people who live in your own hometown.”
BIM also helped the design team achieve Metro’s goal of constructing columnless platforms for all stations along the Purple Line Extension. “BIM has been an invaluable communication tool used to interface with the client, stakeholders, adjacent property owners, third-party agencies, and the community,” Kothari said. Metro will finish the project with a complex record model and a loaded parametric database, which can be used for decades to come in the operation and maintenance of its facilities. Communication has been a critical asset for the project, not just between team members, but to keep the community apprised of the progress as well. The WSP project team co-located with client staff in an integrated project office (IPO) to facilitate its ability to respond to the client and project’s needs and simplify communication. “It was very important to the client to have all the project staff in one location as soon as possible and the IPO has enabled us to respond to client requests quickly,” Kothari said. “Our team is available immedi - ately to meet with the client to resolve any issues that arise or respond to any special requests.” Sameh Ghaly, LA Metro senior executive manager for project management, praised the ongoing collaboration the agency has had with Kothari since the advent of his preliminary engineering work on the project in 2010. “Ashok is one of the most accomplished global mega-project managers in the transportation industry, and under his leadership, the team has provided critical engineering and environmental support to LA Metro, including environmental impact and funding reports, preliminary and advanced engineering, preparation of RFP documents and design sup - port during construction.” The WSP project team provides technical support for community out - reach meetings and presentations and third party coordination meet- ings and presentations. “Public support for the Metro Purple Line Extension Project remains high,” he said. “Metro has a robust Construction Relations unit that dis - seminates up-to-date information about project progress and responds to community concerns during construction.” WSP technical staff have assisted Metro with presentations at com - munity meetings where they have been able to answer the commu- nity’s questions related to air quality, noise, subsurface conditions and tunneling. “Because WSP also prepared the project’s environmental documents and technical requirements, we could explain the construction contract requirements, the criteria for their development, and how Metro would be monitoring construction to protect the community,” Kothari said.
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