Exposition Metro Light Rail Line Phase 2, Division 14 Operations and Maintenance Facility

Division 14 aerial

Exposition Metro Light Rail Line Phase 2, Division 14 Operations and Maintenance Facility

For the first time in more than half a century, light-rail service between downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California is available again. Each month almost 1.5 million passengers, local residents and tourists alike, use the popular Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Exposition (Expo) Line to visit Santa Monica or spend a day at the beach. 

Metro required a facility that would supply functional service and operational needs for the entire Expo Line. HDR | MDG was selected as Prime to provide contract/project management, along with industrial design and equipment engineering services for the $130-million, design-bid-build Division 14 Operations and Maintenance Facility (OMF) project.  We applied our specialized expertise in industrial maintenance facility design to deliver a high-performing facility that blends in with and is a good neighbor to its surrounding environment. Streamlined collaboration was vital, both within the team, and with the community. We joined forces with Metro, the City of Santa Monica and our client to design a facility that met operational needs as well as embodied the community’s needs related to noise and vibration minimization, safety and design aesthetics.

Our first challenge was how to best leverage the 9.7-acre site’s narrow parameters to encase a light-rail yard with storage capacity for 45 light-rail vehicles (LRVs). We used a unique solution of overlapping some of the building spaces over the rail yard and maintenance area. We also set up tall, unimpeded architectural bays in the direction of train travel. This type of structural element best served the OMF’s unique operational technologies and still met Southern California seismic regulations. 

The OMF contains six LRV storage tracks which can hold up to 15 three-car trains, a thru track, and a run-around track allowing efficient access to the entire LRV storage yard. There are six service and inspection positions with lower-level work areas and upper-level roof access work platforms; a maintenance/repair shop; administrative office and training areas; a wheel truing facility; a wash building with a reverse-osmosis rinse system and water-collection reclamation system; and a double-track car cleaning platform.

Due to site constraints, designing optimal train movement through the facility was not a simple task. Our team produced a double-end train movement design enabling the LRVs to flow adeptly and safely through maintenance areas. Although we had used upper-level work platforms and overhead contact system (OCS) shutdown/lockout systems before, we attempted to “raise the bar” here in order to create an even safer, more flexible, worker-friendly setting. The OMF’s OCS safety system controls access to the work platform for each position so that, when engaged, the OCS deactivates an electromagnetic lock at a particular vehicle position’s platform entrance gate. Position-indicator technology denies platform access until a train is in place. The platform edge’s placement and its proximity to the vehicle roof avoids the need for an edge rail. Such a setup permits more platform workspace and deft movement between the top of the train and the platform. 

During every step of creating this state-of-the-art facility, we did not lose sight of our ultimate goal to create the highest-quality OMF possible, molded by the community’s needs yet also shaping the community itself in terms of social, economic and sustainable design motifs. We conducted a series of initial workshops for Santa Monica residents and businesses on the design before putting pencil to paper. Our iterative approach spanned several community meetings, with a final review in September 2012. The site previously housed a parking lot and several dilapidated warehouses; neighbors did not want to see this sort of scenario repeated or feel any noisy impact from increased rail traffic. Modern, inclusive and inspired design practices were deployed to create a visually-pleasing, safe and secure facility. We installed sound-mitigating noise walls and a buffer green space converted into a thriving community park which eases the setting’s industrial “feel.” The 2.35-acre park, named in honor of World War II veteran and long-time neighborhood resident George Ishihara, stretches along the length of the facility, serving the entire neighborhood. 

Sustainability remained a key design concern throughout; this meant “pushing the envelope” with both inventive facility design and the equipment’s technical aspects. We embraced the use of natural daylight (also conducive for employee well-being) and the mild Southern California climate to reduce electrical demand; and our cutting-edge design strategies for water, energy use and ventilation helped reduce mechanical demand. Fully completed in spring 2016, the award-winning Division 14 Operations and Maintenance Facility is both LEED Gold-certified and Net Zero Energy ready.

By the Numbers

FLEET SIZE

  • 45 Rail Cars

SITE SIZE

  • 9.7 acres

FACILITY SIZE: 95, 000 SF Total

  • Main Building:  75,000 SF
  • Secondary Building:  9,500 SF
  • Train Wash Building:  6,000 SF
  • Cleaning Platform:  4,500 SF
Division 14 aerial
Client
Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority
Location

Santa Monica, CA
United States

Size
95,000 SF
Certifications
LEED Certified Gold

Awards

Honor Award (2018)
Engineering Excellence Awards
American Council of Engineering Companies
Honor Award (2018)
Engineering Excellence Awards
American Council of Engineering Companies of California
Award of Merit (2017)
Southern California (Airports/Transit), Best Projects
Engineering News-Record California
Top Project of the Year (2016)
Storm Water Solutions
Electrical Excellence Award (2016)
National Electrical Contractors Association - Los Angeles