LA Metro Division 14 Rail Operations and Maintenance Facility

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Division 14 Rail Operations and Maintenance Facility, located in Santa Monica, California, proves that active and productive collaboration drives successful outcomes.

The site serves the latest 6.6 miles of the Expo line, which now provides rail service from Los Angeles to Santa Monica for the first time in over half a century. MDG led the design-bid-build project for Metro’s 45-car maintenance facility, and brought the residents and businesses of Santa Monica directly into the design process.

The site features:

• Six LRV storage tracks for 15 three-car trains
• Six service and inspection positions with lower level work areas and upper level roof access work platforms
• Light maintenance/repair shop
• Administration and training facilities
• Wheel truing facility
• Wash building with water reclamation system
• Double-track car cleaning platform

Faced with a tight 9.7-acre site and keen community interest, the team designed a facility that not only delivers the functional and operational requirements Metro needs, but also a facility the community embraces as a good neighbor. Key to this success was collaboration, both within the team and with the community. MDG, the design team, Metro, the City of Santa Monica, and the Expo Construction Authority worked together to ensure the design addressed community interest in noise, vibration, safety, and aesthetics.

Santa Monica residents and businesses were integral in helping determine the design of the facility through a collaborative effort with the design team. MDG conducted a series of community workshops on the design from Summer 2011 through Fall 2012. MDG met with the community and invited input before putting pencil to paper, then held internal design charrettes to come up with a series of designs. These designs were presented at a second community meeting and input from that meeting was incorporated into future designs. This iterative approach spanned several community meetings, with a final review in September 2012.

Actions taken to address community interests include:

• Aesthetics which create a visually-pleasing facility
• Screening adjacent to sensitive receptors, which provides both visual separation and safety/security
• Building massing to minimize visual impact
• Placement and orientation of buildings and equipment, including PA speakers, the TPSS, and the facility’s generator to minimize impact to adjacent areas
• Space for a buffer park to minimize visual and sound impact and provide a community amenity

Beyond community interests, the facility required operational innovation. Designing the optimal train movement through the facility proved challenging due to site constraints. But MDG was up for the challenge, and developed a double-end train movement design so the light rail vehicles flow through maintenance areas, such as the wash, cleaning platform, and wheel truing, efficiently and safely.

MDG had used upper level work platforms and OCS shutdown/lockout systems before, but took the idea to a new level at Division 14 to create an even safer, more flexible environment. Access to the work platform for each position is controlled by the OCS safety shutdown/lockout system that when engaged, deactivates an electromagnetic lock at the particular vehicle position platform entrance gate. Position indicator technology prohibits access to the platform until a train is in place. And placement and proximity of the platform edge to the vehicle roof eliminates the need of the edge rail, which provides more workspace on the platform and more efficient movement between the top of the train and the platform.

Sustainability was key as well. For Division 14, this meant pushing the envelope with both innovative design and the technical aspects of equipment. The facility is pursuing Gold-NC LEED certification and net-zero energy status. Green features include:

• Brownfield redevelopment
• 400,000-gallon cistern to capture rainwater for vehicle wash and irrigation
• Low-flow fixtures
• Nine solar thermal panels that provide radiant heat and domestic hot water
• Skylights, clerestories, and windows for day lighting
• High-efficiency LED fixtures with fully dimmable controls
• Passive ventilation via operable office windows that restrict HVAC ventilation to the space when opened
• Under floor air distribution to improve air quality
• Building orientation for exposure to westerly ocean winds, bringing natural airflow and ventilation to the facility
• Six-blade high-volume, low-speed fans that provide slow air movement to ventilate in the summer and push warm air down in the winter
• Ten bike racks and ten preferred parking spaces for low emitting, fuel-efficient and carpool vehicles

Bringing this all together was an MDG-led project design team that featured a cadre of experts including RNL, W2, HNTB, Rail Pros, HNTB, Nabih Youssef, Glumac, Pamela Burton, Ambient Energy, Lee Andrews Group, MCH, JYI, HAI, Coast, DYA, Harris, TRC, and AVS.

Thanks to close collaboration across the team and with the community, Metro’s Division 14 sets a new standard for light rail facility design.