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Death of worker halts construction on Purple Line Metro extension

An investigation into the death of a worker on Wednesday has shut down construction for a portion of Metro’s Purple Line extension.

A 40-year-old construction worker at the subterranean Mid-Wilshire site died after being struck by a service vehicle used to ferry parts and people.

“All work at the project has ceased until further notice,“ Erin Holin, spokeswoman for joint contractor Skansa-Traylor-Shea, said in an email. The joint venture contracted with Metro to build nearly four miles of the Purple Line extension.

“Skanska-Traylor-Shea is cooperating with local authorities and will conduct a full internal investigation,” Holin said.

The death of the man, who has yet to be named, marks the first construction fatality for Metro in 10 years, according to the agency.

“We continue to work with the officials from all regulatory agencies to gather information on the incident and to determine what occurred,” Chief Executive Stephanie Wiggins told the Metropolitan Transportation Authority‘s board on Thursday.

The last fatal incident occurred in 2012, when contract construction worker Adolfo Figueroa was killed while working on a 405 Freeway Sepulveda Pass improvement project, Metro said. Figueroa was crushed by a 3,000-pound unsecured steel beam when it fell off a flatbed trailer. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health initially fined the contractor, Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., $36,000 for the failure.

Metro is on a massive building binge, with plans to double its rail systems over the next three decades. Five rail projects are underway, including the Purple Line extension, the Crenshaw/LAX Line and a connector to the Los Angeles International Airport.

Metro broke ground in 2014 on the nine-mile extension of the Purple Line, also known as the D Line, to run from Koreatown to the Westside. The project, staggered into three phases, is behind schedule and has faced cost overruns. Wednesday’s fatal accident occurred on the first leg of the segment, set to open in 2024.

Metro construction reports show that the $3.1-billion section of the project has had a lower rate of injury than the national average.

Metro staff has been more concerned about safety on another leg of the project, operated in a joint venture by Tutor Perini Corp. and O&G Industries, where the injury rates have been above the national average since November.

“We are not happy with that,” Metro executive Sameeh Ghaly told a board committee last month.

The agency has been working with the contractor to improve training.




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