When K.N. Murthy took the helm at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), his task was twofold: transform the workings of an auto-centric city and of an agency that serves a population of 9.6 million.
Eight years and more than $8 billion in completed construction later, the India-born executive director of transit project delivery has seen major progress on both fronts. But the $8 billion is just the beginning of a $40-billion voter-approved, sales-tax-fueled program.
Transit is Murthy's passion. "Having worked 40 years in the field, I love what I'm doing," Murthy says. "I get to create something new for people to use." He has done so in more than a dozen cities around the globe.
But when Murthy joined Metro, it was his biggest challenge yet. "Here was an opportunity to lead the agency into a multi-project environment," he says.
With a history at Parsons Brinckerhoff, Murthy notes that bringing private-sector attitudes and multiple teamwork processes to a public agency "takes a huge cultural shift. When I came and saw all these huge projects, I looked at the idea of going design-build."
The push is paying off. "Design-build is being used on nearly every major project, often in combination with traditional design-bid-build," says Denny Zane, executive director of Move LA, a transportation advocacy group.
Arthur Hadnett, vice president with Stantec, Metro's construction management consultant, says, "Murthy has mentored a generation of engineers. Many of the project managers and planners in the new wave of Metro capital projects were influenced by Murthy."