Pfieffer Canyon Bridge has officially reopened to traffic, work continues along the Big Sur Coastline

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A record wet winter set the stage for dramatic closures along Highway 1 this spring, the demolition of Pfieffer Canyon Bridge and the Mud Creek Slide changed the way that residents and visitors get around the coast forever. On Friday, Caltrans celebrated the completion of the State Route 1 Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge project, just seven months after the bridge was destroyed by harsh winter storms.

“We’re very excited to bring vital highway access back to locals and visitors only seven months after the former bridge was demolished,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. ‘It’s a project that would normally take several years to complete.”

This bridge was an Accelerated Bridge Construction project, new to California and the Big Sur Community. Dozens of bridge workers worked extended hours, mostly 6-7 days a week since the end of March to complete the bridge.

The signature feature of the new structure is 15 steel girders fabricated in Vallejo weighing 62 tons each that span the rugged, 315-foot canyon. Its design has no support columns, eliminating structural vulnerability from future slide activity. The new bridge has 12-foot lanes and 5-foot outside shoulders making it accessible for all travelers.

The slide at Pfeiffer Canyon was one of three major landslides that impacted State Route 1 in Monterey County due to record rainfall this past winter. Paul’s Slide, located 24 miles south of Pfeiffer Canyon, remains active with public access provided by a temporary traffic signal.

California’s coastline was permanently altered in May when the massive Mud Creek slide covered Highway 1 with more than 5 million cubic yards of material. The landslide occurred on May 20, dumping more than 5 million cubic yards of material onto the roadway and into the ocean, making it the largest slide ever along the Big Sur coast.

Caltrans recently released its strategy to expedite the rebuilding and reopening of Highway 1 at Mud Creek, traversing over the site of the slide. The new roadway will be realigned across the landslide and will be buttressed with a series of embankments, berms, rocks, netting, culverts and other stabilizing material. This strategy will allow Caltrans to rebuild the roadway more quickly and at a lower cost than other alternatives such as structures, a tunnel or major earthwork that places additional fill into the ocean. The realignment project there has begun with completion of a rebuilt roadway expected by late summer 2018.

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California announces initial list of priority infrastructure projects ready for funding

Working with local cities, counties, and regions, California put forward an initial list of priority infrastructure projects today to the National Governor’s Association for consideration by the federal government. These key projects represent over $100 billion in targeted investments around the state. These investments will build and improve roads, levees, bridges, ports, and train and public transit systems. The total list also includes water storage and recycling projects, as well as energy, military, veterans and emergency operations facilities and services.

In the short-term, these projects will benefit businesses up and down the state and put thousands to work -many in communities with the highest rates of unemployment. Long-term, this investment will have lasting, expansive economic benefits by moving goods and people faster, protecting vulnerable communities from flooding, bolstering emergency response capabilities, saving and storing more water and improving energy reliability.

To prepare for the future – and complement federal investments – California is doing its part by working on legislation to ensure a permanent and sustainable funding stream is in place to further support road, highway and other critical infrastructure construction and improvements – part of a I0-year transportation investment plan.California is home to one out of every eight Americans and when we build in California, we build for America.

Find the list of projects here: http://gov.ca.gov/docs/CA_Infrastructure_Letter_and_Projects_2.7.17.pdf

CA High Speed Rail recognized by US Departments of Treasury and Transportation for Transformative Impact

Two recent reports from the federal government highlighted California High Speed Rail’s (HSR) economic impact. The US Department of Transportation recognized the impact that federal dollars have had on CA High Speed Rail in its final report on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The report, Shovel Worthy: What the Recovery Act Taught Us About Investing in Our Nation’s Infrastructure, showed how the Central Valley region is seeing the early benefits of the progress being made on the nation’s first high-speed rail system through job creation and business participation both large and small.

The Recovery Act provided funding for the preliminary engineering and environmental clearance for the corridor. It also provided funding for the final design and construction of the 119-mile-long Central Valley construction package that US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx toured last year. This investment in the Central Valley has led to an economic turnaround in the region. The ARRA report focuses on the economic benefits that the City of Fresno has received from Recovery Act funds. Through strategic investments, including high-speed rail construction, Fresno’s unemployment rate went from 18 percent in 2011 to 9.3 percent in 2016.

The report also highlighted the work that HSRA is doing with Small and Disadvantaged Business participation in the construction of the project. Two small businesses were highlighted in the report, Outback Materials and Valverde Construction. Valverde Construction is a certified Hispanic Owned Small Business that is has a contract for utility relocation. Valverde expanded their business through the contract, opening an office in Fresno and hiring additional workers.

Outback Materials is a certified small business based in Fresno that provides concrete for construction in the region. Outback Materials invested $3 million to build a state-of-the art plant in Fresno and hired 25 new employees. Hear owner Curtis Lovett describe how Outback Materials has benefited and expanded as a result of work for high-speed rail:

The other report, commissioned by the US Department of the Treasury on behalf of the Build America Investment Initiative, identified 40 proposed transportation and water infrastructure projects of major economic significance that face challenges to their completion. The aim was to show the public the economic benefits of completing these projects.

According to the study, HSR ranked third in net economic benefit and cost ratio and would have projected net economic benefit of $130-260 billion. Project benefits included:

  • Travel time, reliability, travel cost and productivity benefits for users transferring from auto to HSR.
  • Travel time, reliability, safety and emission benefits for highway users traveling in less congested conditions due to mode shift from auto to HSR.
  • Passenger delay, operating cost and emission savings in the aviation sector due to mode shift from air to HSR.

With more than 119-miles of active construction in the Central Valley, construction of a high-speed rail line between the Silicon Valley and Central Valley is planned to be complete by 2024, with passenger service beginning in 2025. More on the project: http://hsr.ca.gov/

UC Berkeley studio course envisions additional Transbay crossing

CalSTA staff recently joined two sessions of a city and regional planning studio course at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design that analyzed the path for a new Transbay crossing for the San Francisco Bay Area. Due to increasing economic and population growth, many organizations have done preliminary analysis on the need and utility of a “second crossing” to add rail and transit capacity in the region in addition to the Bay Bridge and the current BART tunnel. This course asked graduate students studying transportation planning, engineering, and public health to study this issue from multiple angles in studio.

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Taught by Karen Trapenberg Frick, a former transportation planner at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the course examines topics related to project delivery, governance, funding and costs, policy and planning issues related to land use and transit-oriented development, environmental issues, and system connectivity.

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Throughout the semester, the course engaged with outside participants, including CalSTA Deputy Secretaries Kate White and Chad Edison, who provided expertise and feedback. Using these participants’ input and insight, and through regular consultation with dozens of stakeholders, students developed analyses and recommendations to deliver a final professional report on the alternatives that they presented this week.

The studio created a website to give the public access to their report for a larger discussion. The students utilized MTC’s travel demand model to estimate changes in travel patterns and UrbanSim to estimate the impact on land use to create their preliminary findings for each alternative.

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This work could potentially set the foundation for a plan that stakeholders will use to move forward on one of these alternatives to address the continuing growth of the Bay Area region. You can explore an interactive map of the alternatives here: http://thirdcrossing.org/map.html and find out more about the project.

US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and CalSTA Secretary Brian Kelly tour High-Speed Rail Construction

On Monday, US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx joined Secretary Brian Kelly for a tour of High-Speed Rail Authority (HSR) construction sites in Fresno County. Foxx met with a team of HSR staff including CEO Jeff Morales, Central Valley Regional Director Diana Gomez, and Construction Manager Hugo Mejia to be briefed on the project’s construction progress.  Approximately 119 miles of construction is underway in the Central Valley from Madera County to Kern County. Secretary Foxx’s visit was concentrated in Construction Package 1 which has eight active construction sites within a 32-mile stretch.

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The tour began at the Fresno River Viaduct where Secretary Foxx looked at the first free standing structure of the system. The 1,600-foot aerial structure will carry high-speed trains over the Fresno River and State Route 145. Work on this site began in June 2015 and is expected to be complete by the end of 2016.

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HSR CEO Jeff Morales shows Secretary Foxx and Secretary Kelly the Fresno River Viaduct aerial structure.

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The next stop on Secretary Foxx’s visit was a visit the San Joaquin River Viaduct, a 4,740-foot structure that will span the San Joaquin river in North Fresno and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks parallel to State Route 99. The viaduct construction will feature arches to represent the northern gateway into the city of Fresno.

img_5253The Union Pacific structure adjoining State Route 99, HSR’s San Joaquin Viaduct will run parallel to this structure.

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Secretary Foxx, CEO Jeff Morales, and Secretary Kelly stand on the San Joaquin Viaduct construction site.

Secretary Foxx’s tour of Construction Package 1 concluded at the Tuolumne Street Bridge in downtown Fresno where he was joined by Congressman Jim Costa and Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin.
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The original Tuolumne Street Bridge was demolished to accommodate HSR and to create two-way vehicle traffic on the bridge to support the revitalization of Fresno’s city core. A month ago, crews poured concrete onto the deck of the new bridge which can be viewed here:

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The new Tuolumne Street Bridge allows for two-way traffic into downtown Fresno.

Five small businesses are working on the construction of the Tuolumne Street structure including J. Kroeker, Inc., American Crane Rental, Inc., Parrish Hansen Engineering, Oliveira Fence, Inc., and Tommy’s Water Trucks. This is a small sampling of the 318 small businesses working on HSR which include 100 disadvantaged business enterprises and 36 disabled veteran business enterprises. In addition to this growth, HSR continues to support workforce development and job creation with over 350 students graduating from pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeship classes. There are over 680 skilled craft workers helping build HSR in the four construction packages. It is estimated that HSR will create over 3,500 permanent jobs throughout the state when HSR opens and expands its service.

The project continues to build as a carbon-neutral project, HSR requires its design-build contractors to recycle all concrete and steel and use the newest, cleanest diesel engines.  The project has used over 200 tons of 100% recycled steel in columns and structures. The project has recycled or stockpiled over 19,800 tons of concrete, steel, and other mixed construction materials. In the coming weeks, they will be planting trees to offset any construction emissions.

For more construction updates, visit Build HSR: http://www.hsr.ca.gov/buildhsr.html

Caltrans To Do More Innovative Implosions of Old Bay Bridge Piers

OAKLAND – Caltrans continues the removal of the remaining marine foundations of the original east span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (SFOBB). Beginning on Saturday, Caltrans will remove Piers E4 and E5 of the Old Bay Bridge with the same implosion method used to bring down Pier E3 last fall. This method reduces the environmental impact and costs to taxpayers.

Watch the Caltrans News Flash on the upcoming implosion:

“Caltrans appreciates the guidance environmental organizations and permitting agencies provided to achieve an effective underwater demolition plan for these two 1935 east span bridge foundations,” said Caltrans Bay Area District Director Bijan Sartipi.

Pier E5 will be imploded on October 15 with 8,000 pounds of explosives, in less than three seconds. Pier E4’s implosion will occur two weeks later, on October 29 in less than four seconds, with approximately 12,000 pounds of explosives.

Significant environmental monitoring will take place pre, during and post blast, including water quality, sonar, marine mammal and fish. October provides the window when the least possible number of fish and marine mammals are present in the area. There will be brief impacts to water quality, turbidity is expected to dissipate in just over an hour and implementation is relatively easy with low risk to human safety.

A Blast Attenuation System, better known as the “bubble curtain,” will minimize impacts to biological resources in the Bay on each foundation-blasting project. The implosion will again take place near “slack tide,” the time when tidal fluctuation is at a balance point between ebb and flow to help minimize potential impacts to the environment by maximizing the effectiveness of the Blast Attenuation System.

Last November, Caltrans successfully removed the 50 million pound Pier E3, the largest of the marine foundations, by use of highly controlled sequential charges. These innovative controlled charges have been shown to be more efficient and the environmentally preferable alternative to traditional marine foundation removal.

Beginning with the implosion of Piers E4 and E5 this month, there will be three consecutive blasting seasons over the next two years. Caltrans will demolish Piers E6 through E11 in fall 2017, and Piers E12 through E18 will be removed in late 2018, when the demolition project is scheduled for completion.

There will be rolling closures on the Bay Bridge during the demolition. Caltrans will also close the bridge’s bike path. The removal of the piers on October 15 coincides with the 10th anniversary of the Treasure Island Music Festival. For more information on the festival or to send an inquiry to festival organizers, see the following links: http://www.treasureislandfestival.com

Music festival contacts page: http://treasureislandfestival.com/2016/contact/

We have limited space for media personnel and vehicles, so please confirm media attendance at Pier 1 to cover the blast by submitting name(s) to: leah_robinson-leach@dot.ca.gov

Submitted names will be placed on the media list for approved entrance at Avenue N. The media will be guided, by festival personnel, to the designated area on Pier 1.

While there are no public viewing areas, the public may watch the implosion on October 15 between noon – 12:40 pm at the following link: http://www.dot.ca.gov/oldbaybridgedemolition