Major construction in progress on the high-speed rail project: CEG

This package includes the construction of at-grade embankments, culverts and wildlife crossings, retained embankment at-grade crossings and overpasses, overhead sections of the high-speed rail route, and the 4-mile displacement. existing Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) tracks. (Photo courtesy of California High-Speed ​​Rail Authority)

The ongoing multibillion-dollar project to build a high-speed rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles has encountered its fair share of hurdles getting approval, but contractor teams have begun major construction in some areas of the Golden State.

The design-build project, overseen by the California High-Speed ​​Rail Authority (Authority), was divided into separate construction lots. Construction Lot 4 (CP 4), which covers portions of Tulare and Kern counties, is being built by California Rail Builders (CRB), a joint venture of Ferrovial-Agroman West LLC and Griffith Company.

CP 4 is the third major construction contract undertaken for the initial operating section of the high-speed rail program, which covers a distance of 22 miles. stretch that starts about 1 mi. north of the Tulare and Kern county line and terminates at Poplar Avenue on the south. This package includes the construction of at-grade embankments, culverts and wildlife crossings, retained embankment at-grade crossings and overpasses, overhead sections of the high-speed rail route, and the 4-mile displacement. existing Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) tracks.

HNTB Company is the Authority’s project and construction manager.

“They are our eyes and ears on the ground in the Central Valley,” said Augie G. Blancas, the Authority’s public information officer. “Team members working with the Authority provide assurance to the people of California that technical and contractual requirements are being met for CP 4.”

According to the Authority’s 2022 business plan, CP 4 will be substantially complete by March 2023.

Project status

Efforts are underway to ensure that the entire project has obtained all necessary approvals for the construction of the HSR.

The Authority’s Board of Directors has approved contracts to advance the design of the total 52.4 mi. which will extend the project to Merced and Bakersfield, bringing the project closer to building the final Central Valley packages to complete the 171 mi. electrified high-speed rail segment and eventually connect to the Bay Area and Los Angeles.

At the grade separation of Merced Avenue south of Wasco, crews installed 15 precast beams that spanned over 177 feet. They are among the longest made by subcontractor Con-Fab California at its Lathrop factory.

“Each beam weighs over 220,000 pounds,” Blancas said. “Confab has also supplied precast concrete beams for other high-speed rail structures, including the San Joaquin River Viaduct and Pergola in Fresno and Madera counties.”

The Merced Avenue grade separation will be over 509 feet. long and 43 feet. wide when finished.

“Taken together, these contracts strengthen the Authority’s efforts to run high-speed rail through the heartland of California by the end of the decade,” Authority Chairman Tom Richards said in a statement. Press release. “These contracts demonstrate our ability to leverage lessons learned from past contracts, increase project readiness and prepare for continued progress on this transformative project.”

The Authority has awarded the $41 million Merced to Madera extension design contract to Stantec Consulting Services Inc., which covers approximately 33.9 mi. with 40 buildings. The $44.9 million expansion contract from Fresno to Bakersfield (locally generated alternative) has been awarded to HNTB and covers approximately 18.5 mi. between the towns of Shafter and Bakersfield in Kern County with 31 structures.

“The contracts are expected to run for two years and the two companies will work with the Authority to finalize the project configuration footprint and advance design work to refine cost and travel time improvements, and map the right-of-way. and the relocation of public services,” the HRS press said. Release. “These critical milestones will bring construction sections closer together, with the goal of running electrified high-speed trains between Merced and Bakersfield by the end of the decade.”

Earlier this summer, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the Authority a $25 million federal grant to advance the project in downtown Merced. The Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant will provide more than half the cost of the Madera to Merced design contract.

In a press release issued on August 18, 2022, the Authority’s Board of Directors certified the Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIR/EIS) and approved the approximately 43 mi. project for the San Francisco section in San Jose. This action completes the environmental clearance for the high-speed rail in Northern California and extends the environmental clearance to 420 mi. of the 500 mi of the project. San Francisco roster in Los Angeles/Anaheim.

“With environmental studies completed in Northern California, we are closer than ever to achieving a first statewide high-speed rail system,” Richards said in a press release. “We look forward to working with all of our regional partners and stakeholders to develop modern and sustainable transportation infrastructure, complete our work in the Central Valley, and connect to the Bay Area as soon as possible.”

The approval of the San Francisco to San Jose HSR project section and its environmental document represents a major milestone in advancing the entire statewide program by connecting the San Francisco Bay Area Francisco and the Peninsula in San Jose, the Central Valley and Los Angeles County in Southern California. .

Last summer, the Authority announced that it had achieved a historic milestone with the placement of the last of the precast concrete beams throughout CP 4 with the installation of 12 beams above the passage lower part of State Route (SR) 46. This structure will take high-speed trains at 220 miles per hour on SR 46, which will parallel the BNSF railroad. With this placement, all structures along the 22 mi. high-speed train section between are now under construction.

Construction continues north past CP 4. Construction Lot 1 is a 32-mi. section of high-speed rail between 19th Avenue in Madera and East American Avenue in Fresno County. Structures include the San Joaquin River Viaduct and the Pergola and Cedar Viaduct, both of which can be seen on State Route 99. Construction Lot 2-3 is 65 miles away. section of high-speed rail between East American Avenue in Fresno County one mile north of the Tulare and Kern county lines. Notable construction projects include the Hanford Viaduct, the largest ongoing construction project in the Central Valley.

CRB signed the Notice to Proceed on April 15, 2016.

The joint venture has completed sections of the project, including structures at Garces Highway, Pond Road, Peterson Avenue and Poso Creek. Over the next few months, work will focus on completing the remaining structures such as the Wasco overpass and the Merced and McCombs road grade separations.

The use of prefabricated elements, such as the mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) wall panels, allowed CRB to optimize the schedule by putting them in time for installation and obtaining a better quality of the final product. .

“We also do a lot of pour-in-place concrete work,” Blancas added.

The installation of the precast concrete beams required good preparation.

“Planning starts months in advance, starting with the design, getting the manufacturer and lots of coordination with third parties for road closure permits and allowing time in the schedule for unforeseen circumstances like delays. weather, equipment failures,” added Blancas. “Some of the beams were so long that CHP had to guide the beams, which required five to six weeks notice and a planned route agreed with trucking companies. Wasco beams need 50 minutes. About 15 minutes to rig , about five minutes to fly the beam and set it up, 20 minutes to brace and 10 minutes to disconnect the rigging.For McCombs and Merced the average was about 75 minutes.

Major pieces of equipment used include cranes, excavators, bulldozers, loaders, dump trucks, forklifts, and other large and small iron pieces. The cranes, including the SR 46 site lifting beams, include: an HTC 8675 and Link-Belt LS-338 from MCM Equipment Sales; and an HTC8690, Grove GMK 5275, and Grove GMK 5210 from T&T Equipment Co. Other equipment used includes a Link-Belt TCC750 from Keller Equipment Supply and a Manitowoc MLC300 from ConFab.

Recycling excavated and demolished materials, along with other measures to minimize GHG emissions and be as sustainable as possible, are a priority for THV and the companies it has hired to carry out the work.

Last spring, the last four of 120 precast concrete beams were placed on the pergola section of the Wasco Viaduct, a nearly 2,000-foot-long structure that carries trains above ground level and over existing railway tracks.

green project

“The Authority’s goal is to deliver the greenest infrastructure project in the country, even on the construction site,” Blancas said. “The Authority has required contractors, including CRB, to recycle 100% of steel and concrete from construction and demolition and to divert at least 75% of all construction waste and for landfill demolition. For air quality, contractors must use trucks and equipment that meet California requirements. This includes using Tier 4 equipment, air quality EPA’s highest equipment, which reduces the amount of air pollutants.

On peak days, around 300 workers are on site. The JV called on numerous local and regional subcontractors.

With so many types of construction equipment on site, it is essential that machines are running efficiently to maximize production and that repairs are carried out quickly, either by on-site mechanics or those brought in as needed. Routine maintenance schedules are adhered to and operators check their vehicles daily and report any problems to management.

The joint venture purchases and leases equipment from dealers such as MCM Equipment Sales, T&T Equipment Co., Keller Equipment Supply and ConFab. CEG

Jose P. Rogers