Caldecott Tunnel gets go
Caldecott Tunnel gets go May 2009
Paula Wallis, Reporter
After several months' delay the 4th bore of the Caldecott Tunnel east of Oakland, California will be advertised next week. The estimated $420 million project will hit the street on Monday, May 18th with a scheduled bid opening on August 11. Funding for the project was released last month after California's Legislature passed a budget in February, some eight months after the mandated deadline.
The California Department of Transportation, Caltrans hopes the downturn in the economy and greater industry outreach will result in a more competitive bid process for the design-bid-build project that will increace highway capacity on State Route 24 between Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
"We had a very successful contractor outreach early last year when we engaged several contractors including Kiewit, FCI, Obayashi, Frontier Kemper, Traylor and Vinci in one-on-one discussions." said Cristina Ferraz, Project Manager for Caltrans. "Questions and answers from those discussions were posted on the project's website to allow the information to be shared with all interested contractors. We held two outreach events, one for small businesses and another for contractors and small businesses combined. In addition, in mid-2008 we posted the preliminary contract documents on the project website for contractors, subscontractors and supplies to view."
In 2006, the Department received only two bids for construction of its Devil’s Slide highway tunnel on the scenic coastal highway just south of San Francisco. That was despite 14 prime contractors taking out plans.
The 4th bore of the Caldecott highway tunnel complex will run north of the existing tunnels and will be approximately 3,389ft (1,033m) long and 41ft (12.5m) wide with two 12ft (3.6m) lanes. The sequential excavation method (SEM) will be used to construct the tunnel with excavation by roadheader. Parsons Brinckerhoff will provide Contract Management support to Caltrans.
Caldecott Tunnel-June 2008 interview with Caltrans District 4 Director (video) - TunnelCast
Caldecott history timeline (pdf) - TunnelTalk
NATM underway at Devil's Slide (video) - TunnelTalk
NATM underway at Devil's Slide (article) - TunnelTalk
Caltrans Caldecott Tunnel
Caldecott Tunnel funding frozen Jan 2009
Paula Wallis, Reporter
Existing tunnel

Existing tunnel

simulation pic

4th bore simulation

California’s crippling budget crisis and the global credit crunch has sidelined the long awaited 4th bore of Caldecott tunnel project in Northern California, just as the bidding process was about to begin.
On January 14, the California Transportation Commission (CTC) froze state funds for the project east of Oakland along with 26 other projects that were scheduled to receive $293.5 million in state funding.
The estimated $420 million tunnel project is fully funded with $194.5 million coming from transportation infrastructure bonds voters approved in 2006.
Bond measure funds have also fallen victim to the protracted battle between the Governor and the State Legislature over a budge deficit, expected to balloon to $40 billion through mid 2010.
With these funds frozen to preserve cash as the state deals with the growing deficit, the California Department of Transportation or Caltrans can't move ahead with plans to solicit bids for the tunnel construction next month.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a statement shortly after the commission's action saying it "illustrates why the Legislature needs to come together on a compromise for solving California's budget crisis - and why we are working around the clock on the issue." In his January 9 State of the State address Schwarzenegger focused on the urgency of the situation.

Excerpts of Governor's State of the State address Jan 9, 2009

The decision comes just as contractors were preparing to meet next Friday’s (January 30) deadline for RFPs. One contractor told TunnelTalk that the State will accept the RFP’s but plans to delay the interviews until after the budget crisis is resolved.
Paul Maxwell, Deputy Executive Director for the Contra Costa County Transportation Authority, that has partnered with Caltrans on project, says while it’s disappointing he’s fairly confident the funding issue will be resolved sooner rather than later.
“We’re viewing this as just a blip in the road to awarding this contract,” said Maxwell. “We are hoping that a budget will be signed here in the coming days and that the CTC will appropriate the funds at it’s next meeting on February 18-19 in Sacramento.”
The new tunnel will be approximately 41ft wide and 3,389ft long and the alignment will run north of the two existing tunnels. The tunnel will have two 12ft lanes, a 10ft north shoulder, a two-foot south shoulder, a two-foot north emergency walkway and a three-foot south emergency walkway (Fig 1).
Fig 1

Fig 1. Cross-section of tunnel bore

Other elements include seven emergency cross passages, a new two-story operations and maintenance building, construction of retaining walls and a noise barrier, and interchange and on-ramp improvements.
Construction will utilize the sequential excavation method (SEM), with tunnel excavation by roadheader.
The geologic conditions along the tunnel alignment consist of steeply dipping marine and non-marine sedimentary rocks of the Middle to Late Miocene Age, comprised of sandstone, shale, chert, mudstone, siltstone, and conglomerate. The tunnel alignment crosses four inactive faults These fault zones vary in width from 80 to 230 feet and the rock within the fault zones is typically moderately fractured to crushed (Fig 2).
Jacobs Associates of San Francisco serves as the technical design lead for the tunnel, with Parsons as the prime.
Fig 1

Fig 2. Geologic profile

Despite the funding freeze the State remains committed to the tunnel project and the Governor is anxious to fast track other large infrastructure projects in an effort to pull the State our of it’s economic troubles.
In a face-to-face meeting in December with then President-elect Barack Obama at the National Governor's Association (NGA) meeting in Philadelphia, Schwarzenegger urged Obama to make a large and immediate commitment to national infrastructure investment.
According to the Governor’s office, over the next 20 years, California will have more than $500 billion in infrastructure needs and currently has more than $44 billion in projects including $11 billion in road, transit and rail construction, that would be ready to break ground or place orders in the first 120 days of the new administration in Washington.
"With an immediate commitment to national infrastructure investment, it's possible to put shovels in the dirt and start immediately on projects across the nation," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "This would quickly start to boost the economy with orders from U.S. factories for steel, cement, asphalt and other materials - creating jobs now and laying the foundation for future economic growth."
The first bore of the Caldecott tunnel was built during an earlier time the great hardship and upheaval. It was part of President Roosevelt's "New Deal" to put people back to work during the Great Depression. It opening to traffic in 1937. The second bore opened, more than twenty years later in 1964.

Construction of 1st tunnel circa 1935, 2nd tunnel circa 1965, and completed tunnels circa 1970

In a January 6 letter to Obama, Schwarzenegger also urge the new administration to take the following steps to speed delivery of projects:
Waive or greatly streamline National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) requirements consistent with our
   statutory proposals to modify the California Environment Quality Act (CEQA) for transportation projects
Shorten federal permitting turnaround times and allow negotiations with permitting agencies over mitigation to
   occur during construction
Structure funding for infrastructure projects in a way that encourages design-build approaches
Encourage more public-private partnerships to attract more capital to projects, improve efficiencies and lower costs.
Waiving federal environmental reviews could greatly speed up the proposed tunnel to extent the 710 freeway east of Los Angles. On the same day as the Governor’s letter, workers began drilling for soil samples in a two-year geotechnical study that will investigate ground conditions along five possible routes including the one Caltrans has looked at for years that runs north along the L.A.-Alhambra line under South Pasadena. (Fig. 2)
Fig 1

Fig 2. Proposed Hwy 710 alignment

Meantime, while work has stopped on hundreds of infrastructure projects statewide, construction of the Devil’s Slide tunnel along the coast just south of San Francisco has been unaffected by the budget crisis. Contractor Kiewit Pacific has excavated 720ft of the 1265ft north bore and 580ft of the 1222ft south bore, plus the first three cross-passages. Ground conditions are as expected on the NATM project with crews currently working in support categories 3 and 4.
With one tunnel underway, another in the planning phase, Caltrans' immediate concern is for the Caldecott 4th bore. Aside from the budget issues, there is another roadblock that must be cleared before the contract is awarded. A judge has until February 5th to rule on a new law suite filed in late December 2008 over possible noise and pollution from the tunnel project on nearby neighorhoods and two schools.
Caltrans is hopeful the judge will rule in its favor and the California Transportation Commission will appropriate the necessary funds at its February 18-19th meeting so it can move forward with an invitation to bid sometime in March.
Caldecott Tunnel-June 2008 interview with Caltrans District 4 Director (video) - TunnelCast
Caldecott history timeline (pdf) - TunnelTalk
NATM at Devil's Slide - TunnelTalk
Caltrans Caldecott Tunnel
Governor Schwarzenegger's letter to President Barak Obama
Highway 710 tunnel study
Caltrans Devil's Slide


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