Alameda Corridor-East Construction Authority
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San Gabriel Valley Newspaper Group
By Kevin Smith
May 12, 2012

Walsh Construction wins bid for trench project

SAN GABRIEL - Walsh Construction Co. was awarded a $172.6 million contract Monday to build a 1.4-mile trench that will route Union Pacific freight and Amtrak passenger trains below ground level.

The contract, awarded by the Alameda Corridor-East (ACE) Construction Authority, is part of ACE's program to create 22 grade separations and safety improvements at 39 crossings throughout the San Gabriel Valley.

The improvements are designed to improve safety and reduce vehicle congestion and emissions that occur when cars and trucks are forced to wait while trains pass by.

The trench project is ACE's largest single undertaking, and it's expected to create nearly 9,000 jobs over its nearly five years of construction.

"I talked to the project manager and he said we'll haul out 500,000 yards of dirt," ACE spokesman Paul Hubler said. "That's equal to about 30,000 truckloads."

ACE has submitted designated routes to the city that the excavation trucks will be required to use.

"We will also install sound blankets during the construction process to reduce the noise," Hubler said.

ACE received a total of six construction bids for the project in late June, and all were below the ACE engineer's initial estimate of $266.8 million.

Walsh Construction's bid came in at 35 percent below the estimate.

"We're excited," said Bill Heathcott, business group leader for the Chicago-based company which maintains a regional office in Walnut Creek. "This will provide many opportunities for employment. One of our largest subcontractors, Steve Bubalo Construction, is right up the road in Monrovia."

Heathcott said his company's biggest challenge will be maintaining safety while working in and around the railroad.

The construction is being funded from Prop 1B transportation bonds approved by California voters in 2006. Other project elements will be paid for by MTA Measure R and other local and federal funds.

The entire 2.2-mile project will result in the lowering of Union Pacific railroad track in a 65-foot-wide, 30-foot-deep, 1.4 mile-long trench through San Gabriel.

Street bridges will be built at Ramona Street, Mission Road, Del Mar Avenue and San Gabriel Boulevard. Those streets collectively carry nearly 90,000 vehicles a day.

Work on the Ramona, Mission and Del Mar bridges will necessitate road closures, Hubler said, but the San Gabriel Boulevard bridge will be done in stages to allow traffic through during construction.

Each road closure is expected to last about three months.

"This project is a great opportunity," said City Councilman David R. Gutierrez, who also chairs the ACE board. "It will have a significant impact regionally because it will open up those crossings, and it will also have a role in reducing emissions."

Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, an ACE board member and current MTA board chairman, said the project is "an important link in our regional strategy of moving cargo containers by train rather than in diesel trucks on our freeways."

Relocation of utilities along the project route has already begun. Work to move fiber optic lines will begin in September. The entire San Gabriel trench project is expected to be completed in September 2017.

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