Hey Musky, how about the rest of the story?
CalTrans learns from Confusion Hill experience
Willits News, The (CA) - Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Author: Linda Williams/TWN Staff Writer
CalTrans learned lessons from its experience during the construction of the Confusion Hill project, which have already paid dividends, says CalTrans District 1 Construction Manager Terry Davis.
Davis had oversight of the Confusion Hill projects and will have oversight of the Willits bypass project as well.
Davis, being cautious due to the ongoing litigation between CalTrans, the contractor, and the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board over the Confusion Hill project, says most of the violations alleged by the water board occurred in the early days of the Confusion Hill job. Once CalTrans was aware of the issues raised by the board, the agency took immediate actions to remedy them.
One of the key issues, says Davis, was that a number of the permit conditions were subject to interpretation and were different than those implemented on prior jobs. Now CalTrans meets early with the resource agencies, such as the water board, to ensure each agency has a consistent understanding of the conditions long before construction begins, says Davis.
Davis cites two more recent projects he says utilized this new process with substantial success the $43.5 million Ten Mile River bridge replacement and the Mad River Bridge replacement between Arcata and McKinleyville.
While the Ten Mile bridge replacement project has had one water board notice of violation for improper disposal of concrete grindings issued in May 2009, it is a far cry from the nearly 150 violations allegedly committed during the Confusion Hill project.
When asked why he expected the construction of the Willits bypass project to have a different outcome than the Confusion Hill project, Davis said CalTrans now holds a pre-bid meeting between the resource agencies and the bidders to clarify expectations during construction, ensuring bidders understand the permit conditions before they bid. Once CalTrans awards the bids, the contractor will be required to meet again with the agencies to verify permit conditions before the construction begins in the field.
While acknowledging the tone and words contained in the Confusion Hill complaint were "pretty damning," says Davis, "there was no significant environmental degradation caused by the project and the environment was not harmed."
On the Willits bypass project, CalTrans will have a resident engineer at the site along with onsite inspectors, and will conduct its own permit compliance checks to help the resident engineer ensure permit conditions are met, says Davis.
Davis acknowledged CalTrans has the authority and the responsibility to make sure the contractor complies with all permit conditions.
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