Seven major projects in California got off to celebratory starts in the past two weeks, signaling a willingness of municipalities, school districts, government agencies and residential developers to start spending on construction again.

The biggest of the seven is the $600-million OC Bridges program, funded and overseen by the Orange County Transportation Authority. The project’s goal is to improve traffic flow and safety at seven crossings along the busy Burlington North Santa Fe rail line in Anaheim, Fullerton and Placentia by building a series of bridges – both underpasses and overpasses – to separate car traffic from trains.

Construction will be in phases, with the first two, Placentia Avenue, which borders the cities of Fullerton and Placentia, and Kramer Boulevard, recently starting utility relocation work. The additional crossings will begin construction on a staggered basis over the next two years and include Orangethorpe Avenue, Tustin Avenue/Rose Drive, Lakeview Avenue, Raymond Avenue and State College Boulevard.

Heavy construction will first begin on Placentia, said OCTA spokesman Laura Scheper.

The general contractor for Placentia Avenue is Flatiron West and for Kramer it’s Atkinson Construction.

Next up, the Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded a $98.8-million contract to Walsh/DeMaria Joint Venture V to build a new polytrauma rehabilitation facility located on the campus of the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. Architect for the project is SmithGroup (partnered with The Design Partnership).

This will be VA’s first and only Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center to be combined with a Blind Rehabilitation Center. At 174,000 square feet, the new facility is the largest consolidated rehabilitation center in VA. The Rehabilitation Center includes 24 beds for the polytrauma program, 32 beds for the blind rehabilitation program, and 12 beds for the polytrauma transitional rehabilitation program.

The center will also have an outpatient physical therapy/occupational therapy clinic, an outpatient physical medicine and rehabilitation clinic, and clinical programs for Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans. In addition to the new Polytrauma-Blind Rehabilitation Center, a 600-car, four-story parking garage will be constructed adjacent to the new facility.

Three new housing projects have also broken ground – New Harmony in Davis by Sacramento/Yolo Mutual Housing Association, Stoneridge Creek continuing care retirement community in Pleasanton by Continuing Life Communities and a soon-to-be-named market-rate apartment development in San Francisco by Avant Housing.

When completed in December 2012, the $20-million, 69-apartment New Harmony community will have one-, two- and three-bedroom flats for families of modest means. Each flat will have a private patio, energy-efficient appliances, environmentally friendly building materials and finishes as well as high-quality indoor air filters. The apartments will be wheelchair accessible, have free Internet access and minimal utility bills.