The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has awarded a $226.6-million contract for the New Irvington Tunnel project to a joint venture of Southland Contracting Inc. of Fort Worth, Texas, and Tutor Perini Corp. of Sylmar.

The bid that Southland/Tutor Perini JV submitted, the lowest qualified bid, was $26.6 million below the SFPUC’s engineers’ original estimate.

Construction on the New Irvington Tunnel project is expected to begin in September with completion anticipated in early 2014.

Designed to provide a seismically upgraded connection between water supplies from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Alameda Watershed to Bay Area water distribution systems, the new tunnel will extend 3.5 mi and have an internal diameter of approximately 8.5 to 10.5 ft.

It will lay parallel to the existing tunnel between the Sunol Valley south of Highway I-680 and Fremont. Once complete, the New Irvington Tunnel will provide the enhanced ability to reliably deliver water to customers after an earthquake while allowing the SFPUC to take the existing tunnel out of service for much needed maintenance and repair.

A key goal of the SFPUC is to encourage participation by Local Business Enterprises (LBEs). Of the 13 certified LBE firms chosen, A1 Protective Services, All American Rental, Apex Testing Lab, DLD Lumber, Geometrix Survey, Hernandez Engineering, Hydro Consulting Engineer, J Higgins Trucking, Karla’s Maids & Handyman and Municon Consultants are from San Francisco. The remaining three firms include Economy Trucking (Oakland), Ferguson Welding (Hayward) and R&W Concrete (Burlingame). Each firm will receive a portion of the $9.7 million awarded from the total contract amount.

The New Irvington Tunnel Project is a key part of the SFPUC’s $4.6 billion Water System Improvement Program (WSIP) to repair, replace, and seismically upgrade the aging Hetch Hetchy Water System. WSIP includes more than 80 projects spanning seven counties from the Central Valley to Downtown San Francisco. To date, over $1 billion in projects have reached construction. More information about WSIP can be found online at