LAWA CEO Erbacci Steps Down for Saudi Arabia Job

Justin Erbacci, the CEO of Los Angeles World Airports, announced his resignation on Sept. 7. He will become the CEO of NEOM, a sprawling urban area planned by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Erbacci joined LAWA in 2016 and was appointed CEO by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in June 2020. He had been serving as interim CEO for the first six months of 2020, during which time he guided LAWA’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Erbacci oversaw more than $14 billion in programs to modernize the airport, including the $5.5-billion Landside Modernization Program (LAMP), the $2-billion new midfield concourse, a $980-million revamp of Terminal 1 and a $546-million upgrade of Terminals 7 and 8. Beatrice Hsu, LAWA president emeritus and 10-year veteran of the Board of Airport Commissioners, has been chosen to serve as interim CEO.


$2.3B LAX Delta Sky Way Project Opens

The $2.3-billion Delta Sky Way project at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) was inaugurated on Aug. 29, opening ahead of schedule and on budget. Officials with Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), Delta executives, members of Los Angeles’ Board of Airport Commissioners (BOAC) and other key stakeholders celebrated the opening. Hensel Phelps was the general contractor for the project with Arup the engineer-of-record and Gensler serving as the architect under Arup. The final section of the project includes a new enclosed passageway that creates a direct post-security connection between the upper floors of Terminal 3 and Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT).


$180M Road Elevation Project Secures Funding

The effort to raise State Route 37 in Northern California to guard against future flooding received $155 million in federal funding in August. The 21-mile-long roadway from U.S. 101 to I-80 crosses Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties across critical marsh and tidal habitats. The $180-million project aims at raising SR 37 by 30 ft over Novato Creek. CalTrans officials say sea level rise would leave the highway underwater by 2050 without the upgrade. The federal funding is part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).


Calif. Firefighters Memorial Expansion Awarded

A design-build team of Turner Construction Co. and Lionakis has been selected by the California Fire Foundation to expand the California Firefighters Memorial in Sacramento’s Capitol Park. The current memorial was unveiled in 2002 and features a limestone wall bearing the names of the more than 1,500 firefighters who have died in the line of duty since California became a state in 1850. The wall is expected to reach capacity this year, and the work to expand it will take place following an annual ceremony that will be held this month.


Port of Stockton Rail Infrastructure Boost

The Port of Stockton was awarded $45.9 million in state funding to replace the San Joaquin River rail bridge; expand the port’s long lead track to two tracks; and complete the procurement of a zero-emission electric railcar mover. The funds are part of the state’s Rail Infrastructure Improvements for Sustainable Exports (RIISE) Project through California State Transportation Agency’s (CalSTA’s) Port and Freight Infrastructure Program (PFIP). When complete, the project will enhance rail capacity, accommodate increased freight tonnage and train frequencies, mitigate potential service disruptions and reduce long-term repair and maintenance costs.


California Groundwater Program Takes Off

The California Dept. of Water Resources (DWR) has awarded $187 million to support sustainable groundwater use and storage statewide. The funding through the Sustainable Groundwater Management (SGM) Grant Program will support 103 individual projects across 32 groundwater subbasins that will enhance groundwater monitoring, water use efficiency, groundwater recharge, recycled water and water quality. The funding will include more than $160 million that will directly benefit Native America tribes and underrepresented communities. During California’s 2023 water year, DWR has determined an estimated 3.8 million acre-ft of water has been recharged, but many of the state’s 515 groundwater basins remain depleted by drought and over-pumping.


Funds Set for Death Valley Flood Damage Repairs

Death Valley National Park

Roadways across Death Valley National Park were damaged due to flooding from Tropical Storm Hilary in August.
Photo by National Park Service/N. Bernard

The Federal Highway Administration has made $4.575 million immediately available to fund repair work needed in Death Valley National Park and other federal lands in California and Nevada following Tropical Storm Hilary in August. The “quick release” emergency relief funds will go to the National Park Service, the Forest Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to repair roads, trails, parking areas and other infrastructure damaged by flooding.


Seattle Dam Improvement Project Awarded

Seattle Public Utilities has selected Kleinschmidt Associates to provide engineering and permitting services for the evaluation of improvements to the South Fork Tolt Dam, located east of Seattle. The South Fork Tolt Project is owned and operated jointly by two departments of the city of Seattle, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and Seattle City Light (SCL). The project currently provides drinking water for approximately one-third of SPU’s 1.5 million customers in the Seattle area. The project began in January 2023 and has an estimated completion date in early 2024.


Chino Basin Program Design Completed

Environmental engineering firm Brown and Caldwell has completed the preliminary design of a 13.4-million-gallon-per-day advanced water purification facility (AWPF) for the $650-million Chino Basin Program (CBP). When integrated into the Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA) Regional Water Recycling Plant No. 4 in Rancho Cucamonga, the new AWPF will treat 15,000 acre-ft per year of recycled water from three sources, conveying purified water to a new aquifer replenishment wellfield for indirect potable reuse. Construction is slated to begin in 2026, and completion is planned for 2030.