Northern California has lots of exciting projects going on and I’ve got my eye many of them. And with the first of the year just around the corner, I would like to take a quick look at three of the larger ones to see what is going on.
One of them is the California High Speed Rail (CHSR) project, the proposed high-speed rail system that will run from San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles and Anaheim in its first phase. Costing somewhere around $70 billion, the project is being funded through voter-approved state bonds, federal funding grants, local funding, and public-private partnerships. The trains will operate at speeds of up to 220 miles per hour. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2013.
The latest news on this project is that it received Proposition 1A funds of $10.9 million for the ACE Stockton Passenger Track Extension (Gap Closure) project in San Joaquin County on October 24 and hired a chief engineer of from Amtrak as its Chief Program Manager.
As far as actual construction news, the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) last month issued a Record of Decision that approved the alignment from Merced to Fresno, allowing construction to begin next year. Authorities say this section will be one of the first to begin construction. For more information on the rail line, visit: www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov.
Then there is the $4 billion Transbay Transit Center Project in San Francisco. This visionary transportation and housing project will transforms downtown and the San Francisco Bay Area’s regional transportation system by creating a “Grand Central Station of the West” in the heart of a new transit-friendly neighborhood.
The project will replace the current Transbay Terminal at First and Mission streets in San Francisco with a modern regional transit hub connecting eight Bay Area counties and the State of California through 11 transit systems: AC Transit, BART, Caltrain, Golden Gate Transit, Greyhound, Muni, SamTrans, WestCAT Lynx, Amtrak, Paratransit and future High Speed Rail from San Francisco to Los Angeles/Anaheim.
The last big news there was on September 10, when workers unearthed a Woolly Mammoth tooth and part of a jaw. The 11,000-yr-old remains were found by a crane operator about 110-ft below the ground. The Transbay Joint Powers Authority called in a paleontologist who said the tooth and jaw are believed to come from a Columbian Mammoth, a relative of the modern day elephant that lived in the Bay Area during the Pleistocene Period. Back then, the area was a grassy land of saber tooth cats, giant ground sloths, mastodons, elk, tapirs, shortfaced bear, and bison.
On the construction side of things, crews recently demolished the former Transbay Terminal facility and bus ramps to make way for the new Transbay Transit Center at First and Mission streets in downtown. Foundation work is currently underway for the new Transbay Transit Center and will continue through early 2014. For more information, visit http://transbaycenter.org.
Another massive endeavor is the $6.4 billion seismic retrofit of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. This project will seismically upgrade one of the nation’s busiest bridges and turn it into a “global icon.” There are a total of 20 construction contracts and four major structural components involved in the new East Span. The major structural components are, from West to East, the Yerba Buena Island Transition Structure, the Self-Anchored Suspension Span, the Skyway and the Oakland Touchdown.
The project came about after a 250-ton section of the East Span’s upper deck collapsed during the 7.1-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989. After inspection, Caltrans found that the best idea would be to build a new bridge.
Current construction highlights include completion of the Self-Anchored Suspension (SAS) Span load transfer. This challenging work involves transferring the weight of the SAS roadways from the falsework to the single main cable. This process is scheduled for completion next month. The estimated date for opening the new bridge to traffic in both directions is Labor Day 2013. For more information, visit: http://baybridgeinfo.org/.