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State Department Seeks Contractors for Broadband Work

A large transportation entity in state government is taking a significant step toward improving high-speed Internet in Southern California.

A key state transportation entity is seeking assistance from vendors in improving communication around California.

In a request for qualifications (RFQ) released July 12, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) wants to hear from contractors capable of assisting it in a project to build “portions of the middle-mile broadband network within state right-of-way.” Among the takeaways:

  • The project, according to the RFQ, is in the counties of San Diego and Riverside at various locations on Interstate 15 and state routes 76, 78, 79, and 371. Project goals, generally, include building the middle-mile network “expeditiously, leveraging existing infrastructure, networks, and construction projects, where feasible” — and having it totally done with all lanes open and no further impacts to drivers by December 2025. Other goals include delivering “affordable, open-access, middle-mile broadband infrastructure to enable last-mile network connectivity” around the state, promoting collaboration and partnership among Caltrans, the California Department of Technology and the construction manager.
  • Deliverables will include all “labor, equipment, services, and support facilities for the project elements.” These will also include preconstruction services such as validating and assisting in department/consultant design; constructability, operability and regulatory reviews; assistance in shaping the scope of work; and risk identification and mitigation. The successful candidate will also be tasked with validating Caltrans/consultant estimates, preparing project estimates, life-cycle cost analysis, and construction phasing.
  • Requirements include three to five project descriptions for the proposer’s team and highlighting experience in the last decade on finished projects with a comparable scope. Respondents must describe experience in specific areas including with broadband fiber-optic network systems, and constraints “such as trenching, plowing, conduit installation in bridge structures, and horizontal directional drilling in various field conditions and constraints.” Respondents must describe “construction of projects of similar size, scope, and complexity” and “accelerated construction of major elements common to broadband installation such as open trenching, micro trenching, plowing, horizontal directional drilling, fiber-optic vault, and hub shelters.” Respondents must describe experience with “construction/reconstruction using innovative designs, methods, and materials concerning broadband installation,” and experience with the equipment needed to build a middle-mile broadband network. Applicants should describe their three largest government contracts or subcontracts; or if there are none, then their three largest non-governmental contracts.
  • The project’s estimated cost is $60 million to $75 million for construction capital and $3 million to $6 million for right-of-way capital including utility relocation, according to the RFP — which is released with the assumption that the project and Caltrans’ “plan of finance” will remain eligible for federal funds. A “single-phase procurement process” will be used to choose a contractor. Part one, the preconstruction services contract, will include consulting services on design. Part two will be the construction contract to build the project. The preconstruction services contract will be a “reimbursement contract at specific rates” not to exceed $1 million. Caltrans has set the fee for that contract at 4 percent. The construction contract will be a “unit price contract.” Questions are due by Aug. 9; a statement of qualifications is due by Aug. 23. Short-list notice is expected Sept. 21, followed by proposer interviews Sept. 28. The expected award date for the preconstruction services contract is Oct. 12; the anticipated award date for the construction contract is Oct. 3, 2023.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.