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State Transportation Department in Early Stages on Broadband Work

The state department wants to hear from companies capable of assisting it in building out inland portions of California’s middle-mile broadband network.

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One of the state’s most familiar transportation departments wants to hear from IT companies regarding upcoming technology work.

In a request for qualifications (RFQ) released earlier this month, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) calls for responses around “Imperial Middle-Mile Broadband Network Construction” from firms capable of providing it with “Construction Manager/General Contractor (CMGC) Services.” The RFQ is another aspect among many in the state’s ongoing work to extend high-speed Internet to residents and businesses statewide. These have included other RFQs and, as Industry Insider — California reported earlier this month, “two virtual outreach and engagement sessions for contract opportunities on the Middle-Mile Broadband Network.” Both of these sessions required pre-registration; the second event will be held Tuesday. Among the takeaways on this RFQ:

  • Caltrans seeks CMGC services for “design and construction” on state highways in Imperial County – on portions of state routes 78, 86 and 111, according to the RFQ. More specifically, the project will “install broadband conduit and fiber on (Interstate) 8, Route 78, 86, and 111 as part of the Middle-Mile Broadband Network Program.” Project goals include building the network “expeditiously, leveraging existing infrastructure, networks, and construction projects, where feasible” and having it finished “with all lanes open to traffic without further impacts to the traveling public by December 2025.” Project scope will include about 265 miles of middle-mile broadband installation; “maintenance of high-volume traffic” on the routes and interstate in question as well as on local roads; coordinating with businesses, schools, “cities, public utilities, and property owners” nearby. Network installation will include trenching, pavement rehabilitation, landscaping; and vault and hub construction.
  • The construction manager (CM) selected will be responsible for “furnishing all labor, equipment, services and support facilities for the project elements.” Around design-related preconstruction, these will include validating Caltrans or consultant designs; assisting the department or consultant on design; validating Caltrans/consultant estimates; doing life cycle cost analysis; and doing value analysis/engineering. In the area of cost-related preconstruction, the CM selected will have responsibilities including preparing project estimates; doing material selection and cost forecasting; and doing cost risk analysis. In the area of schedule-related preconstruction, the CM must perform duties including construction phasing, developing sequence of design work; and preparing and managing project schedules. In the area of administrative-related preconstruction, the CM will have duties including third-party impact avoidance and reduction strategies; preparing document control; and coordinating with third-party stakeholders.
  • Requirements include providing “a brief narrative summary of the capability and capacity of each major participant”; and for the firm, three to 10 project descriptions for the proposer team and other entities, particularly around “projects of similar size, scope and constraints” and detailing experience 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 should also detail their experience with the “accelerated construction” of “major elements common to broadband fiber-optic network installation” like trenching, “fiber-optic vault and hub shelters”; their experience constructing/reconstructing broadband fiber-optic network installation and in using the equipment required.
  • The RFQ was released Nov. 4 and the CMGC project’s estimated cost is $88.86 million for construction capital and $4.8 million for right-of-way capital, including utility relocation. The Preconstruction Services Contract will be a “reimbursement contract at specific rates not to exceed $1.5 million”; Caltrans is setting the fee at 4 percent. The construction contract will be a unit price contract, per the RFQ. Questions are due by Wednesday; statements of qualification in electronic and hard copy format are due Dec. 14 and should be ranked Jan. 6. It’s anticipated the preconstruction services contract will be awarded Jan. 23 and a notice to proceed will come Feb. 13. The construction contract is anticipated to be awarded in April 2024.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.