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Transportation Department Looks to Partners to Improve Broadband

The state department is calling for responses from firms that can help it on a sizeable build in two inland counties.

A well-known state government department is seeking responses from companies that can help it improve California’s inland connectivity.

In a request for qualifications (RFQ) released Sept. 20, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) wants to hear from firms capable of providing it with “Middle-Mile Broadband Network Construction Manager/General Contractor services” for design and construction on Interstate 10 and state routes 38, 62, 74, 78, 79, 86, 95, 177 and 247 in San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Among the takeaways:

  • The state Legislature has authorized Caltrans to “engage in a construction manager/general contractor (CMGC) project delivery method as specified for projects for the construction of highways, bridges, tunnels or middle-mile broadband network,” according to the RFQ. Respondents that can deliver CMGC services will work with Caltrans’ design team on the project – and may offer input on “schedule, phasing, constructability, cost and estimates, value engineering, and plan review” during design. The construction manager chosen will also be called on to submit a “proposed price for the labor, equipment and materials” to build the project – and if Caltrans accepts the proposed price, the construction manager will be issued a construction contract once preconstruction is done. If not, Caltrans “reserves the right to end the construction manager’s participation in the project development process at the completion of the design phase” and advertise the project. The construction manager chosen will be contracted for “both the design and construction services of this project through this selection process,” but is not guaranteed to receive a construction contract to do the construction.
  • The project is to build “portions of the middle-mile broadband network within the state right of way,” providing “affordable, open access, middle-mile broadband infrastructure” that will lead to last-mile connectivity statewide. The goal is to leverage existing infrastructure, networks and builds where feasible; and to finish the project with all traffic lanes open to the public by September 2026. The build is estimated to include about “305 miles of middle-mile broadband fiber/conduit installation”; “maintenance of high-volume traffic” on the highways and routes in question during construction; coordination with other nearby construction work, cities public utilities and property owners; and coordination with local businesses and schools. Trenching, directional drilling and installation on structures will be needed as well as pavement rehab, landscaping, and vault and hub construction.
  • Requirements around experience and past performance include three to five projects for the team that are of similar size and scope; and demonstrated experience with “broadband fiber-optic network systems and constraints,” with accelerated construction timelines of “major elements common” to this type of installation; and the previous experience of members working as an “integrated team.” Respondents should also indicate how “major participants have worked together in the past” and document their experience on “conventional design-bid-build and innovative delivery projects of comparable size.” Key personnel should indicate their years of experience doing comparable work, time on the job and dates the work was done.
  • The CMGC project’s estimated cost is $151 million for construction capital and $1.6 million for right-of-way capital including utility relocation, according to the RFQ. Questions are due by Oct. 11. Statements of qualification are due by Oct. 25 and are anticipated to be ranked Nov. 16. The award of the preconstruction services contract is estimated to occur on Dec. 2. The request to return cost proposal deadline is Jan. 18; the anticipated award of the construction contract is June 30, 2023.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.