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Transportation Department Seeks Help Boosting Connectivity

The state department is calling for responses from firms that can assist it with a large build across several local governments.

Connected city
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One of the state’s key transportation departments wants to hear from companies capable of assisting it in improving California’s connectivity.

The project is aimed at improving Internet across three local governments in areas of the San Joaquin Valley, the state’s “gold country” and the High Sierra.

In a request for qualifications (RFQ) released Aug. 29, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) wants to hear from contractors capable of providing “broadband middle-mile network construction manager/general contractor services (CMGC) for design and construction” on parts of three state highways in three counties. Among the takeaways:

  • The RFQ is for services on state routes 4, SR 99 and 152 in Merced, Madera and Calaveras counties “at various locations.” Caltrans seeks statements of qualification (SOQ) from “qualified proposers interested in entering a contract for preconstruction services, with the potential for continuing to a second contract for construction of all or part of the work.” Companies interested in providing services will work with Caltrans’ design team; their input may include “schedule, phasing, constructability, cost and estimates, value engineering, and plan review” during design; as well as preparing a “proposed price for the labor, equipment and materials” needed for the actual construction. Should that price be accepted, a “construction contract will be issued to the construction manager after the completion of the preconstruction phase so that construction of the project can begin.” 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 not guaranteed to receive a construction contract for construction if services end at completion of design.
  • More specifically, the project involves building “portions of the broadband middle-mile network, including conduit, and vaults within the state right of way,” having all lanes open to traffic by August 2026. That’s roughly 91 1/2 miles of broadband middle-mile conduit and fiber installation. Other duties may include “maintenance of high-volume traffic” on the highways in question and local roads during the build; trenching, directional drilling, bridge installation; pavement rehab, vault construction and landscaping. Construction manager duties will include validating department/consultant design; assisting/offering input in that process; and reviewing plans and documents.
  • Among the qualifications, firms should document three to five project descriptions; or, in projects “in which several of the proposed major participants were involved,” a single project description may be given. Respondents should highlight their experience in the past decade on “completed construction projects having a scope comparable to that anticipated for this project,” 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.” Companies should also indicate experience with “accelerated construction of major elements common to broadband fiber-optic network installation such as open trenching, micro trenching, plowing, horizontal directional drilling, fiber-optic vault, and hub shelters.”
  • Estimated cost of the CMGC project is $31.8 million for construction capital and $160,000 for right-of-way capital including utility relocation. Questions are due by Sept. 20. SOQ are due by Oct. 4, for electronic and hard-copy versions. Ranking determinations are anticipated Oct. 25. The award of the preconstruction services contract is expected Nov. 8; the anticipated notice to proceed is expected Dec. 2. The anticipated award of the construction contract is in July 2024.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.