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Sunny Side Gateway Project Comes to an End

Wed April 06, 2011 - West Edition
Erik Pisor

After more than three years of construction, a 4-mi. (6.4 km) extension of existing State Route 52 — just east of the city of San Diego — was opened to traffic on March 29.

SR-52 is now an 18-mi. link that begins at State Route 67 in the city of El Cajon and ends near the coast at Interstate 5 in La Jolla.

Dubbed the Sunny Side Gateway Project, the job included the construction of a four-lane SR 52/State Route 67 interchange, two eastbound and westbound lanes along SR 52, and 13 bridges throughout the city of Santee, Calif.

With a total price tag of $520.5 million — which included design, right of way capital and construction capital — the SR 52 project was divided into three construction segments.

SR 52/SR 67 Interchange

This $67 million interchange project began in May 2008 and encompassed the construction of four cast-in-place, pre-stressed concrete box girder bridges that reached 75 ft. (23 m) high, and made up the four freeway connectors, according to Kurt Thomas, senior project manager of Skanska USA Civil.

To construct the bridge connectors, 34 large cast-in-drill-hole piles up to 3.38 yd. (3 m) in diameter and 33.9 yd. (31 m) long were driven.

The foundation subcontractor, Condon Johnson and Associates, used a pneumatic hammer drill unit mounted on a Manitowoc 4100 crawler crane to advance the piles through the overlying decomposed granite into the hard granite “rock sockets.”

In total nearly a million dollars worth of equipment and tools were used to conduct the bridges’ foundation work.

Aside from construction of the interchange, the project also entailed roadway improvements throughout the area including the widening of SR 67 near the interchange.

According to Thomas, one project challenge was the unanticipated rock encountered during the drainage and roadway excavation cuts.

SR 125 to Cuyamaca

This 2-mi. (3.2 km), nearly $57 million extension of SR 52 began in January 2008 and was approximately a three-year project, according to Duff Joseph, project superintendent of Lakeside, Calif.-based general contractor Erreca’s Inc.

The project involved constructing two east and westbound lanes, from the point where SR 52 ended at State Route 125 to Cuyamaca Street, and auxiliary lanes at the routes 52 and 125 interchange.

In total 11 bridges were constructed by Erreca’s at six different locations, with two of the bridges built above an existing San Diego Trolley line and near Gillespie Field, a small airport. During construction of these two bridges close coordination between Erreca and the Public Utilities Commission, the San Diego Trolley and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was necessary — especially during crane operations.

Equipment used on site included scrapers, excavators, backhoes, loaders, forklifts, motorgraders, cranes, bulldozers, compactors, deck finishing machines, pavers, rollers and dump trucks.

Upon completion of the SR 125 to Cuyamaca project 22,500 cu. yds. (17,202 cu m) of concrete was poured for 11 bridges, and 4.8 million lbs. (2.17 million kg) of rebar was used, according to Joseph. Additionally a total of 2,830 cu. yds. (2,163 cu m) of concrete and 543,000 lbs. (24,630 kg) of rebar were used to construct six retaining walls and one box culvert. A total of 1.2 million cu. yds. (917,466 cu m) of earth was excavated or imported, and 35,250 tons (31,978 t) of asphalt concrete was poured.

Cuyamaca to Magnolia

San Marcos, Calif.-based FCI Constructors was responsible for this $30 million, middle segment of the Sunny Side Gateway project, which included the construction of two eastbound and westbound lanes along SR 52 from Cuyamaca Street to Magnolia Avenue.

This segment represented a large earthmoving job, as close to one million cubic feet of dirt was moved prior to project completion.

The entire Sunny Side Gateway Project was partially paid for with $133 million from California’s Proposition 1B Transportation Bond Program and $35 million from San Diego County’s TransNet half-cent sales tax, according to Caltrans District 11. CEG

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