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Trains Avoid Traffic With $985.1M Fresno Trench

Wed January 30, 2019 - West Edition #3
Chuck Harvey – CEG Correspondent


The Fresno trench is part of a group of projects that run for 32 mi. between Avenue 19 in Madera County and American Avenue in Fresno County. The total cost of the projects is $985.1 million.
(California High-Speed Rail Authority photo)
The Fresno trench is part of a group of projects that run for 32 mi. between Avenue 19 in Madera County and American Avenue in Fresno County. The total cost of the projects is $985.1 million. (California High-Speed Rail Authority photo)
The Fresno trench is part of a group of projects that run for 32 mi. between Avenue 19 in Madera County and American Avenue in Fresno County. The total cost of the projects is $985.1 million.
(California High-Speed Rail Authority photo) About 80,000 cu. yds. of dirt must be removed in digging under SR 180. About 665,000 cu. yds. of dirt will be removed from the trench.
(California High-Speed Rail Authority photo) Recent work includes use of a crane to set pre-cast concrete girders over the northern section of the Fresno trench, near downtown Fresno.
(California High-Speed Rail Authority photo) Nearly 40 girders were placed over two days back in August.
(California High-Speed Rail Authority photo) The construction at SR 180 will be a top-down project, meaning crews will dig from the top of SR 180 to a depth of approximately 80 ft., construct a portion of the tunnel and then reconstruct the highway.
(California High-Speed Rail Authority photo)
Work is under way on the trench section as excavation continues under SR 180. Construction on SR 180 is expected to begin in late February or early March.
(California High-Speed Rail Authority photo) The SR 180 work will require lanes shifting first to the inside, then to the outside, but will not require any lane closures.
(California High-Speed Rail Authority photo) Overall, the California High-Speed Rail Authority will be able to eliminate twenty level crossings between Madera and Fresno.
(California High-Speed Rail Authority photo)

California High Speed Rail's Fresno Trench & State Route 180 Passageway project will take trains under highways and streets to avoid car traffic.

The result will be greater safety for drivers using SR 180 and other streets in Fresno.

Constructing the trench is a massive job for crews because of its 2-mi. length. The even greater challenge has been residents and farmers opposed to high-speed rail cutting through the valley. Legal challenges have caused some delays.

"On any project of this magnitude there will be occasional challenges over permitting, right-of-way, and construction related delays, etc.," said Toni Tinoco, information officer II for the California High-Speed Rail Authority. "Each design-builder has been able to overcome a number of those challenges and progress design and construction."

Construction of the Fresno trench began in 2016. Work under SR 180 is projected to be completed by the end of 2019. Completion of the entire Fresno trench project is projected for 2022.

The Fresno trench is part of a group of projects that run for 32 mi. between Avenue 19 in Madera County and American Avenue in Fresno County. The total cost of the projects is $985.1 million.

Funding for the project is from California Proposition 1A bonds; American Recovery and reinvestment Act; and State Cap and Trade proceeds.

The Fresno trench is being built starting between Olive and Belmont avenues and running to Stanislaus Street in downtown Fresno. Work has begun in an area located near Thorne and H streets.

The underground crossing of SR 180 is in addition to the 2-mi. trench. High-speed trains will travel under State Route 180 as well as the San Joaquin Railroad and Union Pacific tracks and Dry Creek Canal so trains can avoid at-grade crossings. It will be the first section of the track alignment to go below grade. The trench will reach a depth of approximately 40 ft.

The construction at SR 180 will be a top-down project, meaning crews will dig from the top of SR 180 to a depth of approximately 80 ft., construct a portion of the tunnel and then reconstruct the highway.

The SR 180 work will require lanes shifting first to the inside, then to the outside, but will not require any lane closures.

Excavation Under SR 180

Work is under way on the trench section as excavation continues under SR 180. Construction on SR 180 is expected to begin in late February or early March.

Recent work includes use of a crane to set pre-cast concrete girders over the northern section of the Fresno trench, near downtown Fresno. Nearly 40 girders were placed over two days back in August.

Meanwhile, closer to SR 180, work continues on a drainage structure that will relocate a 60-in. storm sewer line to the north side of the highway. Crews had to excavate to reach the bottom of the trench, where a concrete box will be constructed that will carry the trains under SR 180, a rail spur and the Dry Creek Canal. As they dig down, they add to the retaining wall with a rebar mesh and sprayed concrete, also known as shotcrete.

Excavation work for the trench will last about 18 months. The work will require the east and westbound lanes to be moved to accommodate the construction project. Traffic controls will be in operation throughout the trench digging phase and drivers might experience slight delays.

Construction work began near Thorne and H streets in February 2016. The soil was excavated to allow the foundations to be built. Once the trench is completed, it will start between Olive and Belmont avenues and continue for 2 mi. to Stanislaus Street.

The great advantage of this trench is that the high-speed trains won't have to cross highways and roads, making it a key safety feature. Overall, the California High-Speed Rail Authority will be able to eliminate twenty level crossings between Madera and Fresno.

Design-Build

The trench project is a design-build effort. The contractor is joint venture Tutor-Perini-Zachry-Parsons and covers roughly 32 mi. between Avenue 19 in Madera County and American Avenue in Fresno County. The design-builder continues to improve the design while acquiring permits and obtaining third-party utility permits.

Acquisition of the necessary right-of-way also continues. The Fresno trench project is under way in seven locations and crews have been bringing in dirt for several miles of berm that will carry high-speed trains at grade.

Contractors, Materials, Equipment

Currently six subcontractors are on the job. They are: Becho Inc. of Sylmar, Calif.; Martinez Steel of Fresno, Calif.; Landvazo Bros. Inc. of Hayward, Calif; Superior Gunite of Sylmar, Calif.; Avison Construction Inc. of Madera, Calif., and Fisk Electric of Houston, Texas.

The number of workers varies depending on the activity. On average, 20 workers comprise the dayshift. When performing traffic shifts on SR 180, day crews switch to a night shift schedule as required.

Construction crews will be busy with various materials including concrete and asphalt. Over the course of the project they will lay 20,000 cu. yds. of concrete for SR 180, 100,000 cu. yds. of concrete for the Fresno trench, 1,700 tons of asphalt for paving SR 180 and 6.7 million lbs. of temperature-support steel.

Heavy equipment at the construction sites includes excavators, cranes, loaders, drilling rigs and bulldozers.

Impacts

Impacts of the project are expected to be typical for this size of project.

Construction of the Fresno Trench beneath SR 180 involves five stages of lane shifts and traffic impacts.

Dust control is a typical part of all construction on the project. Water trucks are used throughout the project to mitigate dust from construction.

About 80,000 cu. yds. of dirt must be removed in digging under SR 180. About 665,000 cu. yds. of dirt will be removed from the trench.

The project is expected to provide economic benefits in construction and operations jobs. It should also sharply improve tourism in the Central Valley.

CEG