2013 Archives

Kato Road Grade Separation Project Reaches Milestone for Water Quality November 2013

The construction of tree well filters was recently completed for Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority's Kato Road Grade Separation Project. The new tree well filters remove pollutants from stormwater runoff prior to discharging to the downstream storm drainage system. The project will also use biofiltration swales to further treat runoff and meet the project's goal of treating 100% of the added and reworked impervious surface areas. The Kato Road Grade Separation Project separated the grade of the existing Union Pacific railroad crossing at Kato Road in Fremont by constructing a new two-span double-track railroad bridge structure and depressed profile for Kato Road. The project was being built to make way for the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Silicon Valley Rapid Transit Project (SVRT), which will extend BART from Warm Springs to San Jose. WRECO, as part of the SVRT project team, provided design of storm drains, stormwater treatment, sanitary sewers and water lines, in addition to floodplain studies and pump station hydrology.

Transforming Neighborhoods: LID and Green Streets September 2013

Through groundbreaking innovations, pilot projects, and successful partnerships with government agencies and local municipalities, WRECO is at the forefront of implementing low impact development (LID) and green street designs. LID and green streets will be crucial to the rebuilding and expansion of our communities' infrastructure so as to minimize environmental impacts and protect our water resources, while promoting healthy, sustainable communities. WRECO's approach to urban LID design stresses the importance of protecting water quality by removing sediment, heavy metals, nutrients, pesticides, thermal loads, oil, and grease from runoff, establishing a more natural hydrologic watershed behavior, and integrating water into the landscape to enhance visual, social, and ecological values. Our design guidelines limit project impacts and reduce cost by utilizing natural processes rather than highly engineered solutions; they include: * Keeping stormwater runoff at the surface; * Treating stormwater before it enters drainage systems; and * Utilizing hydraulic efficiency of the roadway to deliver stormwater to specific intervention areas at low points and in open space areas. WRECO has the capability and experience to assist clients with all phases of green street projects, from feasibility studies to design to bid- and construction-phase support. WRECO has assisted municipalities in securing millions of dollars in grant funding for the development and implementation of green street projects. We are currently performing green street feasibility studies, including geotechnical investigations and initial site assessments, as well as preparing design plans and bid documents to assist local cities and counties in meeting their NPDES stormwater permit obligations. In addition, WRECO provides bid- and construction-phase support to ensure that these projects are constructed to specifications and provide the intended environmental benefit.

El Camino Real Bus Rapid Transit Project is Under Way August 2013

The El Camino Real Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project proposes to provide 17.4 miles of BRT lanes along El Camino Real between the HP Pavilion in San Jose and the Palo Alto Transit Center. BRT uses specialized vehicles that operate on city streets and in dedicated lanes to improve the speed and reliability of bus transit. The project includes converting existing lanes along El Camino Real to BRT lanes, where possible, and removing medians to accommodate new BRT lanes. In addition, the proposed project would construct 16 new BRT stations, 14 of which would be located in the median or curbside to allow for light-rail-like service. WRECO is preparing the Water Quality Study, Preliminary Geotechnical Report, and Location Hydraulic Study for the environmental phase. The Preliminary Geotechnical Report involves identifying geotechnical and geologic hazards by overlaying the project limits on existing geology and geologic hazard maps to reveal locations with specific, known hazards, such as seismic shaking, liquefaction, landsliding, and swelling soil.

Austin Vault Sand Filters Constructed for the State Route 84 Expressway Widening Project May 2013

WRECO designed two Austin Vault Sand Filters for the State Route (SR) 84 Expressway Widening Project. The depicted Austin Vault Sand Filter was the first to be installed for a Caltrans District 4 project. WRECO's design will provide stormwater treatment for 18.8 acres of SR 84, helping to preserve the water supply for numerous Bay Area residents. Zone 7 Water Agency, which derives much of its water from groundwater sources in the Livermore-Amador Valley, was concerned with contaminant plumes caused by infiltration-based stormwater treatment devices near the future Chain of Lakes groundwater recharge system, so Austin Vault Sand Filters were designed for areas near Zone 7 right-of-way. These devices are effective at removing total suspended solids, including sediments and metals, as well as dissolved metals and litter.

Kato Road Grade Separation Opens to Traffic April 2013

As part of the BART Silicon Valley Berryessa Extension Design-Build Project (SVBX), Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority constructed the Kato Road Grade Separation Project. The proposed BART alignment to Silicon Valley travels along the existing Union Pacific Railroad tracks between Grimmer Boulevard in Fremont and US 101 in San Jose. To reduce safety concerns associated with the mixing of freight, transit, automobile, and pedestrian traffic, SVBX requires 11 grade separated intersections to be constructed. Kato Road now conveys automobile and pedestrian traffic beneath the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and future BART tracks. WRECO developed the drainage and low impact development (LID) stormwater treatment design. A new bioretention area and tree well filters along Kato Road will provide stormwater treatment via infiltration through engineered compost mixtures. These facilities will remove urban pollutants, such as petroleum hydrocarbons and sediment, from stormwater before discharging into San Francisco Bay. The Kato Road Grade Separation Project was opened to traffic on April 1, 2013.

Devil's Slide Tunnel Project Completed March 2013

The new twin tunnel bores of State Route 1 in San Mateo County are set to open, and a few of WRECO's staff members were able to get a glimpse of the finished tunnels and bridges before the opening celebration on Monday, March 25. Commuters drove through for the first time on Tuesday, March 26. Caltrans District 4 constructed a new highway section along State Route 1 at Devil's Slide in San Mateo County including nearly-mile-long twin tunnel bores leading to twin bridges. This new alignment was proposed to address the previous alignment's continuous slope stability issues. WRECO assisted Caltrans and the Contractor to evaluate water quality impacts to existing surface watercourses from proposed dewatering operations for the Devil's Slide Tunnel Project. WRECO also assisted in the negotiations with the Regional Water Quality Control Board for applicable permit coverage on the dewatering activities. WRECO also worked closely with Caltrans to update the project to ensure that the project was in compliance with the Construction General Permit requirements by providing Contract Change Orders and compiling Permit Registration Documents for the State Water Resources Control Board SMARTS online input system. Finally, WRECO prepared a Water Quality Assessment Report to evaluate the potential impacts of the project to the receiving water bodies, which include an environmentally sensitive habitat. WRECO's Senior Engineer Grant Wilcox had been an instrumental part of this project during his time at Caltrans. Mr. Wilcox supervised design staff and provided consultant oversight for the investigation, tunnel design geology, hydrogeologic modeling, rockfall control, cut and cover portal design, soil nail wall design, and environmental issues, and he provided legal support for complicated groundwater issues. He also provided construction support for tunnel dewatering, rock fall safety, portal faux rock design, hilficker walls, and preliminary walls. He worked with Caltrans Environmental staff to develop and preserve California red-legged frog habitat.

WRECO Welcomes Garrett Low, P.E.! February 2013

WRECO is pleased and excited to announce our new addition to the WRECO Team: Garrett Low as a Senior Engineer/Project Manager. Mr. Low has 23 years of engineering experience on a variety of transportation projects. His typical projects include highway design, roadway improvements, and general civil projects. His experience in the project development process includes participating in value analysis studies; managing the preparation of Project Approval/Environmental Documents (PA/ED) and plans, specifications, and estimates (PS&E); and performing construction inspection. Mr. Low is familiar with the standards and requirements for many governing agencies, which enables him to efficiently prepare the PS&E for projects throughout California. His drainage experience ranges from preparation of hydrology studies to designing systems for on-site and off-site drainage. In addition to designing hydromodification mitigation for project improvements, he has also designed hydrologic and hydraulic features of wetland mitigation sites. Several of Mr. Low's recent project experiences include BART's Warm Springs Extension Project and Earthquake Safety Program; City of Oakland's As-needed Transportation Engineering Services Contract; Alameda County Transportation Commission's East Bay Greenway Project; City of Emeryville's Interstate 80/65th Street Bicycle/Pedestrian Bridge; and Solano Transportation Authority's Interstate 80 Redwood Parkway-Fairgrounds Drive Improvement Project.

WRECO Assists with Studies of Environmental Impacts for Baylands Emergency Access Levee Repair Project January 2013

WRECO is working with the City of Palo Alto on a project to repair an unstable section of the Baylands levee access road between Embarcadero Road and the intersection of the San Francisquito Creek and Marsh Front trails. Repairs include stabilizing the slopes of the levee using bio-engineering techniques that incorporate native tidal marsh vegetation and resurfacing the top of the levee with hard materials that will sustain truck loads. In addition, the project will create a milder levee bank slope with compacted soils to enhance bank stability. The City will also install rocks and cobbles at the bottom of the levee bank to prevent erosion and degradation caused by tidal erosion in the slough. The project provides unique challenges for working in environmentally sensitive areas. The adjacent slough and marshlands provide nesting and foraging habitat for migratory birds. The salt marsh is also home to endangered and threatened species such as the California clapper rail. WRECO biologists are providing constructability and design guidance to avoid or minimize effects to species and habitats. For this project, WRECO performed a biological field assessment, biological resources study, and wetland and waters delineation, and is preparing the corresponding reports. In addition, WRECO is drafting the necessary permit applications and coordinating with the permitting agencies. The permits include Section 404 and Section 401 permits from the Regional Water Quality Control Board, a Nationwide Permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and a minor permit from the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission.


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