Keith Tarkalson is project manager for a joint venture of Alameda-based Stacy Witbeck and Missouri-based Herzog Contracting, which was awarded the systems contract for the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit project from Marin Civic Center to north Santa Rosa.

The Utah chapter of Associated General Contractors named Mr. Tarkalson as Superintendent of the Year in 2011 for his work on the FrontRunner South commuter rail line between Provo and Salt Lake City. Completed last year, it is a $511 million project with new track, stations and civil infrastructure on an active Union Pacific Railroad freight corridor.

Mr. Tarkalson is set to speak at the Business Journal's Construction Conference 2013 on May 15 in Santa Rosa. SMART chief engineer Bill Gamlen and he responded to Journal questions about progress of the project and upcoming bid opportunities.What's been completed so far?

Mr. Tarkalson: Here's the extent of SMART construction to date: Track demolition -- 16 milesGrade construction -- 18 milesTrack construction -- 16.5 milesAt-grade crossings -- 24Bridge replacements -- twoBridges repaired or rehabilitated -- fourStation platforms -- five

Crews are replacing the 60- to 100-year-old track along the 38.5-mile portion of the project from Marin Civic Center in San Rafael to north Santa Rosa with new rail, ties, ballast and track switches -- rebuilding from the subgrade up. This includes demolition of existing track, drainage, grading, walls, new track construction, station platform, and a signal system.

Local road crossings at the track are being upgraded with modern concrete panels, for easier passage for pedestrians, wheelchairs, bicycles and cars.

Construction on contract elements north of the Haystack Bridge in Petaluma are nearing completion. SMART is currently in the permit process for the alignment south of Haystack to Civic Center Drive. Construction on this portion of the project will continue into 2014.What are upcoming bid opportunities?

[caption id="attachment_73078" align="alignleft" width="180"] Bill Gamlen[/caption]

Bill Gamlen, chief engineer, SMART: SMART is currently in the evaluation phase for bids on the next major construction package, known as “Contract Package 4.” We expect a recommendation to come to the SMART board of directors within the next couple of months. This design-build contract is extensive in scope, as described in the request for proposal documents issued near the end of 2012.

Marin Civic Center to downtown San Rafael, aka Initial Operating Segment 2 (IOS-2). This component consists of reconstructing approximately two miles of track through very diverse conditions. It includes rehabilitation of a 1,600-foot-long tunnel, fire protection in the tunnel, retaining walls, necessary tree removal within SMART’s right of way and construction of the foundations and walls of the San Rafael station platform.

The design-builder will be performing the work and may provide subcontracting opportunities through the design-build process for track work and removal of existing rail, ties, and ballast; tree clearing and grubbing; relocation of existing utilities, grading and drainage including earthwork and modifications to existing culverts and channels; restoration of disturbed areas affected by construction; and environmental compliance.Haystack Bridge. The design-builder will be responsible for removal of the existing bridge and foundations as well as installation of the bridge purchased for replacement. Through the design-builder there may be subcontracting work to sandblast, paint, crane, moving the bridge from Napa to Petaluma and replacement of various bridge parts as necessary as well as environmental compliance.  Operations and maintenance facility (OMF). The design-builder will be responsible for building the OMF, to be located near Charles M. Schulz--Sonoma County Airport, and will provide site work and grading, generator, maintenance equipment, track work, train wash equipment and environmental work.

Station finishes and Park & Ride locations. The work will include all services, materials, labor and equipment to design all station elements of the basic structure. The design-builder will be responsible for providing the following and may have subcontracting opportunities for standard platform slab, canopy, site lighting, trash receptacles, bike racks, light poles, signage, guardrails at platform, ramps, stairs and proposed conduit runs for future installation of systems and conduit runs for ticket vending machines.

The design will be coordinated with all other project features, including systems, track work, civil, platform and site drainage, platform top slabs, etc.Pathway. Seven segments of the SMART pathway are included in Contract Package 4. The pathway will have physical protective barriers or fences between the pathway and the rail at all times during construction. Contracting opportunities in this component through the design-builder may be grading, trucking, paving and fencing.How has SMART affected local labor and purchases?

Mr. Tarkalson: Sixty-three percent of subcontractors during the first major construction contract are local, accounting for more than one-half of construction hours to date. This first contract has also put more than $7.3 million directly into the local economy through the use of local materials and service suppliers.How does this rail project compare with others your company has undertaken in suburban and rural areas?

[caption id="attachment_73079" align="alignleft" width="200"] Keith Tarkalson[/caption]

Mr. Tarkalson: A Stacy and Witbeck and Herzog Contracting joint venture recently completed 90 miles of commuter rail in Utah. That's very comparable to the SMART project.

Commuter rail construction typically spans several city, county, and utility jurisdictions, and requires significant and complex coordination with multiple stakeholders. Our project team has been very successful in developing solutions to the challenges of this work and will continue to do so on the SMART design-build commuter rail project in Sonoma and Marin counties.