Tuesday, September 27, 2011

NIT: Extended Construction Hours

Beginning on October 3, 2011 through May 9, 2012, the contractor is authorized to conduct construction activities 24-hours per day 7-days per week at the Irvington Portal in Fremont, as may be necessary to complete time critical work for the New Irvington Tunnel connections to the existing Bay Division Pipelines.

What Can I Expect?
On weekdays from 7AM to 7PM and weekends from 8AM to 5PM construction activities will focus on the crane placement of new pipe and be similar to what is currently being experienced. Outside of those hours the contractor will work on connecting and welding of pipe at the new tunnel. The operation of construction equipment (loaders, excavators and cranes) is necessary to complete this work. Worker trips to and from the site at shift changes will also take place. Tunneling is not allowed after 7PM on weekdays and 5PM on weekends. An effort will be made to complete all the work during daylight hours, and minimize work during the evenings and nights.

Will Work Take Place During the Holidays?
The contractor does not currently plan to work on Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years Day. However, they have the ability to work on those days in order to complete their work within the extended work hour period. Residents will receive advanced notice if it becomes necessary to work on those days.

Why are Extended Hours Necessary?
This work can only be completed during the winter seasons when water demand is at its lowest. It is imperative for the contractor to finish his work and re-establish full capacity water service before water demand increases in the warmer months of Spring. In order to do this, the existing waterlines are cut out for the tunnel connections only one at a time, leaving other waterlines in service. The waterlines are drained and cut out and new connection waterlines are installed. Water service will not be impacted because there is redundant capacity in the pipelines during the winter seasons.

Please call our 24-Hour Answer Line at 866.973.1476 or visit sfwater.org/nit if you have questions or comments.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Let the Digging Begin: New Calaveras Dam Breaks Ground

On September 16th, General Manager Ed Harrington joined local and state officials to break ground on the construction of the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project. The 4-year, $416 Million dam is one of only several major dams built in California in 30 years. Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer and Sharon Tapia from the California Department of Water Resources, Division of Safety of Dams were on hand along with neighbors and project supporters. The contractor cut the first notch into the existing dam since it was originally built in 1925.

The Calaveras Dam Replacement Project will replace the existing dam with a 220-feet high new seismically-designed earth and rock-fill dam that will be constructed right next to the existing one. The Calaveras Dam Replacement Project is part of the SFPUC’s $4.6 billion Water System Improvement Program (WSIP) to repair, replace, and seismically upgrade the aging pipelines, tunnels and reservoirs in the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dedicated to Safety: Tunnel Rescue Team

Excavating a tunnel is dangerous business. Skilled miners put their lives at risk every time they go underground, in conditions that may expose them to grounds that cave in, flammable gasses and groundwater that might pour in and flood the tunnel. Protecting the safety of our workers is the top priority of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and Southland Tutor Perini Joint Venture (STP). Should the unthinkable happen and miners need a rescue the Tunnel Rescue Team is ready at a moment’s notice.

Tunnel Rescue Team members are highly trained specialized tunnelers who put themselves directly in harm’s way to come to the aid of their colleagues. They are trained to enter a tunnel under hazardous conditions that would prohibit most people from entering to provide first aid, extract personnel, or put out fires.

At the New Irvington Tunnel (NIT), the Tunnel Rescue Team is a 13-member team on-call 24 hours-a-day 7 days-a-week. A back up tunnel rescue team from the Caldecott Tunnel Project is also available. First responders from CalFire and the Alameda County and Fremont Fire Departments support the Tunnel Rescue Team above ground.

The Tunnel Rescue Team practices and drills regularly to ensure their skills are ready when needed. We sincerely hope that their services will never be needed. But if they are, the NIT team invests time each day to be sure we are ready to protect the lives of the workers who are helping to ensure a reliable water supply for all of us.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Congratulations! It’s a… Killdeer!

The New Irvington Tunnel Project was home to the birth of four killdeer birds. Native to California, the killdeer nest on level surfaces of sand or stones. True to its natural behavior a female killdeer was found nesting on a dry streambed- within 100 feet of bridge that was about to be demolished!

Great care is taken to protect all wildlife our project teams come in contact with as they rebuild and seismically strengthen the Hetch Hetchy Water System. The killdeer are North American birds protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the New Irvington Tunnel’s Environmental Impact Report. While workers were preparing to demolish a temporary bridge and build a new one, environmental inspectors were busy devising measures to monitor and protect the mother killdeer and her unborn hatchlings.

Inspectors monitored the nest daily. Each time the inspectors made sure all the eggs were still in place and the mother was incubating. To further protect the killdeer, workers shifted the main construction road 25 feet and established a no disturbance buffer of 25 feet around the nest. The nest was then surrounded by a wildlife exclusion fence. Signs were posted around the fencing that read “Bid Nesting Area, Keep Out”.

After three weeks of daily monitoring the big day came when the mother killdeer hatched four eggs. Within the next couple of days the young killdeer fledged and were ready to explore their new world. As for the workers and the inspectors, they were delighted all four killdeer were healthy. Once the killdeer moved on and out of the project area everyone could get back to the vital construction of the New Irvington Tunnel.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Different Kind of Tailgate Party

Early Monday morning the men and women responsible for building the New Irvington Tunnel have one thing in mind: SAFETY. Why? Because construction can be a dangerous profession and working underground adds to the risk. This is why safety is paramount for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), the Water System Improvement Program (WSIP) and Southland/Tutor Perini Joint Venture (STP).

Safety is important every day, however, Tailgate Meetings kick off every work week for all construction personnel working onsite. It gives safety managers and construction superintendents the opportunity to reinforce safe work practices. For example, when discussing fall protection, presenters demonstrate the proper use of personal protective equipment. Workers are also reminded to strap in when they are elevated over six feet. The presentations are designed so workers think safety before, during and after any activity. Other safety topics include first aid, emergency tunnel rescue and chemical handling.

Tailgate Meetings are just one tool (incidentally they are also called Toolbox Meetings) used to promote STP’s proactive safety culture. Signs posted through out the site are another way of encouraging workers to think and practice safety. Future blog posts will go into more detail about a number of safety related topics such as emergency tunnel rescue and gas testing and training.