The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is performing brush removal on what will become part of the widened State Route 76 between South Mission Road and Interstate 15, although full clearing will be part of the actual construction contract.
“What’s going on out there is a pre-construction clearing operation,” said Caltrans acting project manager Carl Savage.
The pre-clearing activity, which is expected to last two to three weeks, takes down trees and other brush but does not remove that vegetation completely. “We’re not rooting all of the stuff,” Savage said.
The vegetation itself will be removed entirely during construction. “The roadway will be put in the middle of that,” Savage said.
The shaving and mowing being conducted will allow potential bidders for the construction contract to have a better perspective of the surface. The contractor will be responsible for the full removal. “They’ll start grading and moving a lot of dirt around,” Savage said.
Caltrans expects to release the bid package on April 1 and expects an eight-week period for responses. Caltrans will then meet with the apparent low bidder to ensure that the bidder is properly bonded and insured and to make other necessary arrangements prior to awarding a contract. “Mid-July we’re expecting to award the contract,” Savage said.
The award of the contract will be followed by a period of approximately 45 days to allow the contractor to move equipment on-site and to coordinate plans, so actual work will likely start in late August or early September. The construction is expected to be a three-year process, although the widened road is expected to be open to traffic in phases over the course of those three years.
The construction to widen Highway 76 from two lanes to four between South Mission Road and I-15 is the second phase of the State Route 76 East project. (State Route 76 West widened the highway from Interstate 5 to Melrose Drive in Oceanside; the State Route 76 Middle work widened the road from Melrose Drive to South Mission Road). The first phase of the State Route 76 East work was improving the interchange at Highway 76 and I-15; the improved interchange was opened to traffic in August 2013.
The entire State Route 76 East project has an estimated cost of $201 million which includes federal funding, the county’s TransNet sales tax, the County of San Diego’s Transportation Impact Fee and other developer contributions, and contributions from Indian tribes. The widening project has an estimated $100 million cost, including the current clearing tasks as well as the construction contract.
“We’re just trying to get everything we need to have done into our contract unit’s hands so they can put the contract package out there for the bidders to bid on,” Savage said.