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State Route 178 Widening in Bakersfield, California, Wins 2018 OCEC Engineering Project Achievement Award

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T.Y. Lin International (TYLI), a globally recognized, full-service infrastructure consulting firm, announces that the State Route 178 (SR 178) Widening project in Bakersfield, California, has received a 2018 Engineering Project Achievement Award from the Orange County Engineering Council (OCEC). TYLI served as Prime Consultant and Designer for the project for the City of Bakersfield. The OCEC awards program recognizes the best of the best in engineering for Southern California.

Completed in May 2017, the SR 178 Widening project improves traffic capacity and enhances mobility to accommodate future traffic demand on this primary access corridor for the fast-growing Bakersfield area. The $25.5 million project widened three miles of SR 178 from two to six lanes from just east of Morning Drive to Masterson Street, and from two to four lanes from Masterson Street to Miramonte Drive.

In order to deliver transportation projects in the area, the Thomas Roads Improvement Program (TRIP) was formed, which is a unique partnership between the City of Bakersfield, County of Kern, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and Kern Council of Governments. TRIP provided an optimum structure whereby designated staff from each agency could build interagency connections and work cooperatively to evaluate, design, and ultimately construct projects.

The SR 178 Widening project faced numerous design and construction challenges, including relocation of existing utilities, unsuitable soil properties, and environmental factors. Due to the 50+-year age of the highway, as-built records for installation and relocation of utilities along the route were sometimes incomplete or non-existent. Utilities along the project corridor included a 36-inch gas transmission line, as well as electric, telephone, fiber optic, water, and sewer facilities. Areas for relocation of these facilities were extremely limited, calling for very careful planning by TYLI, the City of Bakersfield, Caltrans, and the utility companies. TYLI addressed these challenges and prepared plans, specifications, and estimates (PS&E) under an accelerated schedule to meet funding deadlines.

The City of Bakersfield also has an active population of the endangered San Joaquin kit fox, requiring mitigation and monitoring before and during construction. Prior to construction, dens within the project area were monitored and collapsed upon assurance that kit foxes were not present. Project areas with indications of wildlife activity were cordoned off until the wildlife exited the area. Additionally, construction equipment encountered localized pockets of unsuitable soil, requiring digout, replacement, and recompaction of subgrade soil. The contractor worked around these sensitive areas to maintain the tight project schedule. Additionally, all construction workers were required to attend threatened and endangered species training for information on how to recognize the kit fox, potential dens, and required regulations regarding the species.

Photo credit: Gilbert Vega