The Union Democrat

Making progress

Constructi­on will continue into next year on major public projects

- By ALEX MACLEAN The Union Democrat

Work continues on

the Community Resilience Center on

Ferretti Road in Groveland, where workers are winterizin­g the building so they can work inside during rainy or snowy weather (top). Capital

Project Director Maureen Frank, 57, of Sonora, points to an

area where a small conference room will

be at the Groveland center (above). Boyer

Constructi­on project manager Jesse Oliva,

39, of Tuolumne (photo right, at left)

oversees workers framing with metal studs inside the new

Community Resilience Center on Bay Avenue intuolumne on Friday morning. Workers are (from

left) Oliva, Corey Boer, 51, of Salida, and Billy Weitzel, 34,

of Modesto.

Constructi­on is nearing the halfway point on community resilience centers in Tuolumne and Groveland following supply-chain issues that set back the projects almost two months.

Estimated to cost nearly $25 million combined, the two centers are funded entirely by a portion of a $70 million federal grant that California received in 2016 through the National Disaster Resilience Competitio­n for projects designed specifical­ly to help Tuolumne County recover from the 2013 Rim Fire and withstand future catastroph­es.

Robert E. Boyer Constructi­on Inc., a Sonora-based company that received the $16.7 million contract to build the facilities, and its subcontrac­tors have been working to erect the steel framing of the buildings and put roofs over them ahead of winter so progress will be able to continue in the coming months.

Deputy County Administra­tor Maureen Frank, who is overseeing the projects, estimated constructi­on was more than 40% complete on the Tuolumne center and nearly 40% on the one in Groveland.

“Everything is really looking good,” she said. “It really makes a difference to have a local contractor.”

The facilities are designed to function as evacuation shelters during times of emergency and as community centers for public use at all other times.

Each center will be about 8,775 square feet and contain a lobby area, office space, large gathering room for up to 200 people, commercial kitchen, bathrooms and up to two classrooms, in addition to parking lots with approximat­ely 200 spaces.

They each will also have other features unique from each other that are designed to meet the specific needs of each community, such as an outdoor amphitheat­er for performanc­es and presentati­ons at the one in Groveland.

Constructi­on began in May on the center at Bay Avenue and Cherry Boulevard in Tuolumne, followed a few weeks later by the one off Ferretti Road in Groveland.

Frank said they ran into a supply-related problem that set back constructi­on by 56 days due to the county’s architectu­ral contractor, the Sacramento-based Lionakis, having to redesign the roof trusses on both buildings.

The delay will push the earliest opening date for both centers likely to around the end of September, though Frank said it could be later if she’s able to acquire funding for some specific features that were not covered by the federal grant.

“It will probably be a month to a month and a half after constructi­on is completed,” she said of when the public would be able to start using the centers.

There are several other major public projects currently under constructi­on throughout the county that include a $35 million new sewage plant in Sonora, roughly $8 million interchang­e project on Highway 108 at Peaceful Oak Road, and $2 million realignmen­t of the Parrotts Ferry Road and Highway 49 intersecti­on near Columbia.

Such constructi­on projects are good for the local economy, Frank said.

“It helps out the county’s general revenues when there is a lot of constructi­on going on,” she said. “A lot of money swirls around in the county.”

Tuolumne Utilities District said in early December that its contractor for the constructi­on of its new Sonora Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility at the south end of Southgate Drive near downtown Sonora was constructi­ng two secondary clarifiers that are 65 feet in diameter and18 feet deep.

The agency said wastewater will flow from two new aeration basins into the clarifiers, where floating solids such as oil and grease float to the top and are skimmed off and removed. Other solids known as sludge settled at the bottom of the basin to be collected by a rotating rake system and removed.

Some of the sludge is then conveyed back to aeration basins to repeat the cycle, then the remaining sludge is thickened and processed to be hauled off site.

Constructi­on on the new plant, which will replace the current one that was completed in 1978 in the same location, began in October and is expected to take less than two years to complete.

Funding for the plant comes from a $24.9 million low-interest loan and $8.5 million in grant dollars from the U.S. Department of Agricultur­e, with TUD contributi­ng approximat­ely $8.8 million of its own funds from wastewater reserves.

The county Public Works Department is also expecting contractor­s to break ground later this month on the realignmen­t of Parrotts Ferry Road and Highway 49, also known as the Pedro Wye.

Blossom Scott-heim, supervisin­g engineer for the county, said the contractor­s were out this week setting up fencing around environmen­tally sensitive areas and traffic control signs for when the work begins.

Scott-heim said they are waiting for next week’s expected multiday storm to roll through, with the plan still to complete the project by March depending on the weather over the coming months.

The project consists of widening Parrotts Ferry Road in the area, constructi­ng a right-turn lane from Highway 49 onto Parrotts Ferry Road and left-turn lane from Parrotts Ferry Road onto Union Hill Road, and eliminatin­g the current “swing lane” that currently connects Highway 49 to Parrotts Ferry Road.

Meanwhile, communicat­ions staff at Caltrans said work on the Peaceful Oak Interchang­e project has been placed on “winter suspension” and is not expected to resume until spring.

Caltrans expects to complete the project by May 30, at which point motorists will have access to a new entrance ramp to get onto eastbound Highway 108 from Peaceful Oak Road and exit ramp for westbound motorists on Highway 108 to get off at Peaceful Oak Road.

Both ramps were subtracted from the $53 million second phase of the East Sonora Bypass project eight years ago in order

to cut costs at the time.

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 ?? / Union Democrat ?? Shelly Thorene
/ Union Democrat Shelly Thorene
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 ?? Courtesy photo
/Tuolumne Utilities District ?? Photos from early December showstuolu­mne Utilities District contractor­s have begun constructi­on on the $35 million Sonora Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility off Highway 108 near downtown Sonora.
Courtesy photo /Tuolumne Utilities District Photos from early December showstuolu­mne Utilities District contractor­s have begun constructi­on on the $35 million Sonora Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility off Highway 108 near downtown Sonora.

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