Published December 16, 2014
Volume 22, Number 12

Caltrans Office Puts Workers Near Construction
In the Middle of the Action for Work on I-580 & I-680

Your friendly neighborhood Caltrans staff, pictured left to right, Senthil Kumar – Senior Engineer,
Satinder Grewal – Resident Engineer, Siavosh Moghadam – Resident Engineer.

By Zoe Francis

Caltrans engineers and other employees are close to the action with a new field office located conveniently in Hacienda.
The new 17,000-square-foot office gives engineers, field biologists and a plethora of other workers easy access to construction projects on Interstates 580 and 680.
“Right now, we’re working on several projects worth about $200 million,” L. Senthil Kumar, senior transportation engineer, explained. “We have about 60 people working in Hacienda. We are administering all of the construction projects along 580, in Livermore, Castro Valley and this area. We also work on jobs on 680 in Fremont to right about here in Pleasanton.”
Caltrans, formally known as the California Department of Transportation, has a regional headquarters in Oakland. But the government agency typically opens field offices to put employees right in the middle of the action.
“We try to be as close to the construction projects at possible,” Senthil Kumar said. “We try to have field offices close to the work sites because we have work being done day and night. Most of the work is done at night, so a lot of our staff works at night. It makes sense to be closer to the jobs.”
Currently, the biggest job in the area is the expansion of 580 from Pleasanton to Greenville Road in Livermore for the addition of high occupancy toll lanes. Lanes are being added in both the westbound and eastbound directions.
“My group is all field engineers that check the contractors’ work on our freeways,” he said. “The engineers make sure everything is built in accordance to our specifications and meet the quality. Most of the (field office) staff is engineers.”
“Field biologists are here to make sure we are following all the permits properly,” he added. “They are always out there looking for endangered species like the tiger salamander or the red-legged frog. The biologists are out there to make sure (the animals) don’t come into our work area or we don’t interfere with their habitat.”
The new location, which opened in September, is substantially larger than most Caltrans field offices because this site hosts a construction lab.
“We take samples from the job sites,” Senthil Kumar said. “If we’re paving, we’ll take an asphalt sample from the job. Everything we do has to have quality assurance and quality control testing. We have to make sure the contractor is meeting our department standards. All of that is done in our lab.”
The field office also has a survey department and a large room to host regional meetings. Caltrans has a three-year lease at Hacienda with an option to extend it another two years.
In addition to the massive I-580 project, the local field office will soon launch a widening project on northbound 680 from Fremont to Pleasanton. An eastbound 580 addition is also planned.
“On eastbound 580, we’re building another lane on the Altamont pass right before you get to Tracy,” he noted. “It’s called a truck-climbing lane. We’re building another lane for those trucks that are slow as they’re climbing up the pass.”
The local field office was previously located in Livermore where engineers and other staff tackled the widening of Highway 84, also known as Isabel Avenue, from Jack London Boulevard to Concannon Boulevard in Livermore.
“The nice walls with the grapes on them are ours,” Senthil Kumar boasted.
The new Hacienda location “is better in the sense that it’s closer to a lot of restaurants,” he added. “ And it’s a little cooler here in Pleasanton than in Livermore.”
Learn more about Caltrans and its many projects at dot.ca.gov.


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