2015-12-03 / Community

Cost of 101-23 freeway expansion swells

By Kyle Jorrey


AGONIZINGLY CLOSE—As work on the 101-23 freeway interchange nears completion, a problem with a sound wall that was supposed to be built along Hampshire Road has increased the cost of the project and pushed back its finish date. 
Acornfile photo AGONIZINGLY CLOSE—As work on the 101-23 freeway interchange nears completion, a problem with a sound wall that was supposed to be built along Hampshire Road has increased the cost of the project and pushed back its finish date. Acornfile photo A decision to redesign a sound wall along the 101 Freeway in Thousand Oaks could push back the scheduled completion date of the 101-23 interchange expansion weeks, if not months, according to a Thousand Oaks city offi cial.

Started in February 2014, work to expand the juncture of two of Ventura County’s busiest freeways was originally expected to last around two years.

Now it’s looking more like two-and-a-half.

“Originally, we were going to try to save the existing retaining walls, but once excavation began, that proved to be signifi- cantly expensive because of the grading difference,” said Mike Tohidian, project manager for the City of Thousand Oaks.

Tohidian said the adjustments, approved by the Thousand Oaks City Council last month, are waiting for the goahead from the Ventura County Transportation Commission and CalTrans before they can take place, an approval process that could take weeks or months.

“Right now the (completion) date is April 2016, but due to the time it could take for it to go up to Caltrans administration, we could get a slip on the date,” Tohidian said.

The sound wall in question is on the south side of the 101 Freeway along southbound Hampshire Road. The wall is being moved to provide the greatest possible reduction in freeway noise to a nearby residential area on Willow Lane, according to city report.

Tohidian said the original plans were based on information from private surveys for the private land.

“We didn’t have a good grade difference survey on the private side,” he said.

In addition to costing time, the changes will also cost money—around $900,000.

In November, Thousand Oaks City Manager Scott Mitnick executed a third amendment to the cost-sharing agreement among the city, Caltrans and the Ventura County Transportation Commission.

The amendment saw the total cost of the expansion, now in its 21st month, swell from $33.6 million to $37.5 million, a difference of nearly $4 million.

The 11 percent increase is due to “additional unanticipated site conditions that have required more engineering design support, Caltrans construction support efforts and extra work by the contractor,” said a Nov. 10 city staff report.

Because of the sound wall issue, Caltrans anticipates the contractor, Security Paving Inc., will file a loss-of-time claim that could amount to $1,700 for every day of lost time.

The extra cost would cover overhead like rental of trailers, communications devices and other items the contractor will need longer than originally anticipated, Tohidian said.

“Depending upon the negotiated compensation, the total change-order cost could be up to $1,200,000,” the report states.

The $37.5-million price tag for the work is still below the original estimate of $42 million made in 2013, when the city first agreed to loan the money to get the long-anticipated project off the ground.

Money for the work is coming from three sources: a loan from the City of Thousand Oaks’ general fund reserves, California Transportation Commission’s Trade Corridors Improvement Fund and the federal Regional Surface Transportation Program.

Reporter Becca Whitnall contributed to this story.

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