- Company: Stacy and Witbeck, Inc.
- Industry: Transportation
- Location: Portland, Oregon
- Expected Completion Date: September 30, 2015
- Project Website
The East Segment of the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit project was a seven-mile extension of Portland’s existing light rail system which is owned and operated by TriMet. The project was the largest and final of four construction projects that collectively added a new MAX Orange Line to Portland’s existing light rail system. Ultimately, the project ran track through downtown areas and adjacent to local businesses and three active freight railroads. The total construction contract for this work was $300 million.
What impact does this project have on America?
The East Segment was built with the use of federal transportation funds. This project adds valuable transit infrastructure to the City of Portland which is a civic leader in the United States for sustainable living considerations. The project adds a much needed corridor into Portland’s southeast quadrant and alleviates car congestion on the main north-south state highway into the city center each day. Parking facilities are at maximum capacity only two months after the line opened, proving the need and popularity of this new light rail alignment.
Influx of Money to Local Workers, Businesses and Vendors
Overall this project brought much needed jobs and trickle down dollars to local workers, vendors, and subcontractors. In order to construct a project of this magnitude, the project team relied on over 476 subcontractors. A major project challenge was the management of these subcontracts. Work had to be broken into doable scopes, solicited and bid fairly, contracted, and then construction-managed and tracked. Fifty -four percent of the project was constructed by subcontractors. The project took a grand total of 1,455,000 craft manhours to complete! The safety record for the project was measured against industry standards; the excellent safety performance resulted in a lost time incident rate of only 0.4, which is almost three times below the average for heavy civil construction.
A value of TriMet is to use their project to infuse the local workforce and businesses. Whenever possible, all major materials were supplied by local vendors and sources. Another challenge on the project included exceeding mandatory workforce apprenticeship training and hiring goals of 20 percent of all manhours; investing in the future of craft workforce. Twenty-five percent of the workforce was made up of minority craftsmen and nine percent of the manhours were female. These statistics are well above the norms for construction in the area. Twenty-seven percent of the contract was subcontracted out to minority, women-owned or other disadvantaged businesses.
Art Work, Landscaping and Public Spaces:
A multi-use path constructed in Milwaukie called the Trolley Trail includes construction of paths, art installations, and specialized landscaping. There are five different artists’ pieces installed along the Trolley Trail that were constructed from trees removed on the project. The trail ends at the new Park Plaza which is a large open brick plaza with benches and art installations. The project also performed $600,000 of wetland mitigation in and around Johnson Creek and its tributaries. Work included stream bed cleanup and channeling, replanting, and installation of an interpretative boardwalk. Seventeenth Avenue from SE McLoughlin north to SE Rhine has landscaping on each side of the guideway and includes 38 art installations (the art boats), created by a local artist.
The project strived for sustainability in project design and construction. Good examples included on the project include solar panels installed at station shelters, eco-roofs installed on all project systems buildings, and LED ‘Dark-Sky’ street lighting. The substation at Southeast Tacoma is powered by a regenerative braking storage system, harnessing the braking power of trains as they enter a platform to power them as they takeoff to leave the same platform. Wetland mitigation work opened up Johnson Creek and its tributaries to re-establish fish spawning.
What interesting obstacles or unusual circumstances did you overcome to complete the project?
Project challenges included maintenance of traffic though, adjacent, and over major city arteries and through downtown Milwaukie. As such, the project crosses through the jurisdiction of five municipalities and their associated specifications (City of Portland, City of Milwaukie, Clackamas County, Oregon Department of Transportation, and Multnomah County). The project built structures over Hwy 99E and Southeast Powell and adjacent to active freight railroad corridors. Phased construction practices and close coordination with stakeholders was required. Additionally, roughly half of the alignment was constructed adjacent to active heavy freight railroads. Much coordination was required in order to successfully build bridges and structures in and around active railroad routes.
The project schedule was driven by the 218 right-of-way property acquisitions required to build the alignment. Project schedule often had to leap frog around straggling acquisitions and schedule was often controlled by permit procurement.
What dangers and risks did you encounter, and describe any extraordinary methods used to keep workers safe?
Several of the bridge structures were constructed above active roadways and adjacent to live and active railroads. Roadways were shut down for major girder placements but the majority of the work was performed above live traffic. Standard industry measures for worker and pedestrian safety were implemented and strictly enforced. This includes lifeline tie-off procedures and the installation of netting and falsework between girders to prevent tools and materials from entering active roadways.
How did you leverage new technologies to work faster and reduce waste?
The project was constructed over a seven-mile alignment. The most revolutionary technology implemented on this project was the use of iPads for each foreman and crew. With the iPad foremen could access the most up-to-date plans which reduced the chances of building off of obsolete drawings. Also with the iPads the contractor used HeavyJob (by HCSS) timecard management software. This was a MAJOR timesaver. Not only did it reduce the foremen having to deliver timecards to the main office daily, but it eliminated the need for a full-time timecard clerk, as HeavyJob was able to link directly with the contractor’s accounting software for timecard and quantity reporting.