Thursday, November 02, 2006

On the Road to Transit

On the Road to Transit
New Plaza Ahead for Rider Transfers
By Jennifer Gentile /Staff Writer

Dan McCalmon uses sandbags to secure a tarp at the Vacaville Transit Plaza construction site along E. Monte Vista Avenue. (Rick Roach/The Reporter)

Work is under way on the earliest stages of Vacaville's $3 million transit plaza project, which city staff said will be a beautiful addition to the downtown area.
On Sept. 12, the Vacaville City Council awarded the construction contract for the project to Cal Inc. of Vacaville. The local contractor was one of four bidders and accepted the project at a cost of $1.82 million.

According to the city, the expense is fully funded with grant money from the Federal Transit Administration and Transportation Development Act. Cal Inc.'s bid, which includes construction alone, was about 2 percent below the engineer's estimate.

The plaza, which is being built on .63 acres, will occupy the site where a Chevron Gas Station once stood at East Monte Vista Avenue and Cernon Street. The contractor is now in the process of excavation, said Project Engineer Jim Loomis. The work will be followed by installation of a new storm drain system, curb, gutter, sidewalk, electrical facilities and eventually a 30-foot clocktower.

Construction began on the plaza in early October, and the scheduled completion date is February 2007. The finished product will provide mass transit users with five pedestrian shelters, information kiosks, and several benches.

Transit manager Brian McLean said the plaza would be built in an "architecturally interesting fashion" with significant landscaping and styling to coordinate with other downtown improvement projects.

"This will bring a much-needed splash of green to downtown," McLean said. "It is really going to look like a small park."

According to Loomis, the project site has been vacant for about nine years. He said the gas tanks and related piping were removed in 1997 in compliance with county standards, and that no special environmental requirements have been attached to the project.

The engineer added that the project is categorically exempt, a label applied to projects that the Secretary of Resources has determined will not have significant environmental effects to the surrounding area.

In a prepared statement, Project Manager Andrew Mittleman of Cal Inc. said, "During excavation, we found very minimal debris and no contamination to the soil. We have storm water pollution controls in place, and as a company that has done both tank and environmental work are aware of any potential issues which would need to be addressed immediately. As of now, none exist."

Prior to being the site of a gas station, Loomis said houses apparently stood on the property, which is why the contractor has unearthed a large quantity of excess concrete. This has not impacted the project timeline, he said.

"The project is moving along quite well," he said.

The finished plaza will be able to handle all four of City Coach's downtown routes, McLean said, and if necessary, accommodate four to five vehicles at any one time. He said only minor route adjustments will be required when the plaza is finished.

In light of continued vandalism to the existing Kendal Street transfer station, which the plaza will replace, McLean said it should help that the new station will have increased illumination and be in a more prominent location.

"This is going to put us out front," McLean said, adding, "It will be a downtown anchor point for the future growth of our transit system."

A City Coach bus arrives Wednesday morning at the Kendal Street bus stop, located a block south of the new Vacaville Transit Plaza now under construction. (Rick Roach/The Reporter)

Jennifer Gentile can be reached at

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