With project addressing traffic around school, board green lights project

The water district’s board of directors on Jan. 27 certified the project’s final Environmental Impact Report, clearing the way towards securing a contractor to begin construction at the plant this summer.

Certification allows the district to begin soliciting bids from nine pre-qualified contractors so it can start construction this summer. The approval comes less than a week after the district met with the Rolling Hills Middle School Parent Teachers Association to discuss the work’s impact on traffic near the school, which lies less than a mile from the water treatment plant.

The final EIR evaluated construction impacts in 14 separate categories encompassing air quality, biological and cultural resources and hazardous materials. The report classified all but one of the construction impacts as less than significant or having potential for the district to make them less than significant. Only noise, while, being addressed, would not be fully eliminated. The report termed it as “an unavoidable impact,” but one that will end upon the project’s completion.

Director Barbara Keegan was encouraged by the district’s priority on appearance and use of architects to design a “softer look” to new walls and buildings by putting in additional trees and shrubs that, as they mature, will essentially cloak the new facilities.

“I have a strong preference for buildings that are sensitive to the surrounding area and that make the area look better after than prior to construction,” she said at the meeting. “I’m looking forward to seeing something attractive as well as functional.”

Read the full text of the Environmental Impact Report here. 

Restrictions will ease traffic around school

Regarding traffic, it addressed the water district’s efforts with the town of Los Gatos to establish working hours restricting truck access on More Avenue – where the school and plant is located – before 8 a.m. and after 5 p.m. Imposing these restrictions, Project Manager Mike Munson told directors, would ease the minds of the school’s parents, students and staff.

Project Manager Mike Munson outlines plant routes for parents at Rolling Hills Middle School.

Should a contractor’s trucking company not comply with restrictions, it faces a $500 fine for every offense and could potentially be fired from the job.

“(The contractors) don’t put up with it and we’ve been able to curtail these kinds of activities pretty quickly,” said Munson. “In meeting with the parents at the school, they are relieved that we set up these restrictions,” Munson said.

The Jan. 21 meeting at Rolling Hills drew about a dozen parents, with questions focused on increased truck traffic along More Avenue, particularly during school hours, and the cost of the project to the area’s residents. For a complete list of questions asked and more detailed answers from the project team, click here.

Always available

The project team will continue to provide progress reports and responding to the neighborhood during the construction period. It will consistently update this blog, distribute notices to more than 2,000 residents and post the 24-hour contact information for Neighborhood Liaison Tony Mercado (tmercado@valleywater.org and 408-426-1039) at the construction site.

“As complaints come up from time to time, we will deal with them in a very timely manner,” Munson said.

Peaking factors

In response to Director Barbara Keegan and former water district Director Pat Ferraro, Munson said the project team would monitor the peak water demands at the treatment plant, something it examined extensively before beginning the project’s planning and design phase. Currently, the water district tracks peaking factors as needed. And while the data would not vary much from year to year or month to month, according to Munson, the team would review its performance at the end of the five year construction period. Read the full text of Ferraro’s request by clicking here.

Before the work begins, the district will hold a public pre-construction meeting that will also update the status of other projects taking place now at the facility. Those projects include those replacing treated water valves and improving sludge removal, both targeted for completion in early 2016, and seismically upgrading the operations building, scheduled to close out in mid 2016. A groundbreaking event to kick off the work is being planned for mid-summer.


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