A project 10 years in the making will finally get underway as the Turlock City Council awarded contracts this week for the construction of the Fulkerth Road/HWY 99 interchange improvements.
The Council voted 3-1 — with Council member Amy Bublak dissenting and Vice Mayor Matthew Jacob absent —to award three contracts for engineering services, construction and construction management for the project that will see the relocation of the southbound on and off ramps, widening of the undercrossing, new curbs, gutter and sidewalks, improvements to the surface of Fulkerth Road and the installation of traffic signals on both northbound and southbound on and off ramps.
Agee Construction of Clovis was awarded $11.2 million for the construction contract; Omni Means Ltd. of Roseville was awarded $232, 610 for engineering services; and NV5 of Manteca was awarded $1.2 million for construction management services. The total cost of the project is estimated at $14 million.
The original estimated cost of the project was $9.4 million, however, the lowest bid came in at $11.2 million. Interim Development Services Director and City Engineer Nathan Bray said the increased estimate could be attributed to rising costs of construction, inflation, the lack of available contractors to perform the work and the accelerated construction schedule.
The project will be paid for with $5.5 million allocated to the City for specifically improvements to the Fulkerth Road interchange from Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Account and Program. The remaining funding will come from the Capital Facilities Fee fund, which is developer fees paid to the City for projects related to growth.
Mayor Gary Soiseth — who advocated for the City of Turlock receiving SB1 funds for the Fulkerth interchange to the Stanislaus Council of Governments — was glad to see the start of this project.
“After 21 years of discussions, I’m glad we now have the funding to break ground on this interchange. Without the nearly $6 million from SB1, we wouldn’t be able to break ground on the $12 million project. When it’s complete in a year, we will be able to meet our full economic potential in the Turlock Regional Industrial Park and we will provide a safe, efficient interchange for motorists,” said Soiseth.
Council member Bill DeHart also expressed his support of awarding the contracts, saying: “We have won some hard-fought battles and to win a decision on a statewide/countywide competition is no small victory. We have the funding, we have a contractor, we have a construction supervisor, we have the support of our county and state and now the opportunity to execute an upgrade to accessing SR 99 for the businesses in our industrial area and for all our constituents. I could not be happier or prouder. It's important that we don’t delay this project another day.”
While the awarding of the contracts was approved by Soiseth, DeHart and Esquer, Council member Bublak objected to the rushed timing of the Council vote.
“I appreciate that we have money that we want to use and we want to get this done. I sincerely can’t stand the special meeting concept and the bravado, but I appreciate at this point we’re stuck with what we have. I prefer that this not become the norm…I just want to be able to be transparent with the public and tell them what we have…It just feels like we are forced into a spot that we shouldn’t have to be in,” said Bublak.
She also voiced concerns about having the Fulkerth interchange closed at the same time as West Main Street is closed for reconstruction.
Bray said that the current ramps will remain open while the new ramps are being built, however, there would be a seven-day period when the ramps would be completely closed. There could also be traffic delays when crews resurface parts of Fulkerth Road.
Bray said the West Main/Hwy 99 interchange and West Main Street from the highway to South Avenue would be open by the time the Fulkerth/99 ramps would need to be closed.
Work on the Fulkerth Road/Hwy 99 interchange project is slated to begin at the end of the month. It is expected to be completed in fall 2019.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the project will be held at 11 a.m. Sept. 17 at the Turlock Auto Plaza, 1600 Auto Mall Dr.