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PLA-Okay: Deal Approved for Major CA Water Project, Early Goals Being Met on Kings New Stadium

It's easy to see why officials moved to build new infrastructure

It’s easy to see why officials moved to build new infrastructure

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A major Interlake Tunnel Project was given the green light in California last month after the Monterey County Board of Supervisors voted in favor of the estimated $63 million construction.  The approval was linked to Assembly Bill 155 (AB 155) which requires a “design-build” method as opposed to the traditional “design-bid-build” method. The deal also features a worker- and community-supportive Project Labor Agreement (PLA). 

Other recent major infrastructure projects in the state, such as the new San Francisco 49ers stadium and the BART train extension, have used the “design-build” approach. It is one way to mitigate the complexities that come with massive undertakings.  The new Interlake Tunnel Project will help bring billions of gallons of water to thirsty Monterey County, according to The Californian:

The Interlake Tunnel Project is designed to move water, which ordinarily would spill from Lake Nacimiento, over to Lake San Antonio, which has unused storage capacity of roughly 60,000 acre feet, or 19.6 billion gallons. The project would pay huge dividends in that it would increase flood protection for downstream growers, provide more water to recharge groundwater aquifers, which both agriculture and cities use exclusively, and make available more water for environmental sustainability.

Assemblyman Luis Alejo, author of AB 155, was on hand at the Board of Supervisors meeting.  He told The Californian that, “time was of the essence for the project,” and that the PLA would help prevent work stoppages and would govern wages and benefits paid to workers on the project.  

“This is an infrastructure project that makes a lot of sense – it maximizes taxpayers’ money and is great for our local economy.  AB 155 provides the opportunity for expedited construction in the wake of the California’s drought because low reservoir levels means less obstacles.”

Project Labor Agreements often include local and minority hiring mandates that help regional economies ensure the wages earned in the region are kept within the region.  The PLA that governs construction of the new Sacramento Kings arena boasts ambitious hiring goals, many of which have already been met in the early stages:

Sacramento City Council Tuesday night found 81 percent of the businesses that won contracts so far are based locally. That’s better than the 60 percent promised in a project labor agreement announced by the city, team and lead contractor Turner Construction last summer.

The team is falling slightly short on a commitment in the agreement to give 20 percent of the contracts to small firms, with 17 percent awarded to such firms. But the team is meeting a goal of giving 15 percent of contracts to firms that were both local and small, with 17 percent qualifying.

Labor officials expect all of the goals to be met by project’s end, and suggest that the actual construction phase will be where the real gains in apprentices and local workers will be made. The early stages of the project are more firm-based.

Of the apprentices already working on the project, 79 percent have been local, above the pledge of 70 percent.  The project is also meeting its pledges of hiring workers of “targeted backgrounds,” such as veterans, new workers and youth who’ve grown out of foster programs.  So far 12 apprentices have come from “high-priority zip codes,” a pace that would see 70 such apprentices by constructions completion in the Fall of 2016.  Of these apprentices from targeted backgrounds 27 have gone on to find other work in the region.  

More background on the coming Interlake Tunnel Project can be found via the Monterey County Water Resources Agency.


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