I-15/Cal Oaks Interchange Caltrans EA 0A490

The City of Murrieta proposed the reconstruction of the existing California Oaks I/C on I-15.  The City acted as the lead agency for the project, which obtained the PA/ED milestone in 2007.  The designated Project Manager, Southstar Vice President Jason Bennecke, has worked with this project from the start of the PS&E phase in July 2008 to the present completion of the construction phase.

The purpose of this nearly $30 million project is to accommodate increased traffic, reduce traffic congestion, improve traffic safety, improve reliability of goods movement, and reduce people/goods movement conflicts.  Construction began in February 2011 and is expected to be completed by Summer 2012.

A Categorical Exemption/Categorical Exclusion (CE/CE) was completed 10/04/07. The San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board (SDRWQCB) demanded 100% treatment of storm water run-off in exchange for the future issuance of a 401 permit.  Stakeholders include the California Highway Patrol (CHP), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC), US Fish & Wildlife (USF&W), California Fish and Game (F&G), City of Murrieta, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), SDRWQCB.

Sample issues effecting the project included:

CEQA – The City of Murrieta acted as lead agency for CEQA, which caused conflict internally at Caltrans due to the fact that typically Caltrans acts as the lead agency for both CEQA and NEPA processes.
Profile Bust – During 95% PS&E it was discovered that the I-15 centerline alignment and profile had not been properly cleared by Caltrans Surveys and as such, there was an approximate 1ft vertical bust in the profile.  Southstar worked closely with all parties involved to come to a resolution as quickly as possible.
Federal funds – Initially, the project was programmed with local funds.  Once PS&E certification was obtained, Caltrans and the City were notified by RCTC that federalized Regional Improvement Program (RIP) funds were available to fully fund the construction capital portion of work.  Southstar staff worked closely with the City, RCTC and Caltrans HQ Federal Resources to get the Request for Authorization (RFA) submitted and approved as quickly as possible.  The E-76 was issued shortly thereafter by FHWA.
Landscaping Enhancement – Due to funding restraints, the landscaping portion of this project had been severely downscoped.  Fortunately, the low bid was nearly $10 million less than the engineer’s estimate.  Southstar worked closely with Federal Resources, the City, Caltrans landscaping and design oversight to create a separate PS&E for the landscaping enhancement work that is to be done.  A competitive bidding environment is required for this Contract Change Order (CCO) work to be able to utilize federal funds, but the landscape architect’s estimate is about $2 million.

Project Owner
Caltrans District 8
Point of Contact Name
Jamal Elsaleh