I-15/Joint Port of Entry Caltrans EA 36850

The Department of Transportation (DOT), the California Highway Patrol (CHP), California Department of Food and Agriculture  (CDFA), and the California Department of General Services (CDGS) agreed to construct a Joint Point of Entry (JPOE) project at Mountain Pass to inspect passenger and commercial vehicles before they venture further into the State causing possible damage to our roads and agriculture.  This project involves the construction of a commercial vehicle enforcement facility (CVEF) for the CHP and an agricultural inspection facility (AIF) for CDFA.  The proposed AIF will replace the existing facility at Yermo.

For the Highway Patrol portion, the California Transportation Commission (CTC) identified the management and enforcement of overweight trucks as one of the significant transportation issues facing California.  Since overweight trucks damage the existing infrastructure, truck size and weight enforcement is critical to preventing excessive deterioration of our highways and bridges.  Currently, trucks entering California on Interstate 15 (I-15) travel about 171 miles (275 km) before they encounter the first inspection facility at Cajon Pass.  Construction of the CVEF at Mountain Pass should improve homeland security and provide the opportunity for the Department of Motor Vehicles, State Board of Equalization, and the Air Resources Board to enforce regulations and laws governing movement of trucks on State highways.

Southstar staff has managed this project since 2005, including PS&E, and all RW activities associated with the BLM and utilities.  BLM provided clearance in 2011, and the project is currently waiting on the CDFA funding via a Bond vote, to begin construction of the project.  This project is estimated to cost approximately $80 million total.  Issues affecting delivery:

Permits – Four separate permits were required to RTL this project: 401, 404, 1602, and 2081.  All required extension dealings and negotiations with CDFG, RWQCB, BLM, and USFWS.
Contract for Delivery (RTL) – RTL for this project was at about 4:00pm on June 30, 2011 after lengthy discussions and negotiations with HQOE.  The milestone was made after the permits were all obtained (see above), R/W Cert occurred one week prior, Environmental Certification occurred, and all design-related issues were resolved.  Weekly PDT meetings were held for the last 6 months to ensure the milestone was made.
Coordination with CDFA and lease-revenue bond funding – The AIS and 50% of the transportation costs are to be funded by the CDFA using bonds.  The DOF has a completely different set of milestones prior to allowing a project to be nominated for a bond sale.  Close coordination was required among the DOF, CDFA, DGS, and Caltrans to maximize the possibility of obtaining funding
Federal Funds – The Southstar representative at the time, Jason Bennecke, worked and negotiated closely with FHWA to ensure that $28.1 million of SHOPP funds used for construction capital are eligible for reimbursement from FHWA.  He also worked hard to extend a $7.3 million FIN for 3 years, which prevented the loss of this money as repayment back to FHWA.
BLM Land – Using the Recreation and Public Purposes Act, the 133 acres of land for the JPOE project was obtained by the State of California from the BLM (U.S. Government).  Special attention was given by the Southstar representative to BLM and close coordination occurred among Caltrans Environmental staff, R/W Engineering, R/W, and the BLM to ensure this process was a success.

Caltrans District 8
Jamal Elsaleh, PE, PMP