• WTS Sacramento

Recap - June 2021 Lunch Program

On June 21st, 2021, WTS Sacramento hosted a virtual lunch program featuring two of the highest priority projects for the City of Grove, the Railroad Street Improvements Project and the Old Town Plaza Project. WTS Sacramento welcomed Kristin Parsons, Rachael Brown, and Stephany Carlson from the City of Elk Grove, Jacqueline Lockhart from Dokken Engineering, and Talina Barajas-Chen from UNICO Engineering to present on the two projects.

Kristin Parsons, a Senior Civil Engineer at the City of Elk Grove, led the public outreach effort for both the Railroad Street Improvements and the Old Town Plaza projects which were combined for bidding purposes. The City of Elk Grove wanted to create a welcoming space that was accessible to multiple transportation modes and featured an improved street design that could keep up with a growing Elk Grove. The public outreach effort was conducted through public meetings, Facebook live streams, online feedback solicitation, mailers, and site walk-throughs. Parsons remarked on the amazing opportunity to have worked with so many professional women, in a high-achieving team environment, on two high-profile projects with tight deadlines.

Rachael Brown, the Economic Development Manager for the City of Elk Grove, acted as the liaison for Elk Grove Economic Development on behalf of the projects. Rachel noticed that private owners were willing to invest money in historic renovations and bring new interest to existing downtown locations in the renovation process. In 2017, Elk Grove City Council approved purchase of 9676 Railroad Street to help develop the building adjacent to the Railroad Street Improvements project. Dust Bowl Brewing will be occupying 9676 Railroad Street later in 2021.

Jacqueline Lockhart, a design engineer at Dokken Engineering, described the civil engineering facets of the two projects. The existing conditions for the Railroad Street Improvement project consisted of a one-lane road serving traffic in both directions, with significant overhead and underground utilities, and buildings close to the edge of the street. The goal of the Railroad Street Improvements project was to construct a two-lane road with Class III bike lanes, on-street parking, and two adjacent parking areas. The intention was to maximize parking to support existing businesses as well as new developments along Railroad Street.

Significant utilities in the project vicinity presented a challenge. The existing utilities included several water mains along Railroad Street, overhead utilities owned by Frontier and Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), gas lines, and sewer lines. Furthermore, the project needed to add additional water and sewer lines as well as underground all existing overhead utilities. The project team selected a joint trench to use outside of the right-of-way to contain gas, sewer, and water lines. No permits were required to install a new storm drain since the majority of the work was done aerially and used an existing culvert. Filterra inlets, a stormwater biofiltration system, were employed to maintain water quality. Water quality basins were also built, and trash capture devices were used in high traffic areas to maintain water quality. Archaeologists at Dokken Engineering used metal detectors to excavate de-commissioned railroads tracks in the project area. The railroad tracks were repurposed as an aesthetic feature for both projects and served as a reminder of the historic railroad beginnings of Elk Grove.


Stephany Carlson described the Old Town Plaza project stakeholders, aesthetic components, bidding process. The aesthetic treatments were based on feedback provided by various public and private stakeholders. Stakeholders included SMUD, Elk Grove Water District, Building & Fire Departments, the City’s Art Commission, the Elk Grove Disability Advisory Committee, City maintenance and operating staff, and local residents and businesses. Features such as site lighting, seat walls, wide sidewalks, and an open plaza were added to the Old Town Plaza site to support the goal of maintaining a flexible, open community gathering space. A significant aesthetic feature was the barn quilt serving as the formal entry point for the plaza. The total project cost was $12 million for both Railroad Street Improvements and Old Town Plaza projects. Early in the planning process, it was decided to lump both projects together to accelerate the Old Town Plaza project and reduce the strain on residents and business owners operating in the project vicinity.

Talina Barajas-Chen, a resident engineer at UNICO Engineering, covered the construction process of the two projects. Talina discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic occurring at the same time as construction meant that the construction team had to give additional consideration to dust control, noise, and construction vibrations due to nearby residents’ remote working and learning situations. Early construction start times were limited to minimize disturbances. A monthly recap newsletter of completed and upcoming construction events was distributed to residents and businesses. Another effect of the pandemic was cement shortages for both projects, so the contractor used pre-approved mix designs from several suppliers to avoid schedule lag. A key aspect of the project was to ensure that all the elements shown on the plan sets of both projects were properly coordinated to maintain consistency. This was especially evident in constructing the joint utility trench, for which the visible components (such as pull boxes and manhole covers) were placed with extreme care to not impact the architects’ vision for pedestrian treatments. The Railroad Street project is a pilot project for CoolSeal, a new paving technique which uses reflective features to scatter light and lower the temperature of the surrounding area. The projects were successful in meeting strict deadlines through establishing constant site access.

The City of Elk Grove is thrilled for the public to enjoy the benefits of the Railroad Street Improvements Project and the Old Town Plaza Project!


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