As the Middlefield Road Improvement Project nears a potential start date, the county and its selected contractor are struggling to locate adequate space to store large equipment, turning to the North Fair Oaks Community Council for advice.

“We need to be creative because if they’re spending all their time delivering materials to the site you’re losing a lot of productivity and we knew this would be difficult,” Ann Stillman said, the deputy director of Public Works’ Engineering and Resource Protection Division during a North Fair Oaks Community Council meeting Thursday, March 25.

Graniterock, a Bay Area raw material and construction company, won the project bid by proposing to complete the major road improvements with just more than $19 million. Slated to potentially begin constitution in mid to late April, the total project is expected to take 180 working days to complete.

Stillman said the team is still working out project details and hasn’t been issued a notice to proceed. Once the notice is granted, the company will have 10 days to begin work.

But without a nearby location to store equipment the contractors will face long commute times trucking items in and out. Stillman also noted the weather and wet winter months could cause further project delays.

“They’re recognizing that it’s hard to find a place to put material and stage things,” said Stillman. “There’s a lot to consider.”

Councilman Everardo Rodriguez suggested land over the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System pipelines. Having thought of also using the land, Stillman said the city and county of San Francisco is highly protective of the property and unlikely to permit its use for storage.

Rodriguez also suggested using industrial side streets for storage which he noted may require renting. Stillman said the contractor would probably be open to renting space and added that the department has also considered staging equipment in a nearby church parking lot.

Initially, the contractor will begin with the underground trenching work, Stillman said. The “train of work” will require large equipment to be stored close to the site, including machinery that will sit in parking stalls.

The project aims to complete three tasks along a 2,900-foot-long section of Middlefield Road between Douglas and Sixth avenues. With the visible street improvements, the project will also shift overhead utilities underground and will replace existing sewer line systems.

From Pacifica to Fifth avenues, the road will be reconfigured from four lanes to three with one lane going either direction and a center left turn lane. New 6.5-foot-wide bike lanes would parallel the northbound and southbound lanes that will eventually be painted green.

Widened sidewalks will also feature street lights, benches, bike racks, landscaping, street art, trash bins and public space. Most crosswalks will have bulbouts to shorten street crossing and walkways will either be made of standard paving or mosaic tiles and concrete paving.

Concerned for public transportation during construction, business effects and signs, Councilwoman Linda Lopez requested the council review an updated Mitigated Negative Declaration which outlines how various construction impacts will be addressed.

Deputy County Manager Justin Mates said the county has also been distributing a survey to businesses along Middlefield to better understand current needs, noting the original negative declaration was prepared before the pandemic. Mates offered to present more detail on business needs at the council’s next meeting.

Stillman also noted a formal project start date is largely contingent on when the contractor presents thorough details about how the project will be approached, though she added midcourse corrections could occur.

“It’s a big project,” Stillman said. “There’s a lot of work and we really can’t issue them to go and start until we know a little more about the details.”

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