US Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
Region Nine
California Division
980 Ninth Street, Suite 400
Sacramento, CA 95814-2724

November 17, 1995

San Mateo County Board of Supervisors
County Government Center
Redwood City, CA 94036

Dear Supervisors:


This response to your letter of October 18, 1995, regarding the consultant study of a tunnel as part of the reevaluation process for the Devil's Slide Bypass Project, has been jointly prepared by Caltrans and the FHWA. This study will provide an independent source of information for future project decisions. Upon completion of the consultant tunnel study, Caltrans and the FHWA will consider the findings of the study and determine the appropriateness of a tunnel as a reasonable and prudent alternative to the Bypass, and whether further engineering and environmental studies should be pursued.

Caltrans and FHWA have jointly prepared a draft Request for Proposals (RFP) which specifies that the consultant will provide alignments for alternative tunnels, a Geotechnical Design Report and tunnel designs based on field explorations made by consultant, cost estimates for construction and maintenance, time estimates for construction, and any materials necessary for public presentation. When that RFP is approved, a copy will be provided to the County.

Caltrans and the FHWA have developed interior cross-sections for single and double-bore tunnels. These were prepared in conformance with current standards and design practice and address our mutual concerns for operational and maintenance safety. These cross-sections will be used as the basis of study and will not be developed by the consultant as you suggest in Item 1.b of your proposal.

We believe that Caltrans and the FHWA have sufficient knowledge of project permitting requirements to discuss the process and time necessary for a Devil's Slide project. We would only expect the consultant to provide any requirements which might be unique to a tunnel project. (re: Item 1.d.)

Although we support the concept of design-build contracts, Caltrans is currently prohibited by State law from entering into such contracts. Amending the law takes time and this option may not be available for the tunnel study. (re: Item 1.e.)

The inclusion of a non-Caltrans member on the consultant selection panel, as you suggested, is being reviewed for conformance with statutory requirements. It may be that non-Caltrans members may have to serve in an advisory capacity, as a public contracting agency may not be permitted to delegate the selection of a qualified engineering firm to other persons or entities. Caltrans will notify you as soon as they reach on conclusion on this issue.

We agree that recent significant experience in highway tunnel design work must be a primary asset for competing consultants, and necessary for interview consideration. California registration as a professional engineer must also be a requirement for the consultant project manager. Consultant contractors currently involved in any litigation involving services for the Devil's Slide Bypass Project or who may have offered similar services to Caltrans, The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, or the cities of Half Moon Bay or Pacifica shall not participate in the tunnel study. If a decision is made to proceed with further studies of a tunnel option, the selected consultant contractor for this study cannot bid on either the final design or construction contacts. (re: Item 3.c.)

The establishment of a committee (re: Item 4) is acceptable. Together with Caltrans, meetings will be scheduled with the committee at the major milestones of the study to provide progress reports and receive the comments of the committee. The tunnel study consultant will be available for these meetings to assist us in providing current information. However, in view of the pending lawsuits between the Sierra Club and the FHWA/Caltrans we need to protect the confidentiality of the study and the deliberative process. When the committee is established we will need to develop guidelines to address this concern.


Fred J. Hempel
Division Administrator