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Contractor Named for Simi Freeway Repairs

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Caltrans on Thursday tapped a San Diego-based construction company to complete the rebuilding of the earthquake-damaged Simi Valley Freeway within four months, a project that should restore the roadway to pre-quake conditions.

Under the terms of the $9.6-million contract, F. C. I. Constructors has 110 days to finish rebuilding the westbound side of the bridges at San Fernando Mission Boulevard and Bull Creek, which were weakened considerably by the Northridge temblor. Work will be conducted 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Caltrans spokeswoman Pat Reid said.

But in a departure from recent practice, Caltrans will award no bonus if work is completed early, though penalties for missing the deadline will still apply. The state transportation agency has come under fire for the handsome incentives it has offered contractors to finish quake-related projects ahead of schedule, including a $50,000-a-day bonus a Fontana firm can collect if it completes work on the eastbound Simi Valley Freeway before May 22.

F. C. I. President Ken Dunford said his company would have preferred a similar incentive program in the contract awarded Thursday. But he said he was pleased nonetheless to have won the contract, adding, “we agreed to the terms before we submitted the bid.”

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The company will take over and begin restructuring the western half of the damaged spans as soon as the eastbound phase is complete. Officials say those repairs, which cost $9.7 million, might be finished by Thursday, three days before the given deadline.

Caltrans split the repair work into two parts to allow drivers to continue using part of the Simi Valley Freeway, the main artery through the northern San Fernando Valley. During this first phase of reconstruction, eastbound motorists have been rerouted onto lanes previously reserved for westbound traffic, reducing the total number of lanes available from eight to six.

When repairs begin on the westbound side of the crumbled bridges--which sagged nearly four feet in some spots after the earthquake--officials will shift traffic to the eastbound side of the roadway.

If construction holds to schedule, the entire freeway should be open by the beginning of September, bringing the 528-mile freeway system in Los Angeles County nearly back to pre-quake strength.

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Earlier this week, state officials announced that the Golden State Freeway at Gavin Canyon will reopen next week, earning a hefty $4.5-million bonus for contractors who finished three weeks ahead of schedule. In April, the collapsed Santa Monica Freeway was reopened two months earlier than expected, which netted an extra $15 million for contractor C. C. Myers Inc.


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