County Names Contractor Which Will Start $66 Million Sediment Removal Project at Devil’s Gate Dam This Month

Published : Wednesday, October 10, 2018 | 4:46 AM

The Griffith Company's projects, some seen above, extend across Southern California and beyond, and range in value between $100,000 and $150 million. The company says that in its 100-year-plus history it has "contracted with virtually every department and city" in Los Angeles County.

A Brea-based construction contractor will carry out a $66 million, four-year project to truck tons of sediment from the Devil’s Gate Dam slated to begin later this month.

Los Angeles County Public Works awarded the contract to the Griffith Company late last month, Public Works spokesman Kerjon Lee said. The work involves digging up and hauling away 1.7 million cubic yards of sediment from the reservoir behind the 98-year-old dam in order to reduce flooding risk to nearby neighborhoods and restore about 70 acres of natural habitat.

Related Story:  Los Angeles County Says Massive Sediment Removal Project is About to Begin in Devil’s Gate Reservoir

The bidding process included seven companies, Lee said. Griffith’s bid was the lowest, while the highest bid for the project was $99 million.

“To ensure successful project delivery, each contractor bid was required to demonstrate completion of three major earth moving projects within the last 20 years — each with a contract value of at least $10 million,” Lee said.

While the process is a large one and will involve many truck trips, County officials will be working alongside Griffith to make the work is unobtrusive as possible, he said.

“Public Works has assigned a highly-skilled community liaison/project manager to the project to ensure that the work is performed in partnership with the community and with respect for the natural resources within the Hahamongna Watershed,” Lee said.

The agency is has launched a public outreach campaign to inform the community about what’s going on and foster dialogue, he added.

“We had a team out on the reservoir on Saturday to talk to residents and weekend hikers about the construction schedule,” Lee said. “We met with about 150 people and had great exchanges. This is part of our ongoing outreach strategy before and during construction.”

Griffith Company is well over 100 years old and has worked with the County since the early-1900s, according to the company’s Vice President of Business Development Dan McGrew.

“We’re excited to work again with the County of Los Angeles,” he said.

Not everyone is thrilled about the project. Environmental concerns have been raised, and a lawsuit brought a prior version of the project aiming to remove 2.4 million cubic yards of sediment from the reservoir to a halt last year.

The County approved the scaled-down version of the project late last year. The reduction in size satisfied some critics, such as Pasadena Mayor Tornek, who embraced the project following the change. But the Arroyo Seco Foundation, which filed the lawsuit, is still not on board with the plan.

Mitchell Tsai, an attorney representing the foundation, said the revised plan still raises alarms.

“After the court ordered the County to redo its environmental impact report, the County opted to downsize on the project by about a third from 2.4 million cubic yards to 1.7 million cubic yards,” he said. “However, the County has opted to still remove the same amount of overall habitat from the project. And so while they shortened the duration of the project, our clients are still somewhat disappointed by the fact that the County is still removing the same amount of critical wetlands that they plan to before.”

But with work about to get underway, Tsai said the Arroyo Seco Foundation hopes the contractor will be mindful of the environmental mitigation measures set forth for the sediment removal project. “And we certainly hope that they will be vigilant in following those mitigation measures and those standards that have been imposed for this project.”

The unknown number of trucks that will be coming in and out of the area are a major worry, Arroyo Seco Foundation Executive Director Tim Brick said.

“The County of Los Angeles has the worst air in the United States… so I hope that the trucking firm will purchase some clean air vehicles so that we won’t have so much pollution in our communities for the next five years,” he said.

“I hope they do a great job and really protect the environment, but I’m really skeptical of the county’s plans,” Brick said. “I’m very skeptical that the county’s plan will adequately protect the very rare natural resources that are in the Hahamongna area, but I certainly hope that they abide by all of the requirements that have been put on by the regulatory agencies and by the environmental laws.”

McGrew said the company would strive to reduce the work’s impact to both the environment and neighbors.

“We’ll be a good partner for both the County and for the residence in and around the project. We understand that there’s going to be a big trucking component to this and it will impact somewhat the local communities, and we’ll do our best working with the County to minimize those impacts as best as possible.”

County officials said after initial phases that including re-grading, removal of invasive plant species, and construction of access roads to allow trucks to keep off neighborhood streets, actual sediment removal is scheduled to begin in April.