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California Contractors Remain Cautiously Optimistic in 2011

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That big gain is attributable to the firm's diverse mix of projects, says Colin Terras, regional vice president, Denver. Besides transportation and higher education, PCL is engaged in environmental work, such as the San Jacinto Regional Water Reclamation Facility and the Tesla Water Treatment Facility in Tracy. It also is active in other sectors, with projects such as the YWCA Greater Los Angeles Job Corps urban campus and the Bob Hope Patriotic Hall renovation for the County of Los Angeles.

Terras says another factor in PCL's success in California is its focus on green construction, which include such projects as the Treepeople Center for Community Forestry in Los Angeles, which earned a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum rating; PCL's own new industrial division office in Bakersfield, awarded LEED Gold; and the UC Irvine student center expansion, which also received LEED Gold.

The company has 13 other California projects whose LEED certification is pending, including California State University, Fullerton student housing; Vasquez Rocks Interpretive Museum in Agua Dolce; a City of Temecula parking garage; and the San Diego Fish and Wildlife complex.

Turner Construction, which again is ENR California's top-ranked contractor, broke ground on several high-profile transportation projects last year, including the $4.2-billion Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco, for which it is construction manager.

In education, Turner started two more projects for the Los Angeles Unified School District. In health care, it continues to work on an ongoing $400-million seismic retrofit at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda.

Funded in large part by the 2009 economic stimulus statute, the Transbay Transit Center project is estimated to create 48,000 jobs in the first construction phase. Scheduled for completion in 2017, the terminal replaces the original structure, which was built in 1939.

The new 1.3-million-sq-ft facility is designed to serve 45 million passengers annually. The planned California High-Speed Rail line is scheduled to begin and end at the terminal.

Joint ventures also are getting more attention from contractors because of interest in sharing risk. Besides its joint venture on the San Diego airport project, Turner is teaming with DPR Construction on a new $150-million hospital for Universal Health Services in Temecula, which broke ground in June.

“We will joint venture in markets where it becomes a value-added proposition and makes a better team for the particular project,” says Turner's Bach.

He adds, “In the case of DPR, we were familiar with them as long-time competitors, plus one of our former general managers is now with the firm. And with PCL and the huge San Diego Airport project, it just made a whole lot of sense.”

McCarthy, which maintained its No. 2 spot in the ranking this year, has entered the joint-venture marketplace in a big way, linking up with Clark Construction Group. The companies are partners on two major health-care projects: a $512-million prison hospital in Stockton and a $394-million hospital at the Marine Corps' Camp Pendleton, near Oceanside.

Large projects also mean big employment opportunities. McCarthy says its Stockton prison hospital job could generate 5,500 temporary jobs and have as many as 1,700 construction workers on site at one time.

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