Supervisors approve plans, bid authorization, contractor list for French Valley Integrated Mitigation Project

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Four transportation projects in southwest Riverside County require off-site mitigation, and the county will be undertaking an Integrated Mitigation Project in French Valley. A 5-0 Riverside County Board of Supervisors vote, Tuesday, April 7, approved the plans and specifications, a list of prequalified contractors and the advertisement for bid to construct the mitigation measures.

The supervisors’ action also included a finding that the installation of a waterline southwest of Briggs Road and Golden Jay Lane is categorically exempt from California Environmental Quality Act review, approved two addenda in the prequalification documents and set a bid receipt deadline and bid opening of 2 p.m. Tuesday, April 28.

The off-site mitigation complies with the permit requirements of the projects for the widening of the Winchester Road portion of state Route 79, the interchange improvements at Interstate 15 and Clinton Keith Road, the Clinton Keith Road extension and the state Route 371 shoulder widening. The county’s Transportation Department will implement the Integrated Mitigation Project while the estimated $1,273,498 cost will be funded by Measure A sales tax revenue and by developer-supplied improvement funds with no general fund money being used.

The Integrated Mitigation Project will improve existing conditions by decreasing erosion, increasing soil moisture retention, removing non-native plants and increasing native vegetation which will aid dependent species along the watershed. Functional improvements will enhance water quality in the watershed. The 74-acre mitigation site south of Scott Road and west of Briggs Road is owned by the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority, which is a joint powers agency consisting of the county and 18 incorporated cities. The Integrated Mitigation Project was authorized in October 2016, although the construction plans and specifications were revised.

On Dec. 10, the board of supervisors authorized the advertisement to solicit prequalified contractors. The contractors have a track record of experience in wetland and streambed restoration, ecosystem enhancement and riparian mitigation and also hold a C-27 landscaping contractor’s license. Two addenda were issued before the Jan. 15 deadline, and five prequalification applications were received. All five of those companies – Griffith Company, Hanford Applied Restoration and Conservation, Helix Environmental Planning, Natures Image and Pacific Restoration Group – were determined to be qualified and were accepted to bid for the project. Because all five contractors have been prequalified the selection will be based on the lowest responsive bid.

The contractor will construct a new stream channel and seasonal wetlands, enhance the streambed and preserve existing habitat. The base bid schedules call for the Briggs Road channel construction, Briggs Road landscaping and plant establishment along with irrigation, Clinton Keith Road restoration and enhancement and Clinton Keith Road plant establishment.

The waterline will be an extension of an existing one and will provide sufficient irrigation for the project. Because it is under a mile in length and within a public street, it is exempt from CEQA review, and as a minor alteration to an existing facility which involves negligible expansion of use, it is also exempt from CEQA review. The October 2016 approval of the Integrated Mitigation Project included a determination that no further CEQA review would be needed because the impacts had previously been fully analyzed and documented when the environmental impacts for the construction projects were reviewed.

The Integrated Mitigation Project work is expected to begin this summer and take approximately five months to complete. The project also includes a five-year monitoring and plant establishment maintenance period.

Joe Naiman can be reached by email at jnaiman@reedermedia.com.