CHP plans in limbo after developer backs out
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Jul 04, 2013 | 4748 views | 1 1 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Plans to construct a new Pescadero Avenue office for the Tracy-area California Highway Patrol are on hold indefinitely, following the withdrawal of the project developer because of unstable soil at the site.

The developer, Pony Up Tracy, which was under state contract for about a year, asked in late April to “terminate the agreement,” according to Eric Lamoureux, spokesman for the California Department of General Services, which oversees the state’s real estate transactions.

Although the developer’s withdrawal delays the project, Lamoureux said he expects Tracy to eventually get a new CHP office to replace the outdated headquarters at 385 Grant Line Road.

“At this point we’re working to get another developer on board,” he said. “The sooner we get this project back on track, the happier we’ll be.”

Lamoureux said Pony Up Tracy was “not familiar with all of the requirements of the project agreement and wasn’t able to continue.”

“The major issue that the developer addressed when they asked to terminate the contract with the state was the apparent site and soil conditions that they had not anticipated,” Lamoureux said.

He said the land was found to be prone to liquefaction.

Soil liquefaction is a phenomenon in which soil that is saturated with water acts more like a thick liquid than a solid in response to applied stress — such as an earthquake.

“Ultimately, these issues, coupled with certain elements of the project not being bid properly in the first place, left the developer to determine that is was not economically feasible to proceed with the project,” Lamoureux said.

Plans are under way to put the project back out to bid, but it will be several weeks before the state can enter into a developer contract, he said.

Construction was slated to begin in the first week of May, and Tracy CHP officials found out it was canceled in the final week of April, according Tracy commander Lt. Jeff James.

“We’re very disappointed,” James said. “We were literally five days from breaking ground.”

The new office was supposed to be constructed on 4.7 acres of land on the southern side of Pescadero Avenue, about 2,100 feet east of MacArthur Drive.

An automotive service building, fueling station, storage buildings, carports with solar panels and onsite parking were included in the plans.

According to James, the CHP needs a new Tracy office so it can expand services for commercial vehicles and increase the number of officers on staff.

The existing office was built more than 30 years ago as a substation for 12 employees. Now with 34 employees, the department has run out of room to grow, he said.

James said it’s important for the CHP to grow at the same pace as the city’s population. CHP officers patrol the area’s freeways and highways, enforcing all laws, particularly traffic related.

Multiple attempts by the Tracy Press to contact officials of Pony Up Tracy were unsuccessful.

A Fresno office for the company was listed online, but the phone number was no longer in service. An official of the city of Fresno business license office had no records of such a business.

Tracy Assistant City Planner Kimberly Matlock said calls to the contact person for the project, Chris Cammack, were not returned as of Wednesday, July 3.

• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or drizzo@tracypress.com.
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