SAN FRANCISCO—With yesterday’s signing by the Governor of the budget for fiscal year 2013–2014, the new courthouse for downtown San Diego, the state’s largest court construction project, received final approval to proceed to construction. The Budget Act included the appropriation for construction and authorized a construction budget of $516 million. The Department of Finance then approved the project to proceed to bidding by construction manager at risk Rudolph and Sletten, who expects to begin subcontractor bidding in mid-July. The lease-revenue bond sale that will finance the project’s construction is expected in the fall.
The San Diego courthouse project will be the first court construction project managed by the Administrative Office of the Courts to utilize a project labor agreement (PLA). Because any delay on a project of this size can be costly, the AOC, working closely with the Court Facilities Advisory Committee, requested that the contractor enter into a PLA with the State Building Construction and Trades Council.
Justice Brad Hill, chair of the Court Facilities Advisory Committee, noted that the committee will evaluate the use of PLAs in court construction projects. “We will be examining very closely whether the PLA approach is as advantageous as proponents claim,” Justice Hill said. He cited the example of the San Diego Convention Center expansion project, which will use a PLA, and noted that the federal government also encourages use of PLAs on their large-scale construction projects.
Justice Hill said the Court Facilities Advisory Committee will hold a public meeting to air all views on the use of PLAs when the San Diego courthouse project approaches completion. “With what we glean from this first experience with PLAs, we will be better able to assess how we should proceed in the future,” he said.
The San Diego PLA will apply to most, but not all, of the bid packages—those smaller than $125,000 at all bid tiers will be exempt. Additionally, the PLA provides that the project has a built-in local participation goal of 30 percent for San Diego County trades. Rudolph and Sletten has been conducting outreach in the construction community to make all qualified subcontractors aware of this significant business opportunity. The project is expected to create hundreds of jobs during the two and a half years required for construction.
The new 71-courtroom San Diego Courthouse is badly needed because of serious seismic and security issues and other significant functional problems in the old downtown courthouse. Groundbreaking is scheduled for December 2013, and the Superior Court of San Diego County is scheduled to occupy the building by mid-2016. After that, the downtown Hall of Justice will also undergo remodeling as a part of the overall project.