Find out who is creating the next extension of the regional MAX system.
RhinoOne Geotechnical Engineering Consultants*
Rajiv Ali, founder of RhinoOne, owns this geotechnical engineering firm working on the light rail project.
From multi-use trails to urban streetscapes, Marianne Zarkin has over 20 years of landscape architecture experience in both the public and private sector.
The ability to provide jobs for his employees is one of the primary goals of Doug Phelps, owner of Freedom Precast.
Crane & Merseth
Gordon Merseth, Vice President of Crane & Merseth, is another project contractor based in Clackamas County.
Jacilyn Hayden, Kiewit
Jacilyn Hayden helps Kiewit ensure environmental quality is maintained during work on the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge.
At the peak of construction, Kiewit will have 100 employees and 30 subcontractors working on the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge.
LEEKA Architecture and Planning*
Neil Lee has been busy designing light rail platforms and utility buildings for the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project.
Northwest Shade Trees
Art Anderson, General Manager at Northwest Shade Trees and Clackamas County resident, with some of the trees being grown for the project.
Ross Island Sand & Gravel
Portland-based Ross Island Sand & Gravel will provide more than 20,000 cubic yards, or 40,000 tons, of concrete for the bridge.
Subcontracting on projects like Portland-Milwaukie is helping pave the way to the future for Triunity.
“Since I formed Donaldson Enterprises my goal has been to create and share opportunities for all minority and women owned businesses."
Apprentice Kambra Macdonald
Originally, Kambra Macdonald thought she would pursue a career in hospitality. That was before she got behind the wheel of a front loader.
Vijay Deodhar was able to double his staff at 3D InFusion thanks to project contracts.
Participating in TriMet's DBE program has helped Jose Figueroa build relationships with some of the region's largest contractors.
Clackamas County's Emerick Construction takes pride in its local roots and community work, making the firm a great fit for the project.
Cindy Halcumb, owner of KC Development, breaks new ground almost every day she goes to work.
Working as a subcontractor has enabled Karen Karlsson to add capacity in land use and planning areas.
Jason Patton, Malcolm Drilling
Jason Patton helps construct the foundations that will support major structures along the project alignment.
With experience gained on projects for TriMet and others, Ramos, Inc., now has the capacity to bid on large, complex construction projects.
Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Contractors
On the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project, TriMet continues its successful program to involve historically underutilized firms in its Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program, ensuring these contractors participate in the design and construction work for the region's next light rail line.
RhinoOne Geotechnical Engineering
Rajiv Ali founded and owns RhinoOne Geotechnical Engineering Consultants, a geotechnical engineering firm with Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) certification. The firm has partnered with construction and engineering contractor CH2M Hill to provide contract geotechnical engineering services for the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project’s West Segment.
“We provide personalized geotechnical engineering services based on each client’s specific need to create the most cost effective solution,” says Ali.
Rhino One’s work on the West Segment included all engineering and design management for approximately 1.25 miles of trackway and street improvements extending from the South Terminus of the Portland Mall to the west abutment of the new Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge in South Waterfront. RhinoOne also served as senior reviewer for CH2M’s staff for the design of signal/pole foundations along the entire alignment.
The project work has allowed Ali to grow RhinoOne. “Because of the contract we earned, we added another RhinoOne team member, moved into a bigger office and were able to grow our software library by acquiring several state-of-the-art software programs like Slide, Settle3G, LPile, Group, and MathCAD—all of which ultimately makes us more competitive as a small business,” says Ali.
RhinoOne’s professionalism and ability to accommodate the challenges of a large project impressed CH2M Hill’s Dave Dailer, a senior geotechnical engineer. “Their work was performed within the schedule and budget constraints of this fast-tracked project and the result was consistent, high quality deliverables. I would not hesitate to work with them in the future.”
Suzanne Donaldson’s firm, Donaldson Enterprises, was hired by project contractor CH2M HILL as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) outreach consultant for the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project . Thanks to the project contract, the firm was able to retain a staff member who would have been laid off due to a lack of work.
With over a decade of experience in public and private projects in the architectural, engineering and construction industries, Donaldson’s expertise in motivational speaking and mentoring was a perfect match for CH2M HILL’s sub-contracts with other DBE firms working on the project’s West Segment.
Donaldson’s work included outreach and networking coordination with those firms, monitoring apprenticeship utilization and assisting with community participation plans.
“I worked as a liaison between DBE firms and CH2M HILL—for example, if there were sensitive issues or perceived barriers, I would discuss and help to resolve them,” says Donaldson. “I also worked as a mentor to the DBE firms.”
As a proud member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, she is politically and culturally active, which has also guided her as a business owner. “Since I formed Donaldson Enterprises my goal has been to create and share opportunities for all minority and women owned businesses,” says Donaldson. “Because of my work on the project, I won a separate contract providing DBE Support Services directly for TriMet.”
As a result of their work on the project, Donaldson Enterprises developed a relationship with CH2M HILL that will continue when the project is complete. “Suzanne’s innovative approach to DBE coordination was key to the successful working relationship between CH2M HILL and our small business partners”, says John Willis, Vice President, NW Transportation Manager, CH2M HILL. “She built deep and sincere bonds with the small businesses in a way that we, as a large prime, could not have achieved.”
From multi-use trails to green streets, and local parks to urban streetscapes, Marianne Zarkin has over 20 years of landscape architecture experience in both the public and private sector. So, when she founded Marianne Zarkin Landscape Architects (MZLA) in 2006, she brought a broad range of project management, design and public involvement skills to the fledgling firm.
As a DBE-certified landscape architecture firm, MZLA was awarded contract work on the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project's West Segment Final Design in winter 2011, working as a sub-consultant to CH2M HILL for landscape architecture services. The full West Segment project includes all engineering and design management for approximately 1.25 miles of trackway and street improvements extending from the south terminus of the Portland Mall to the west abutment of the new Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge.
"With MZLA's involvement on the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project, we finally had the opportunity to show what we can do, which is to provide the full range of landscape architecture services in a competent and professional manner," says Zarkin.
Zarkin attributes MZLA's success on the project in part to collaborative weekly project team meetings with CH2M HILL. James McGrath, CH2M HILL Urban Design Task Lead, summed up Zarkin's involvement, noting, "She earned the trust of all the task leads and the client group and has become a preferred landscape architect for CH2M HILL's Portland Transportation business group."
MZLA's work approach on the project enabled the creation of unique landscape design solutions, including:
- an innovative vegetated trackway section for the station area
- a hybridized planting strip combining pervious pavements, tree wells and stormwater quality facilities
- and fully landscaped areas overlaid on geotechnically-sensitive areas of lightweight fill
With MZLA's experience on the light rail project and status as a DBE, they now compete for projects that they would not have been able to compete for previously. "This gives me legitimacy as a small business," Zarkin says. "Now I can say that I worked on the Portland-Milwaukie Light Transit Rail Transit Project, which is a recognizable project. The opportunities for me to work with larger consulting firms have increased. We also moved into a bigger office and added a part time staff member. It has been fantastic to be able to expand."
Apprentice Kambra Macdonald
Originally, Kambra Macdonald thought she would pursue a career in hospitality. That was before she got behind the wheel of a front loader. A customer service job at a rockery had her loading gravel, sand, stone and landscape materials onto palettes and into trucks—it changed her life.
"I love running equipment. It's empowering," explained Macdonald. Ultimately, she'd like to run a dozer on an excavation crew but she plans to learn every aspect of the construction industry first. A student at Northwest College of Construction, Macdonald started in the two-year laborers' program and then switched to the four-year operators' apprentice program.
Ideally most of Macdonald's time should be on-the-job-training but she got laid off at another company last October. She now works as an apprentice at S-2 Contractors, where she's learning about paving on the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project. "I couldn't find work, so it was great to get the call for this project," said Macdonald. "I had never done paving so it's a definite change but S-2 makes a point to teach me something new every day."
Dave Short, superintendent and estimator for family-owned Aurora, Ore.'s S-2 Contractors says Macdonald will work on roadways, sidewalks and, eventually, parking lots for the project. "Paving work is sporadic depending on when new surfaces are needed, so training can be a challenge but Kambra's very eager to learn," says Short. "We're showing her how to finish roll to meet the project's compaction requirements."
Married with a two-year-old boy, Macdonald doesn't mind the intermittent nature of the work because it allows her to spend time with her son. Still, work brings her special satisfaction. "I feel a sense of belonging when I'm on a construction crew. There are so many of us working together toward one goal–a finished project that will be there for years. When he's older, I can proudly tell my son that I was part of it."
The ability to provide jobs for his employees is one of the primary goals of Doug Phelps, owner of Salem, Ore.'s Freedom Precast. "Our subcontract with the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project allowed me to bring back staff and to make sure my employees can feed their families," says Phelps. The project work came at a good time for Phelps, who was able to reinstate two employees that had been laid off and add three new hires.
Freedom Precast manufacturers and delivers precast concrete sections for integration into the project's retaining walls. Phelps worked on the project that built the MAX Green Line between downtown Portland and Clackamas County and says that precast panels help with efficiency, safety and constructability. "The goal is to get the rail in as soon as you can with as little disruption as possible to the public, and that's an area where we can really help out," explains Phelps. "The contractor can bring in trucks of panels and install the walls in a timely manner with a relatively small crew, which keeps the project flowing and reduces impacts to the site."
Phelps is excited about the creative challenges on the project as well. He participated in a design-build process with the retaining wall system's proprietor to incorporate public art panels into precast sections that will be installed underneath the SE 17th Avenue light rail overcrossing of Portland's Powell Boulevard.
A family man himself, Phelps has four children ranging in age from 13 to 20. He was born in Montana, but grew up in Veneta, Ore. Phelps opened Freedom Precast in 2004 and has been in the concrete industry for nearly four decades. "I'm proud to provide a service to local contractors and TriMet to help make this project a success. It's really nice to see a project that's going to do a lot for Oregon."
Thanks to two sub-contracts on the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project, Vijay Deodhar was able to hire three new employees, essentially doubling his staff at 3D InFusion.
It's a coup for the Portland-based company that just celebrated its 10th anniversary, and Deodhar stated the project did more than boost his firm's bottom line. "Working on the TriMet projects gave us so much confidence and increased our credentials. Now we have demonstrated performance on much larger projects than our previous work, and I've been able to take my business to the next level."
Deodhar arrived in New York City from his native India in the fall of 1985 and worked as an architect before coming to Portland and eventually starting his own company. 3D InFusion provides computer-aided design drafting, building information modeling and support services to architects, construction contractors, and public and private organizations.
As a certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) firm, Deodhar admires TriMet's efforts to engage diversity. "I admire TriMet's leadership in creating a level playing field that fosters a supportive and nurturing environment for small businesses. Opportunities like these give small businesses the chance to prove themselves and gain recognition for their skills," said Deodhar.
In fact, he attributes the PMLR projects with helping 3D InFusion recently acquire a Seattle transportation project led by internationally recognized firms. "This experience enhanced our reputation and helped us speak to a broader market," said Deodhar. "Portland's light rail system, its sustainable public policies and indigenous talent are exemplary. By taking our expertise beyond this region, it helps us bring new revenue to Oregon."
Participating in TriMet's DBE program has helped Jose Figueroa build relationships with some of the region's largest contractors.
The owner of Azuri Construction, Figueroa recently teamed with Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., the prime contractor for the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail (PMLR) Transit Project’s light rail bridge. Azuri supplied and installed fencing on the west side of the Willamette River for Kiewit’s construction storage yard.
In 1994, Figueroa parlayed his experience installing home and ranch fencing into Azuri Construction and immediately pursued certification for DBE as well as Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and Emerging Small Business (ESB) designations. "Having the DBE certification allows me to compete," Figueroa says.
Since startup, Azuri has supplied fencing for some of the region’s largest infrastructure projects, including the MAX Green Line and WES Commuter Rail. In addition to work for TriMet, the firm has worked on the City of Portland’s SW Moody Street improvements project, as well as projects for Metro and the Oregon Department of Transportation. He plans to bid on upcoming fencing contracts as PMLR construction ramps up.
Eventually, he would like to use the experience he’s gained at Azuri to start his own fencing rental business. Until then, he plans to stay busy bidding construction projects, perhaps expanding into private residential and commercial building markets if they look promising or if the transportation market slows.
Crane & Merseth Engineering/Surveying
For the past two years Clackamas County's Crane & Merseth Engineering/Surveying has worked on the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project (PMLR) performing a variety of services under different contracts.
"The TriMet work accounted for about one-third of our company's work in 2011," notes Gordon Merseth, PE, Vice President of Crane & Merseth. "As a smaller firm, we often get projects that are over quickly and end up living month by month, so this was a significant source of work for us and provided our office with a lot of peace of mind."
In the earliest stages of the new light rail line's construction, Crane & Merseth assisted CH2M Hill in locating and mapping utilities and property boundaries along the entire alignment. As a subcontractor with David Evans and Associates, the firm is finishing up a PMLR project to conduct utility relocation design for the City of Milwaukie's water and sanitary system. T.Y. Lin International also brought Crane & Merseth onboard for surveying work for the Portland Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge to help determine where to place the caissons for the bridge piers.
Merseth is a civil engineer who started the company 18 years ago with the company's principal owner, Sue Townsen, who is a professional engineer and land surveyor. The company has 12 employees, and Merseth says the PMLR work allowed them to bring two staff members who had been working reduced hours back on fulltime.
While Merseth is thrilled to have the work, he says his firm also has a personal stake in the project. "It helped not only provide jobs, but we take great satisfaction in knowing that we're helping design infrastructure for a project that will benefit the community for decades. We're leaving behind a community asset for generations to come."
Clackamas County's Emerick Construction takes pride in its local roots and community work, making the firm a great fit for the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail (PMLR) Transit Project. The company is a pre-qualified contractor for on-call demolition services for PMLR.
Emerick's work on the project in winter 2012 involves removing buildings on SE 17th Avenue near Powell Boulevard in preparation for construction. The firm is working proactively to ensure a smooth process.
"This is a unique challenge and we carefully coordinate every aspect from advance safety plans to proper demolition preparation," said Mike Degliantoni, Service Group Manager for the Special Projects Group, the Emerick division managing the demolition work. "We also track the materials we remove and work to salvage and recycle many of them, including the concrete, wood, old light tubes and steel."
Degliantoni said the project provides personal benefits for workers. The main job foreman lives blocks away from the project alignment, instilling a sense of gratification. "It's great to be involved with projects that we see every day," explained Degliantoni. "We view it as a real feather in our caps to be able to give back to the community through our project work."
The 69-year-old company began as a family-based business, and today Emerick is owned by a board of directors comprised of employees that made their way up through the ranks. Founder Paul B. Emerick was a teacher who started out by building houses in his spare time on the weekends. It seems fitting that Emerick Construction now has an array of work for the North Clackamas School District to its credit, including renovations and additions to Milwaukie High School and the new $40 million Happy Valley Elementary School.
Emerick constructs new facilities and provides remodels, historic renovations and seismic upgrades. In addition, the company's Special Projects Group offers a variety of on-call services on projects that often require a quick turnaround time, such as tenant improvements, insurance claims, and demolition.
In 2011, Oregon Business Magazine named Emerick as the Highest Ranked Commercial Contractor and one of the100 Best Companies to Work For. Emerick employs 50 fulltime staff and has 25 more project-based field crew members.
Emerick's Public Relations and Marketing Manager Samantha Jordan said the PMLR work allowed the company to keep staff gainfully employed. "Our employees are the powerhouse of our company," Jordan stated. "We invest in their training so their skillsets are true assets and the relationships they've built with our clients are invaluable. It's important to us to keep them working here, and their continued presence helps pump money back into Clackamas County."
Jacilyn Hayden, Kiewit
As the Project Environmental Coordinator for Kiewit, Jacilyn Hayden walks the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge construction site every day. She has an important role performing a host of water quality inspections, making sure all work complies with environmental permits, and overseeing environmental trainings for the crew. For a young woman who graduated from college just two years ago, working on the PMLR Bridge is a dream job.
"This project couldn't be a better fit because I really care about the environment," says Hayden. "I get to study the permits closely and carefully consider how we are handling environmental policy. I really appreciate that Kiewit discusses the environmental aspects of every operation."
Hayden had an internship with Kiewit after her junior year of college at the University of Portland and was hired fulltime after graduation. Her first assignment was placing scour protection rock inside and around the light rail bridge's cofferdams in the Willamette River. Later, Kiewit redeployed her to the bridge in her new role.
"I was so excited to get back on this project," Hayden says. "Everyone understands how hard it is to get a job these days. I feel very blessed that I have a job that allows me to do everything I want to do."
Hayden was born and raised in Juneau, Alaska and came to Portland in 2006 to study engineering, which is a family passion. Hayden's father is a civil engineer and she decided to enter the field at the age of 14, when her older brother announced he was becoming a civil engineer too. She hopes to influence other females to pursue engineering because it offers a broad range of opportunities.
Cindy Halcumb doesn’t see herself as a trailblazer. But, as the owner of KC Development, a small Camas, Wash., land surveying company, she breaks new ground—and busts a few myths—almost every day she goes to work.
Myth one is that women don’t do dirty work. In fact, Halcumb, a licensed land surveyor in Oregon and Washington, enjoys being both the boots on the ground and the brains behind the desk. "I go out on construction sites by myself and the contractor will ask, ’Where’s the crew?’ I like to see their reaction when I tell them, ’I am the crew.’"
Which gets to myth two: small firms can’t do big jobs. KC Development consists of Halcumb and two employees. Staying small allows KC to do better work, but that’s a tough sell when bidding jobs. "There are agencies that firmly believe we don’t have the capacity they’re looking for," she says. "But once you build relationships, people learn you don’t need that many hands to get it done."
The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) certification has helped Halcumb build those relationships. In 2010, KC won two surveying jobs from CH2MHill on the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project. DBE contracts provide about five percent of KC’s work, but that five percent pays off by creating awareness for her firm.
"TriMet would never have known who KC Development was (if not for the DBE certification)," Halcumb says. "For us, it’s less a way of building capacity, and more a way of getting our name out there."
After all, there’s always some new ground waiting to be broken.
The Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge is an exciting construction project for the Kiewit Corporation. Ralph Salamie, project sponsor at Kiewit Infrastructure West, says that their team is eager to be a part of the unique project. “Working on such a beautiful place as the Willamette River is the opportunity of a lifetime. When this bridge opens, it will mark 40 years since a bridge has been built over the Willamette River in Portland,” notes Salamie. “The fact that it is an iconic cable-stayed bridge makes it even more special.”
Kiewit is performing the work under a design-build contract with T.Y. Lin International to develop the bridge design. At the peak of light rail bridge construction, Kiewit will have 100 employees and 30 subcontractors working on the project. In accordance with “Buy American” federal requirements, all permanent materials will be made within the United States, fueling hundreds more jobs across the nation in the fabrication of items such as rebar, cable stays, concrete components and pipe pile, among others.
The light rail bridge has many notable features. “The cables on the bridge won’t actually anchor to the towers as traditionally done on cable-stayed bridges,” says Salamie. “They will run as continuous cables up and through pipes in the towers and attach only to the bridge deck edge girders. In addition, designing and constructing an all-concrete superstructure with special aesthetic requirements presents a number of unique challenges to our design and construction teams.”
TriMet provided a clear vision for the bridge, and it was up to the Kiewit/T.Y. Lin team to develop that vision into a beautiful yet functional bridge that could withstand even a severe earthquake.
At the peak of light rail bridge construction, Kiewit will have 100 employees and 30 subcontractors working on the project
“Designing such a technically demanding bridge type requires an exhaustive and detailed computer analysis— our technical submittal for the design consisted of 250,000 pages of computer output,” says Salamie. “On the construction side, we are challenged with constraints such as a mere four-month in-water construction window and tight working quarters.”
With more than 100 years’ experience in heavy civil, transportation, power, water and wastewater construction, the Omaha, Neb.-based Kiewit Corporation has a large portfolio of national bridge work across the nation and in the Pacific Northwest. Notable bridges that Kiewit has constructed include the Charles River Bridge in Boston, Mass., and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge’s Skyway segment. In the Northwest, Kiewit Infrastructure West has helped people get around the Puget Sound area with the Tacoma Narrows and Hood Canal bridges. Kiewit also constructed the cable-stayed Pasco-Kennewick Bridge in Washington, and is currently constructing the Port Mann cable-stayed bridge in Vancouver, B.C.
Although Kiewit is well accustomed to successfully completing large, complex projects, the company started from humble beginnings. “We trace our roots back to 1884 when two brothers – Peter and Andrew Kiewit – started a masonry contracting firm,” explains Tom Janssen, director of external affairs for Kiewit. “The first venture into general construction began in 1900. Eventually Peter Kiewit’s son, also named Peter, shaped the company into the diverse group it is today.”
There’s a good reason why KLK Consulting’s tagline is "creative regulatory solutions," says owner and principal Karen Karlsson.
"Getting regulatory approvals for light rail projects is not always so straightforward, since codes tend to be written for buildings, roads, sewers and water lines," she says. "So we have to be creative in meeting the needs of local jurisdictions."
Karlsson should know. A licensed civil engineer, Karlsson served as the City of Portland’s light rail manager during construction of the Westside and Interstate MAX lines. So it was natural for her to bid on light rail projects after she formed KLK in 2003. KLK’s first TriMet project was the MAX Green Line.
For the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project, KLK is obtaining land use approvals and construction permits. The firm is subcontracting with David Evans and Associates on the east segment, CH2M Hill on the west segment, and directly with TriMet on the light rail bridge over the Willamette River.
Working as a subcontractor has enabled Karlsson to add capacity in land use and planning areas. She has also hired three staff members to meet the workload. "I couldn’t have done that if it hadn’t been for being a DBE and having an opportunity to be looked at by both government agencies and larger consulting firms," she says.
LEEKA Architecture and Planning
Neil Lee has been busy designing light rail platforms and other utility buildings for the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project. His local firm, LEEKA Architecture and Planning, is providing design services as part of the CH2MHill team on the segment of the line west of the Willamette River in Portland.
Certified as both a Minority Business Enterprise and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, LEEKA provides full architectural services including new building design, land use planning, space planning, ADA compliance studies, renovations of existing buildings and tenant improvements.
The seeds of LEEKA’s success were planted more than 10 years ago. As a member of the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs (OAME), Lee worked on an initiative to build more collaboration between large and small firms. That eventually led to the formation of OAME’s Architects and Engineers trade group, which allows small business owners to share issues and learn about trends, opportunities and resources. Networking contacts he made there sowed the seeds of being asked to bid on the light rail project.
Participating in TriMet’s DBE program opens more opportunities for LEEKA to team with large firms on bigger projects. And it allows the firm to build capacity. "The only way to grow is to get into larger projects," Lee says. "It’s a great way to learn. I can implement systems into my firm that make it better, more efficient and successful."
Jason Patton, Malcolm Drilling
After a few weeks without employment last fall, Malcolm Drilling Company’s Jason Patton was relieved when he got the call to work on the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project. With a wife, four sons and a daughter, having work is critical for Patton, but this job is especially important because it keeps the Gresham, Ore., resident at home with his family.
A fulltime Malcolm employee for the past seven years, Patton is willing to go wherever the work takes him. In 2011, this meant a six-month project in Wisconsin and a three-month job in Seattle. In the summer, his sons traveled joined him where he was working, but the distance is hard on Patton when school is in session.
“The project work is so important to me because it’s allowing us to pay our bills and take care of our kids and it keeps me home,” asserts Patton. “It’s such a blessing to be with my family every night and be on this job.”
Patton’s days are currently spent working on columns to support the Harbor structure, a raised transitway that will pass over and under several roadways in South Waterfront, keeping the new light rail line out of traffic. Malcolm is drilling shafts 2.5-meters in diameter 90 to 160 feet into the ground for the columns. Patton’s job becomes complex when any of the shafts hit the water table because he must perform extensive mathematical calculations to maintain specific volumes and pressures that keep the water separate from the concrete used to created the columns. But he’s up for the challenge. A union member of Pile Drivers Local 196, Patton also performed some shaft work for the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge last fall.
Originally from Colorado, Patton started working in the oil fields right after high school. When the work dried up in 2003, he came to Oregon and started working for Malcolm. “This is the best company I’ve ever worked for. Our staff is pretty versatile so we are set up to take on any job, and I jump into anything I can.” As for his current TriMet assignment Patton says, “I couldn’t be happier.”
Northwest Shade Trees
Major infrastructure projects often require the removal of existing landscape prior to construction, followed by its replacement after major construction work is completed. The Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project (PMLR) is no different. When it comes time to install landscaping along the project alignment, approximately 2,000 trees will be planted, more than twice the amount scheduled for removal.
In Brooks, Oregon, Northwest Shade Trees is already growing 700 trees for the project. TriMet purchased the trees more than a year in advance to ensure all of the require species would be available and at the right size when it's time to plant them at their permanent locations along the light rail alignment.
Art Anderson, general manager at Northwest Shade Trees, says there were many steps involved in TriMet's tree selection. "It was a very thoughtful process. TriMet came out and inspected each tree and identified the ones they wanted for each location. They chose an interesting palate of native trees and cultivars that offer specific characteristics."
Important considerations included growth habits, form, disease resistance, low maintenance, fall leaf color, and tolerance for wet conditions and reflected heat from surfaces such as buildings, roadways and light rail platforms. Among other species, Oregon Oak and Oregon Ash, linden, dogwood, gingko, serviceberry, snowbell and a variety of maple trees all made the list.
Northwest Shade Trees has 13 employees and grows 130,000 trees of over 350 varieties. Started in 1973 by the Schmidt family, the company serves a large variety of clients in the Western U.S. and Western Canada. With the economic downturn, instead of ordering trees in advance, customers started waiting until they were sure they had a job that required trees before place an order. The PMLR project is a notable exception, providing Northwest Shade Trees with two advance contracts.
Anderson is a Clackamas County resident who has been in the nursery business for 30 years and he's happy to see trees being incorporated in the project. "As our country becomes increasingly populated, we have to provide more transportation options. At the same time, we must incorporate as much of our natural environment into our urban setting as possible. Trees provide wildlife habitat, and humanity needs them to survive."
Winning a property management services contract for the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project felt like David beating Goliath, says Jaime Ramos, president of Ramos, Inc.
His certified DBE prevailed over larger, experienced property management companies. "For a small DBE to get the prime contract speaks volumes to TriMet’s commitment to small business," Ramos says. "And it gives hope to the little guy that, if we play our cards right, we can also win."
Ramos’ company did "a little bit of everything" at first. He then transitioned from residential landscaping to larger commercial and government jobs, including landscape subcontracting on TriMet’s MAX Green Line project. Always willing to work hard and learn fast, Ramos is grateful for the training, mentoring and networking opportunities he gained through such organizations as TriMet’s DBE program, the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs, the National Association of Minority Contractors in Oregon, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and others. "They’ve helped me get where I’m at today," Ramos says.
With the experience gained on numerous projects for TriMet, the City of Portland, Multnomah County and others, Ramos, Inc., is now a specialty general contractor with the capacity to bid on large, complex construction projects. For the future, Ramos is positioning his company as an inclusive, technology-savvy leader in sustainable business and building practices.
"We didn’t have a clear focus until the sustainability movement started to click here in the community," he says. "We realized this is the future. We started to align ourselves towards that, and the evolution has been tremendous."
Ross Island Sand & Gravel
Forming the 18-foot thick concrete pile cap for the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge's West Tower was a 36-hour marathon for Ross Island Sand & Gravel Co. A crew of 70 laid down more than 1,700 cubic yards of concrete to unite six underwater piers into a single foundation.
The Portland company also supplied 4,000 cubic yards of concrete to create the piers below and will do the same for the East Tower piers before the second big pile-cap pour. By the time the superstructure is complete, Ross Island Sand & Gravel will provide more than 20,000 cubic yards, or 40,000 tons, of concrete for the bridge.
The company's concrete is also helping build the project's West Segment Harbor structure and roadway improvements. Combined, the contracts generate several million dollars for a company that supports 200 fulltime employees. This is good news to Rick Grolbert, general manager of operations. "Our staff has been paired down badly over the last few years with the economy, and the TriMet jobs increased our general workflow to help us keep people on," Grolbert explained.
Ross Island Sand & Gravel opened in 1926 when three families bought Ross Island and subsequently used its aggregate to create the Ross Island Bridge. "We built most of this town in the early years," said Ken Gambill, the company's general sales manager. Now, the company provides concrete to industrial, commercial and residential buildings; and airport and state highway paving. "Because we are a local company that remains privately-held, all monies we make stay local."
Triunity Engineering & Management
When Jonnie L. Thomas worked as a communication engineer at TriMet during the 1990s, he saw a number of minority-owned businesses develop their capacity through the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program.
So it was natural for him to obtain DBE certification when he and his brother, Marvin, started their own firm, Triunity Engineering & Management, in 2003. Today, the Triunity chief executive officer credits his early TriMet experience with helping the company succeed as a DBE contractor.
"The technical knowledge I gained and the people I got to know at TriMet are still benefiting our company years later," Thomas says.
Based in Denver, Triunity specializes in electrical and controls engineering, information technology and program management services for public infrastructure projects. The firm employs 35 people in five cities, including Portland.
On the Portland Milwaukie Light Rail (PMLR) Transit Project, Triunity is providing communications engineering design services under the LTK systems contract.
Winning work as a certified DBE has gotten Triunity's foot in the door on numerous projects, and proving themselves on the job has brought additional work. Eventually, Thomas wants to outgrow subcontracting and become a multi-discipline professional services prime contractor with a strong customer focus.
In the meantime, though, subcontracting on projects like PMLR is helping pave the way to that future. "Long-term contracts like this enable us to be more proactive in going after other work," Thomas says. "It also gives us great past performance with a client who is nationally known."