Builders' Message: Carquinez Radio Tower’s July 2022 Recap

Located in Carquinez Regional Park in the hills of Martinez, CA, the Carquinez Radio Tower is a unique project for Webcor.

August 18, 2022

Project Updates

Located in Carquinez Regional Park in the hills of Martinez, CA, the Carquinez Radio Tower is a unique project for Webcor. This project, which will set up a new communications tower and electrical building for Contra Costa County, came to us as a $1.5 million change order to our Contra Costa County Administration Building Demolition and Redevelopment (ADR) project.

For us to begin demo on the Contra Costa Admin building in downtown Martinez, multiple active communication dishes and radio antennas located atop the roof of the building needed to be removed. The county chose to build a new tower in the hills behind the project to house the dishes and antennas. This new tower will also hold existing active KQED AM/FM antennas currently held by an aging tower in the hills next to the new project site. Once these AM/FM antennas have been transferred to the new tower, the county can demolish the old tower.

All of this work was supposed to be completed before our team mobilized at the Admin building project site. However, although the County managed the construction, they did not have the expertise to deliver the scope of work required. Since the County had already contracted Vanir Construction as the construction manager (CM) of the ADR project, they hired them for the same role at the Radio Tower project. Thanks to the relationship we had built with Vanir during the Newark Civic Center project and through the beginning of the ADR project, Vanir immediately asked Webcor to perform the general contracting services.

Our scope included grading, excavation, concrete foundations, transportation, placement of the electrical building and radio tower, electrical connections and grounding, and a new steel fence around the site. The project’s location – atop a hill with only one suitable access road – posed an immediate logistical challenge. The road is long, narrow, and unpaved with many turns. The electrical building is a pre-fabricated modular design that will weigh 93,000 pounds when fully built. Knowing how challenging it would be to transport that building and a 50-foot-long radio tower to the top hill, we brought in Sheedy to help.

While the modular building was being assembled in Indiana, we were able to get the radio tower components delivered to Sheedy’s yard in San Francisco, which gave them an opportunity to pre-fab the tower on the ground. Assembling this way was much easier than doing so on-site and facilitated the engineer’s visual building inspection process to ensure everything was connected correctly before erecting it. Once the building was finally received, it was transported with the tower from San Francisco to the base of the hill.

Due to the building’s size and weight, it was not safe to transport up the steep, uneven hill on a regular trailer. Sheedy planned to use a Goldhofer trailer system to drive the building up the hill. A Goldhofer trailer is a remote-controlled platform with a total of 16 wheels across 4 axels per 6-foot section. Each axel has hydraulic pistons that can be raised or lowered to adjust to changing road conditions to keep the platform level. Multiple sections can be linked together to operate as one unit, and every wheel can rotate a full 180 degrees, allowing the trailers to drive horizontally if needed.

After two unsuccessful attempts to drive the building up using lead cars to assist the Goldhofer trailer due to poor road traction, we had to call in a D10 cat crawler to pull it up.

Once we finally reached the top, we hoisted the building and tower into place within a day.

Webcor Concrete assisted with anchoring and leveling the building. Both structures were secured in place on Monday, August 8 – the culmination of six months of planning and coordination.

We’re currently completing the final electrical grounding connections to the Buried Ground Ring and installing the steel fence. We anticipate completion before Labor Day.

Throughout the construction process, Contra Costa County has expressed their gratitude to Webcor and our trade partners for helping them complete this project. Thanks to our involvement, we avoided a major delay to our ADR project schedule, saving the county money and ourselves time.