Tuesday, August 26, 2008


While the Sacramento project continued on schedule and was even making some money, the estimators in Reno had been busy securing more work in California for me to run. We were going to be involved in the construction of the AC Transit headquarters building in Oakland and the new and remodeled Clarion Hotel in Millbrae.

Now I had to spend part of each week driving over to the Bay area to check on progress and determine when I would need full crews at each location. You couldn’t always depend on the General contractor to call you in time. They always assumed that you had a crew for them, just standing around and waiting to be called. Not.

AC Transit (Alameda County Transit) was located just off of East 14th Street. And in a very undesirable location. I remember that you turned left just a few blocks from the East Bay Drifters motorcycle gang clubhouse. And the East Bay Dragons MC was close by.

I already knew the General contractor’s superintendent from a time spent in Reno on another job, so we had a good relationship. And he told me that just about everyone on the jobsite was ‘packin’. Guns in their lunch pails and guns in their vehicles. The jobsite itself was fenced with razor wire and everyone parked their car on the site and not on the street outside. Culture shock!

I talked a couple of likely guys into becoming foreman and distributed the plans and spec’s to them so that they might become familiar with the jobs.

The AC Transit project, except for location, was a pretty straight forward job. No mystery and I wasn’t going to worry about it. But the Clarion hotel was a different story. It was located near the end of the runway at San Francisco International Airport and close enough that the FAA had jurisdiction over the type of construction we were doing and the height of that construction. It was also a ‘panel’ job and that meant that the exterior skin of the hotel was going to be built in Reno and then trucked to the jobsite, where we would hoist it into place. And that’s where the FAA got involved.

We needed a crane for this work and the General contractor had one for us to use. A very special one that sat on railroad tracks located next to the building. It was a tower crane, but one that could quickly move to the end of the tracks and then lower itself to the ground whenever the FAA called to tell us they were going to use that runway for southbound take-off’s. Pretty cool! Except for the fact that we had no idea as to when they would call and so all of our schedules depended on which way the wind was blowing. A wind from the south meant we couldn’t use the crane until it shifted…but then we would be behind schedule! A no-win situation.

But first, before we could even begin new work, we had to repair the old hotel. Since the new hotel was being built on fill dirt and who knew what else that had been placed in the bay a long time ago, pilings had to be driven into the muck to support the new construction. As there is a law of physics that says there is a reaction to every action, sure enough, every piling driven in was raising the old hotel a few inches at a time. After a couple hundred hammer blows, the old 3-story hotel was about a foot off of its original elevation and water and sewer pipes were breaking every day. Plus, walls and ceilings were now cracked and broken. A big job for us and all extra work. $$$$

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