Morgan Hill

City Council Staff Report
No Action Taken
Mar 7, 2018 7:00 PM

Appropriate Funds for High Speed Rail Consultant Agreements


Department:DS (General)Sponsors:



Should the Council direct staff to also proceed with the work with Urban Field Studios to develop design solutions for neighborhoods affected by the HSR project even though the alignment has not yet been chosen and this work will not be reimbursed?



In June 2016, the City entered into a Reimbursement Agreement with the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA). This Agreement was designed to help the City evaluate the High Speed Rail (HSR) project and provide adequate and timely feedback.  Through this Reimbursement Agreement, staff has contracted with David J. Powers & Associates and Apex Strategies to support the review of the HSR project.

On May 24, 2017, the Morgan Hill City Council approved three technical contracts to help evaluate and advance design solutions for the California High Speed Rail project through Morgan Hill.  The three contracts were with 1) Michael Baker International to peer review Highway 101 alternatives for $64,026; 2) Kitchell CEM to update City Standards and provide additional technical support for $255,000, and 3) Urban Field Studios to provide design guidelines for $153,440. The total amount for all three contracts is $472,466.


Based on conversations with CHSRA, staff was under the impression that the Michael Baker International contract and the Urban Field Studio contract were going to be reimbursed by CHSRA through the Reimbursement Agreement between the City and CHSRA. The Kitchell CEM contract had some elements that were not reimbursable, but staff was working with CHSRA staff to explore a path forward for all three contracts.  Following approval of the three contracts, staff immediately began work with Michael Baker International to evaluate the Highway 101 alternatives and with Kitchell CEM to review City Standards. However, the CHSRA has since informed the City that this work is not currently reimbursable under the existing Reimbursement Agreement. Over the last year, staff has been working with various CHSRA representatives to arrive at a solution. The CHSRA is currently reviewing $39,637.50 of Kitchell CEM invoices for reimbursement under the existing contract. They are indicating the work with Michael Baker International and Urban Field Studios is not eligible under the Reimbursement Agreement.


The City has spent approximately $108,000 with the three technical contracts, which only a portion of the $39,637.50 is anticipated to be recovered through the CHSRA Reimbursement Agreement. The main purpose of this report is to reconcile the expenditures to date and to inform the Council that the work with Urban Field Studios will be placed on hold until the CHSRA can support the effort. Attached is a budget scorecard that reflects the HSR-associated expenditures in the City’s Long Range Planning Fund. 


Below is a more detailed report on the three contracts and expenditures to date:


#1) Contract with Michael Baker International in the amount of $64,026.  Work completed. Fully invoiced and paid.


Michael Baker International was retained to evaluate the feasibility of a freeway-only alignment.  Given the limited information provided from CHSRA on the reason why a freeway option was not feasible, the City needed to be able to respond to community inquiries on the freeway options. Michael Baker provided an independent study that evaluated the feasibility of keeping the HSR system within the freeway right of way. This information is a crucial part of the understanding of the project needed to evolve the dialog in the community, especially for the residents in the neighborhood most directly impacted.  The work has been completed. The City has paid Michael Baker and is seeking reimbursement for that work.


#2) Contract with Kitchell CEM in the amount of $255,000. Invoiced $39,637.50. Paid $38,762.50


Kitchell CEM was retained to assist with updating City engineering and utility specs and MuniCode development standards to address HSR-related impact to construction, noise, lighting, and relocation of city facilities. The City understands updating the City Standards is not work that can or should be reimbursed by the CHSRA. The City was expecting reimbursement on other HSR-related efforts. Kitchell has been instrumental in reviewing and drafting a response for CHSRA’s 15% design. They have and continue to provide assistance on evaluating impact to City facilities, roads, and utilities impacted by the project. This consultant is also assisting with revisions of the City’s Municipal Code to amend sections related to noise, lighting, construction staging and construction-related mitigations that will place the City in a better position to respond to large construction projects such as the HSR project. The City anticipates an additional $10,000 of costs associated with the changes to the City’s Municipal Code.


Additionally, the City continues to receive requests from High Speed Rail to review and respond to documents such as the request received on February 28th for the review of the Draft Preliminary Engineering for Project Definition document that begins to identify discrepancies with the City’s Design Standards. Kitchell services will be instrumental in the review of this document; therefore, staff recommends securing additional funding to allow the city to complete current work underway and continue to respond to other unforeseen requests that may come over the next several months. Staff recommends appropriation of the full contract amount of $255,000.  On a parallel track, staff will continue to work with CHSRA to secure reimbursement for these project-born expenses.


#3) Contract with Urban Field Studios in the amount of $153,440. Invoiced/Paid: $3,991.98.


Urban Field Studios was hired to develop design solutions for impacted areas such as the Walnut Grove neighborhood which is severely impacted by the HSR project. Urban Field Studios can also help the City develop design solutions and identify appropriate mitigation for the project through Morgan Hill.  Urban Field Studios attended a couple initial meetings to understand the project. They have submitted an invoice for and the City has paid $3,991.98. This contract is currently on hold until the Reimbursement Agreement is updated and funding can be secured from CHSRA.



The City of Morgan Hill has a HSR web page that provides basic information on the project and links to HSR staff and website for additional information. 



The Council may choose to direct staff to proceed with the work with Urban Field Studios to develop design solutions for neighborhoods affected by the HSR project.



In June 2016, the Council approved a Reimbursement Agreement and contracts with Apex Strategies and David J. Powers to help evaluate and comment on the alternatives. On May 24, 2017, Council approved three consultant contracts to help evaluate and advance design solutions for the HSR project, including a contract with rail experts, Michael Baker International to evaluate the feasibility of a freeway-only alignment.



The City has spent approximately $108,000 with the three technical contracts associated with the HSR project. While it is anticipated that a portion of Kitchell CEM’s work (approximately $39,000) will be reimbursed by the CHSRA, staff recommends that the entire amount spent of $108,000 and additional anticipated expenditures in the amount of $215,000, totaling approximately $323,000, be accounted for in the Long Range Planning Fund 207. Any reimbursements from CHSRA will replenish this Fund


CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act): 

Not a Project


By the definition provided in the California Environmental Quality Act Guidelines Section 15378 this item does not qualify as a "project" and is therefore exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act requirements.

Meeting History

Mar 7, 2018 7:00 PM Video City Council Regular Meeting
draft Draft

Item continued through the adoption of the agenda to the April 4, 2018 City Council meeting.