Construction

Trucks transport dirt from a pile on the corner of Lubich Drive and Bryant Avenue, adjacent to Jan Johnston-Tyler’s home, to Mountain View High. Ongoing construction has impacted the neighborhood, prompting questions about a lack of information from the school district.

As construction continues on the Mountain View High School campus, a neighborhood resident expressed frustration with the impact of the work and the lack of communication from the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District.

MVLA used $295 million in Measure E bond funds to underwrite construction projects at Mountain View and Los Altos high schools, as well as the Freestyle Academy of Communication Arts & Technology. Projects include new classroom buildings, Student Services buildings and an auxiliary gym, among other facilities upgrades.

Jan Johnston-Tyler, who lives near Mountain View High, described a typical weekday: Just after 7 a.m., four or so dump trucks line up at a site at Lubich Drive and Bryant Avenue, waiting to enter to get a full load of dirt scooped up by a large front loader; they then rumble back up the street to dump it onto the school construction site. The size of the dirt pile the trucks are transporting is approximately two stories high, 40 feet wide and more than 100 feet long. The back-and-forth transfer continues throughout the day until 6 p.m.

“All day long, there’s trucks dieseling in front of my yard,” Johnston-Tyler said. “And then there’s the dust, picking up the dirt and then dumping it in the dump truck. We live virtually right across the street from where they’re dumping all of this soil.”

According to Johnston-Tyler, semis also travel up and down the street, often making U-turns onto Ivan Way – a relatively small side street – with cars parked on both sides because much of the school parking lot has been closed to accommodate construction. Ivan is so packed with cars, she said, her family cannot find street parking during the day.

Johnston-Tyler noted that the construction work is important and that the disruptions are not her primary concern. Rather, she is discouraged by the lack of information from MVLA. Her neighborhood, she said, was given neither notice nor a timeline of how long construction would last.

“They have absolutely no information on their website, they have not communicated at all with anyone,” Johnston-Tyler said of how MVLA is managing the project. “They’re supposed to have a master plan on their website, and they don’t.”

Johnston-Tyler added that MVLA officials have not been in contact with the city of Mountain View, either. Nena Bizjak, Mountain View’s chief building official, has reached out to the MVLA Board of Trustees and Superintendent Nellie Meyer in search of answers.

District response

Mike Mathiesen, assistant superintendent of business services, responded on behalf of the MVLA board via email when questioned about Johnston-Tyler’s concerns. He said a postcard that was prepared in late August to update the community is in the final stages of review this week.

“We delayed sending out the postcard in part until the new classrooms were completed in August so we could include information and pictures of the newly completed projects,” Mathiesen said of the multiphase construction project.

MVLA officials also developed a Construction FAQ page, linked from the Measure E Construction Update webpage, to keep neighbors up to date on construction.

However, the board acknowledged there are parts of the website that need updating and refreshing, and officials are in the midst of a larger overhaul of various district websites.

In regard to the pile of dirt the trucks are moving, Mathiesen said MVLA is following all required protocols outlined in the California Environmental Quality Act, which includes watering to minimize dust and constant air monitoring, to ensure the dirt doesn’t turn into mud.

“Given the footprint of the building (under construction) and the depth of foundation footings … it is a significant amount of dirt that had to be excavated, then put back in while mixing with lime treatment to harden the soil,” Mathiesen said.

He added that the city of Mountain View is renting to the district the vacant parcel next to Alta Vista High School, adjacent to Johnston-Tyler’s home, to use as a staging area, including for the temporary stockpile of excavated dirt, as there is “simply not enough space” on the Mountain View High campus. That’s why the dump trucks had to ferry the dirt during the excavation and earthwork portion of the project. The project was scheduled to wrap up last week.

According to Mathiesen, MVLA communicates with the city regularly on a variety of ongoing topics, and he contacted Bizjak after being connected in recent email strings.

RGM Kramer, the construction management firm overseeing and coordinating all of MVLA’s projects, has posted contact information at each job site. There are multiple contractors on each project as well, and that information can be provided if needed, Mathiesen said.

For construction updates and more information, contact:

• Mountain View High: Ken Judd at (925) 628-0186 or kenj@rgmkramer.com

• Los Altos High: Garrett Fonseca at (831) 818-4584 or garrettf@rgmkramer.com

• Freestyle Academy and Mountain View High gym: David Watts at davidw@rgmkramer.com

By

Staff Writer

Angela Tam covers local schools as the Town Crier's education reporter.