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Project facts


Golden Gate Constructors




San Francisco, CA




May 2019–March 2020


Commercial-Industrial & Distribution


  • Electrical
  • Underground Utility

This project involved the installation of a new substation E-House, transformers, sectionalizer, ten charging stations with one preconditioned air unit, two 400 Hz frequency converters and disconnect racks, along with associated electrical infrastructure and cable/fiber installation for remain overnight (RON) aircraft parking at San Francisco International Airport.

In completing this project, the Royal team faced six major challenges:

  1. Water — A substantial amount of water, particularly in existing manholes, which needed to be removed, tested, and managed according to strict SFO protocols.
  2. Small Yard — Space is very limited at SFO, at one point there were as many as four contractors working in the yard Royal had been assigned, including one whose work area went through our yard.  We had to be creative to stay organized and ensure equipment was at the project on time.
  3. Communication — The new E-house had to communicate with the SFONet, so that power meters could be monitored remotely rather than physical inspection.  Coordination was required between multiple departments at SFO including the IT department.
  4. Safety — SFO identified additional safety concerns after project start and asked Golden Gate Constructorsto add concrete K-rail barriers to our work areas, which needed to be moved every day during the course of work. In addition, our work area was on an active airplane parking area where planes were constantly being towed in and out. 
  5. Existing Utilities — While the owner marked the work area’s underground utilities, additional unforeseen utilities — including old electrical conduits and water mains — were discovered when digging began.
  6. Long Lead Times — Some equipment, including the E-House needed to be ordered months in advance. This required a lot of coordination to ensure that the location was ready when the E-House and other components arrived. Some of the specialty equipment for the job did not arrive on time. Coordinating deliveries was also a challenge because access to the work area changed — gates were available on certain days, but not others.

Communication was key to resolving all challenges and was made possible by a great project team that included members from SFO and Golden Gate Constructors (the GC). With several projects going on simultaneouslyin the area, Royal had to communicate with the other contractors and directly with SFO for successful coordination between projects.

The project was broken down into geographical phases in order to minimize impact on airfield operations and ensure all protocols were followed. 

  • To ensure proper water removal after testing our crews drove to planned locations, ensured sediment catch basins were in place and extracted the collected water. 
  • To overcome yard space challenges, we left some equipment in Sacramento until the precise time it was needed on the job. 
  • Challenges with existing utilities were resolved by developing new plans, relocating small lines and digging under or around others. In some cases, this required deep trenching, typically 11 to 12 feet deep, along with extensive shoring. 
  • Proper coordination with Airport Safety Operations (ASO) was key to ensuring the Royal team could get work completed on time, while keeping airline operations running smoothly.  

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