Allan Tanjuaquio’s title on the $1.03 billion I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project, Construction Manager, means he is responsible for all construction and a large portion of quality assurance. Along with other members of project management, Tanjuaquio ensures that the construction meets Caltrans standards and specifications.
Perhaps this is why his office includes multiple towers of paper, although he insists that he tells team members he only wants electronic documents. He informs a visitor that when the design of the I-405 widening project is set, most of the stacks will disappear.
Tanjuaquio has been building highways since 1991, including time spent in traffic design, operations and maintenance, and he says he has no regrets in choosing this line of work. He certainly knew what he was getting into: As a child, he saw the construction industry from the inside.
Tanjuaquio’s grandfather was a surveyor, and his mother is a construction engineer with a stint as a civil engineer for the Army Corps of Engineers. “When I was I kid, I was going to construction offices with my hardhat on,” Tanjuaquio recalls.
Working for Caltrans was his first job after college, and he says he still loves building things. “I started working on the I-105 freeway when it was just dirt,” he adds.
From there he worked on the team repairing the I-10 after it collapsed from the Northridge Earthquake. He then served as an engineer with the team that widened Highway 101 in Santa Barbara. He also helped build the Transitway at USC, which was designed by I-405 project manager Mike Barbour when he worked for Caltrans.
Now, after serving as the senior construction engineer during the I-405 Environmental Impact Report process, Tanjuaquio has the opportunity to upgrade the complex machine known as the I-405.
Tanjuaquio sees four elements as major contributors to the project’s complexity:
- Its 10-mile length
- Its task widening one of the busiest highways in the nation
- Its role as the largest design-build project Caltrans has undertaken
- Its project team results from a marriage between Metro and Caltrans
“We’re widening the mainline by approximately 30 feet,” Tanjuaquio explains. “That is quite a bit. And we’re building the HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lane from scratch. It may seem that we’re laying a little asphalt, but there are layers and layers of construction effort before that.”
The fact that the route of the new HOV lane exists is a plus for the project team, says Tanjuaquio. A negative comes from the fact that the highway is already open, meaning work hours must be limited, to keep the I-405 functioning and minimize impact to the public.
While there are safety and environmental benefits from the project, Tanjuaquio focuses on the benefit of adding a northbound HOV lane. “It’s designed for people to commute from one end of the 405 to the other,” he explains. “It’s meant for the I-405 to offer carpooling from both ends of the I-5.”
Given that Tanjuaquio takes four highways during his commute, his enthusiasm for carpooling is understandable. If he were able to use carpool lanes during the length of his four- to five-hour daily commute, the Diamond Bar resident estimates he would save two hours each day. This would give him more time to spend watching his two daughters and son perform their Tae Kwon Do.
“In college, my buddies wanted to build something that everyone would see,” Tanjuaquio says. “That’s what I do. I build things that everyone uses.”