Case Study: Thomas Enterprises


Managing remediation activities at Sacramento Locomotive Works in California to significantly reduce costs and maximize development opportunities for Thomas Enterprises

Our Approach

The historic Sacramento Locomotive Works was for many years one of the largest industrial facilities in California and at one time the largest employer in the region. This 240 acre railyard was the point of departure for rail connections across the mountainous western states, and served as the western terminus for the transcontinental railroad.

After more than 130 years of industrial production, economics forced the shutdown of the facility. Leaving the owner with shuttered historic buildings and an environmental legacy of heavy industry adjacent the Sacramento central business district, the Sacramento railyard was one of the largest contaminated sites in the US.

Riding a bold redevelopment vision, Thomas Enterprises bought what has become one of the most valuable pieces of undeveloped urban real estate in the country.  The transaction carried an insurance policy that provides for clean up of asbestos, heavy metals, volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds and petroleum hydrocarbons.

Following clean up, the developer will convert the 240 acre railyards into a multi-billion-dollar, mixed-use extension of downtown Sacramento that will include retail, hotel, and office buildings, entertainment and sports venues, parks and cultural amenities and over 10,000 housing units.

ERM has been involved with the property since 1990 and was instrumental in establishing the insured scope of work and the engineering cost estimate for site cleanup.

ERM developed tactical and strategic approaches to manage the complex technical, regulatory, and business demands of the property.  In 1995, ERM designed and installed an interim ground water remediation system that has had dramatic effect on the dimensions of an offsite VOC plume.  In 2000, ERM began large-scale soil remediation for heavy metals, asbestos, and various hydrocarbons. To date, ERM has excavated and profiled over one million tons of soil for disposal, chemical stabilization, land farming, or onsite reuse.  Soil remediation is coordinated with redevelopment and in late 2008, ERM completed remediation of over 180 acres and secured clean parcel status, which led to a ground-breaking ceremony on April 23 2009 and the initiation of infrastructure construction on the property.

ERM co-sponsored an Earth Day 2008 cleanup along Sacramento River adjacent to the railyards that was attended by over 30 members of the Thomas project team and received extensive press coverage.

Benefits and Value

By carefully managing remediation activities, ERM has balanced soil handling efficiencies, disposal options, and the redevelopment schedule to significantly reduced costs and maximize development opportunities for Thomas Enterprises. In 2007 and 2008, ERM’s behavior-based safety program achieved zero recordable incidents for over 55,000 work hours.

According to Mark Ransom, “this work puts ERM on the map as one of the premier companies engaged in complex redevelopment projects. It will serve as a template for our clients in terms of value added to their corporate real estate portfolios.”  Partnering with ERM on such Brownfields redevelopments provides a degree of certainty that projects will be completed successfully, on budget and with the safety of onsite workers a priority.

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