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Caltrain's board last week authorized the release of the design-build request for proposals (RFP) for the Peninsula Corridor electrification project.To be released later this month, the RFP is the next critical step in the design and construction of the $1.5 billion project to electrify the railroad's system, which is slated for operation in late 2020, Caltrain officials said in a press release.With the board's latest action, six previously qualified firms now may provide proposals for the contract to design and construct the project. The action also specifically directs the winning bidder to design the system in a way that minimizes the project's impact on trees and addresses other issues important to communities along the corridor, Caltrain officials said.The project calls for installing poles to support overhead wires that will power a new fleet of electric trains. Ten traction power facilities will be built to provide electricity to the wires.The RFP requires that the project be designed to include alternative pole configurations, such as a center-pole design, to significantly reduce the impact on trees. During the environmental review period, Caltrain applied alternative designs to five test cases. In one such case, the number of trees required for removal was reduced from 50 to 14 using an alternative design. The design alternative will be used unless physical conditions, existing utilities or other extenuating circumstances require a different approach, Caltrain officials said.The railroad expects to award the design-build contract late this year.