Friday, September 23, 2016

'Watch Out for Wildlife Week' Puts Spotlight on Safety

Be alert when driving in areas frequented by wildlife, and reduce your speed so you can react safely. This sign is on
State Route 23 in the city of Thousand Oaks in Caltrans District 7.

Watch out! Every year, drivers collide with wildlife in California and across the U.S., sometimes with tragic results for motorists, their passengers and the animals too.

Sept. 18-24, 2016, is Watch Out for Wildlife Week, the fourth week of September, when the spotlight focuses on ways for drivers to avoid such tragic incidents.

The Watch Out for Wildlife campaign is supported by Caltrans, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the nonprofit organization Defenders of Wildlife, and the Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Davis.

“We urge motorists to remain alert and be cautious when traveling through wildlife areas, so our roadways will remain as safe as possible,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty.

“Drivers can really make a difference in avoiding wildlife collisions, simply by being aware while driving and watching for wildlife crossing signs,” Dougherty added.

According to Defenders of Wildlife, a national organization dedicated to protecting native species and their natural communities, between 725,000 and 1.5 million wildlife-vehicle collisions occur in the U.S. every year, resulting in more than 200 human fatalities. In California, between eight and 10 drivers and as many as 20,000 deer die in wildlife-vehicle collisions each year.

“Between now and December, deer and other wildlife are highly susceptible to vehicle collisions,” said Marc Kenyon, manager of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's human-wildlife conflict program.

“Deer will soon start their annual migrations to winter range, bucks will be preoccupied competing for mates, and bears will be searching for food in preparation for hibernation,” Kenyon explained. “Such natural behaviors can lead these animals into the way of unsuspecting drivers. Drivers can prevent collisions with animals by being careful and paying attention.”

Wildlife experts associated with the Watch Out for Wildlife campaign offer the following tips for motorists:

Be especially alert when driving in areas frequented by wildlife, and reduce your speed so you can react safely. Increase your following distance between you and other cars.

Pay particular attention when driving during the morning and evening, as wildlife are most active during these times.

If you see an animal cross the road, know that another may be following.

Don’t litter. The odors may entice animals to venture near roadways.

Your car is not a natural predator and the animal does not know to get out of your way. Even if an animal sees you, it may still jump in front of your car.

If an animal crosses safely in front of your car, proceed with caution because it may turn and try to cross back.

Be especially careful if you are on a motorcycle. About 2 percent of deer-car collisions result in human fatalities, but most deer-motorcycle collisions involve human fatalities.

Pay attention to both sides of the road by scanning from side to side. If you have passengers, ask them to help you keep an eye out for animals.

Follow the rules of safe driving. Distracted driving, such as driving while talking on your cell phone, text messaging or chatting with passengers is even more dangerous in wildlife areas.

As always, make sure you and your passengers wear seatbelts.

Monday, September 19, 2016

How to Install 110-Foot Girders on a Freeway Bridge in the Middle of the Night

The night of September 15, 2016, crews erected and bolted 110-foot steel girders to the Providencia Avenue bridge in Burbank. The work is part of a month-long operation that is widening the bridge to accommodate the new carpool lanes on I-5 between SR-134 and Magnolia Boulevard. Check out the photos below to see the crew in action.

More information about the girder erection is here.

More information about the project is here

Monday, September 12, 2016

Providencia Bridge Girder Erection Now Underway

WHAT’S HAPPENING: Through late October, Caltrans’ contractor will be erecting and bolting 110-foot girders to the Providencia Avenue bridge in Burbank as part of a project that is widening I-5 between SR-134 and Magnolia Boulevard to accommodate new carpool lanes. This work will require nighttime I-5 lane closures and full closures of Flower Street.

Work dates and times: The work will occur at night, 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., Monday through Friday, starting September 12 through late October 2016.

Closures: Closures will be needed on I-5, Flower Street, and a short segment of Providencia Avenue (see map on reverse), as follows:

  • I-5: Starting September 12 through late October, up to three lanes of I-5 will be closed from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. between Burbank Boulevard and Western Avenue. Both directions will be impacted, but—with the exception of a few nights—not at the same time. At times, it will be necessary to also close the following ramps at night: southbound I-5 Verdugo Avenue on-ramp, southbound I-5 Alameda off-ramp, northbound I-5 Alameda on-ramp. Details will be provided at Sign up there to have updates delivered to your inbox.
  • Flower Street: September 19-30, Flower Street will be closed between Verdugo Avenue and Alameda Avenue from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., Monday through Friday. When Flower Street is not fully closed, it may be necessary to close some lanes. Please watch for flaggers. Access for businesses located within the closure limits will be maintained at all times.
  • Providencia Avenue: Providencia Avenue will be closed between Flower Street and Varney Street when Flower Street is closed. 
Detours: No detour will be needed for the I-5 lane closures. For the Flower Street closure, Victory Boulevard or Lake Street is the alternate route. For the Providencia Avenue closure, Verdugo Avenue is the alternate route (see map on reverse).

Parking restrictions: Parking on Flower Street in the work zone will be prohibited at all times. Please be attentive to signs. 

Other impacts: There will be some construction noise, minimal vibration and dust, and lighting to illuminate the work area. Noise/vibration will not exceed levels permitted by federal, state and local regulations.

More information: Get updates on all project closures—visit and submit your email address to get the latest info. Questions? Call the toll-free I-5 Info Line at (855) 454-6335 or send an email to Construction and closure schedules are subject to change.

Construction Begins Along Pacific Coast Highway (SR-1) To Prevent Slope Erosion

Slope to be repaired along PCH
Caltrans will begin applying steel fiber-reinforced sprayed concrete (shotcrete) to an ocean-side slope near Big Rock Road along Pacific Coast Highway (SR-1) to prevent additional erosion to the slope supporting the highway and to help protect utility lines.  Work is expected to start on Wednesday, September 14. The project is expected to finish in late-October.
Example of shotcrete being applied to slopes along PCH at Las Tunas State Beach
The work will require a shoulder closure on southbound SR-1.  Temporary lane closures may occur on southbound lanes.  Construction crews will work Monday through Friday.  Tidal influences will require crews to adjust work schedules.  Construction noise and vibrations may occur when crews operate construction equipment.  

We ask motorists and cyclists to share the road in the work zone and Be Work Zone Alert.
The sea wall will be 20-foot tall and 150-feet wide.  The contractor will insert steel rebars into the slope, spray shotcrete onto the exposed slopes, and rearrange rocks that are already on the beach to help protect the bottom (toe) of the slope.    

Union Engineering, Inc. of Santa Maria, California was awarded this $291,000 contract that is funded by the State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP). 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Caltrans Worker Killed Today on Antelope Valley Freeway (State Route 14) in Los Angeles County

Electrician Jorge Lopez
Press Release:
Thursday, September 1

Caltrans Worker Killed Today on Antelope Valley Freeway (State Route 14) in Los Angeles County

185th Caltrans Employee Killed on the Job

Caltrans Fallen Statewide Information

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) announced that an employee of Caltrans District 7 was killed today on the Antelope Valley Freeway (State Route 14) in Los Angeles County.

Jorge Lopez, 57, an electrician, was a Caltrans employee for 16 years. He is survived by his wife and three adult children.

At 11:35 a.m. today, Lopez died when he was struck by a big rig as he was standing outside his vehicle on SR-14 in Acton. 

He was pronounced dead at the scene. Two other Caltrans employees in their vehicles witnessed the incident, on southbound SR-14 at Crown Valley Road.

“Today we mourn the loss of one of our own in this tragic incident.  Our thoughts and focus are on supporting the family at this time.  This is an unfortunate reminder of how dangerous highway work can be,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty.

Lopez is the first Caltrans District 7 employee to die on the job since 2005.  He is the 32nd in the history of District 7 (which includes Los Angeles and Ventura counties) and the 185th Caltrans employee to lose his life on the job. 

District 7 has called a safety stand down to emphasize safety procedures. All routine or regularly scheduled highway maintenance activities are being temporarily halted to revisit and reinforce all aspects of field safety and to ask the public for help. Caltrans will post notices on its statewide network of electronic highway message signs reminding motorists to watch out for highway workers.

“These tragedies are sobering reminders that we must all do everything we can to keep our highways safe,” said Dougherty. “Motorists must slow down, watch out for highway workers and safely move over a lane when passing work crews. This is why we have the ‘Move Over’ law.”

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Full Freeway Closures on Ventura Freeway (US 101) for Loop Detector Installation in San Fernando Valley

Contractor installing loop detectors on US 101 in Hollywood
Caltrans will close all lanes and ramps on north- and southbound US 101 from the US 101/SR-134/SR-170 Interchange to the US 101/I-405 Interchange (approximately 5 miles) from midnight to 5 a.m. (only mornings), Wednesday, September 7 and Thursday, September 8. 

Motorists should expect delays and consider alternate routes. 


The loop detector installation is one of the final stages of a $62 million project to repave US 101 from Studio City to Sherman Oaks in the city of Los Angeles.
Loop detectors track travel time information and speeds that reflect real-time traffic conditions. The data collected from the wire loops can be translated in many ways. For instance, the count for how many vehicles pass over each loop at any given time determines traffic volume. The length of time that a vehicle remains on the loop indicates a possible incident, congestion or if traffic is flowing smoothly.

The pavement on north- and southbound US 101, connectors, and ramps was rehabilitated by using rubberized hot mix asphalt, Portland concrete cement, and pre-cast concrete slabs.  The existing metal beam guardrail (metal and wood barriers) will also be replaced to enhance safety. 

This contract was awarded to Myers and Sons Construction, LP of Sacramento, California.  The project is funded by the State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP).  The project is expected to finish in fall 2016. 

 Remember to Be Work Zone Alert.  The CHP will be on duty.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Caltrans biologist and maintenance crews hatch plan to protect bird(s)

Inspecting tree for bird nestCaltrans Biologist (yes, we have biologists too) Francis Appiah inspected a bird nest Caltrans tree crews spotted while removing diseased, dead, and dying trees along the Glendale Freeway (SR-2) in Echo Park (Los Angeles) last week.

Working in partnership with Caltrans road maintenance and electricians, Appiah was given a “lift” in a hydraulic lift so he could get a better view of the nest. 

“Going up was one of the greatest experiences,” said Appiah, “I was fascinated that the nest had eggs.” 

Appiah is not sure what type of bird was going to hatch, but he was emphatic that it was a good call by the tree crew to contact him before proceeding. 

The tree crew will cut the dying tree down after Appiah has returned to ensure the birds have moved on. 

During nesting season Caltrans biologists survey maintenance and construction zones to ensure that crews do not cause any impacts on nesting birds (previous blog:  Caltrans Buffers Birds) in compliance with the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. 

Why were the crews removing trees?

As part of the Governor’s
California Tree Mortality Taskforce, Caltrans is removing thousands of diseased, dead, and dying trees along state highways and freeways. 

These trees can fall onto nearby buildings or onto active freeways. 

Now in the fifth year of a severe drought, California trees have been put under an incredible strain. Tens of millions of trees have died during the drought and state and federal resource agencies and universities say tens of millions more are in danger.  

Starved of water, many trees are weakened and can’t fight off invasive pests. Trees are unable to secrete sticky resin to combat bark beetle infestations, while wood-boring beetles (the Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer and Gold Spotted Oak Borer) have infested sycamores and many other varieties of trees, posing a threat to avocado trees and other segments of California agriculture.

Caltrans Public Information Officer Rick Estrada explains how his part of the state is responding to tree mortality: