Monday, November 14, 2011

We Don't Just Maintain the Roads, We Fix Them

In the old days, Caltrans Maintenance workers had to be able to fix just about anything the road could dish out. Those skills are called for less often in the Time of Contractors, when virtually all paving projects are put out for bid.

District 7 would like to change that, both to ensure that road building knowledge is preserved and to afford Maintenance employees enhanced opportunities. To this end, the district has begun performing its own paving operations where possible.

“In the rural districts, they really do everything,” said Dan Freeman, District 7 Deputy Director of Maintenance. “Because we are in an urban area, our folks spend most of their time with more mundane work such as filling potholes and repairing guardrail.”

Maintenance Manager Alphonso Sanchez said employees have performed five paving jobs so far on I-5 and I-10, improving the freeway and saving taxpayer dollars. Training is on the job, with the more experienced workers teaching the others.

On various recent operations, crews have had the chance to use concrete saws, backhoes with jackhammers and various cement finishing tools.

“By the third time around, they looked like pros out there,” said East Region Manager Alphonso Sanchez, who is spearheading the effort. “I am really proud of those guys.”

Do-it-ourselves paving work not only sharpens and augments employees’ skills but allows for a more immediate response to pavement issues.

“We are teaching our people how to do an even better job of serving the public,” Freeman said.