Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ask Caltrans: Why does Caltrans sweep the freeways during the day?

Sweeper train on southbound I-110 (Harbor Freeway)
You’ve probably wondered why our maintenance crews sweep during the day.  Well, it is for your safety and ours. 

Caltrans sweeping operations highways and freeway are generally scheduled once a month.  Anytime crews sweep a high occupancy vehicle (HOV) or carpool lane, or a center median they start after 9:00 a.m. and in the direction opposite of the morning rush.  The crews will generally start sweeping on the inbound side of a freeway after the rush around noon. Some crews sweep at night on highways and freeways that have low traffic volumes. 

Sweeping at night can be unsafe for motorists and our crews. During the day it is easier for motorists to see the Caltrans and CHP vehicles in the “sweeper train” (pictured) and it is easier for our crews to avoid impaired drivers, see pieces of metal, or other traffic hazards alongside the freeway or highway.

Sweeper trains generally consist of a (from front to back) pick-up truck, sweeper, back-up or shadow truck with an attenuator (crash cushion), and an advanced warning sign truck.  While the sweeper train is moving, a single maintenance worker will throw large debris into the back of the pick-up that the sweepers cannot pick up.  One or two CHP vehicles will be inside of the train as well. 

Occasionally, maintenance crews will request MAZEEP (Maintenance Zone Enhanced Enforcement Program) support from the CHP to create a traffic break to safely remove dangerous debris from the roadway. 

Caltrans requests you observe and obey the Move Over law which requires you to move over or slow down while Caltrans is working on the freeways or highways.