Friday, March 29, 2013

A Freeway Design Inspired By Aviation History

As you drive around southern California, you may have noticed that some freeway structures have a little something extra — a design of some sort rather than just plain ol’ concrete. Freeways have to be safe and functional first and foremost, but that doesn’t mean they can’t look good. Frequently, the Caltrans landscape team will look to local history for inspiration in developing designs for aesthetic details. For example, here’s the new northbound I-5/SR-170 connector, which will open in a few months:

For the design along the top of the bridge, Caltrans Landscape Associate Keith Sellers was inspired by the old Grand Central Air Terminal in Glendale near I-5 and Sonora Avenue: 

The terminal, which opened in 1929, is one of the last intact original structures associated with the Golden Age of Aviation in the San Fernando Valley. Howard Hughes, Amelia Earhart, Wiley Post, Will Rogers and Charles Lindbergh took off from here. Here’s a shot of the old control tower:

Take a good look at the design along the top of the wall:

Keith’s interpretation of the air terminal design now graces the I-5/SR-170 connector, which, appropriately enough, is a flyover connector.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Update on Schuyler Heim Bridge Replacement

Caltrans began constructing a $210 million replacement project for the Commodore Schuyler F. Heim Bridge in October 2011.

Built in 1946, the existing lift-span bridge is being replaced by a fixed-span structure that will conform to higher seismic  standards, enhancing safety. Additionally, replacing a deteriorated structure with a new one  also will reduce maintenance costs and lead to improved roadway connections in the future.

The bridge is being constructed in stages:
· Stage one, involving construction of the northbound portion over Cerritos Channel, has been completed.
· Stage two, where the project is now,  has shut down the  northbound half of the existing bridge, shifting traffic to the southbound section.
· Stage three will shift traffic to the newly-completed northbound bridge, demolish the remainder of the existing bridge and construct the southbound portion.
· Stages four, five and six will consist of finishing work.

The combined closures  will  reduce traffic to one lane for approximately a year and a half.  Project completion is anticipated in late 2016.

Motorists will be notified in advance of any impacts. For information and updates, please refer to the Caltrans website: or contact Public Affairs at 213-897-3487. You also may email us at to be added to our notifications list.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

You’re Invited: Public Hearing on the I-5 Toll Lanes

Caltrans and Metro are proposing a project that would construct high occupancy toll lanes (aka HOT lanes) in both directions of I-5 between SR-14 and Parker Road, a distance of 13.5 miles. Originally, the I-5 HOT lanes were HOV (aka carpool) lanes, but the HOV lane version of the project wouldn’t be completed until 2040 due to a funding shortfall. By building HOT lanes instead, construction could begin in 2015 and wrap up in 2019. Tolls would cover the funding shortfall.

No decision has been made on the proposal yet. Recently, two community meetings were held in the Santa Clarita area to provide info about the project. The next step in the process is a public hearing, which will be held next Thursday, March 28, at Santa Clarita City Hall. Details:

When: Thursday, March 28th, 2013, 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Where:  Council Chambers, City Hall
             City of Santa Clarita
             23920 Valencia Blvd.
             Santa Clarita, CA 91355
             Served by Santa Clarita Transit lines 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 and 14

The purpose of the hearing is to solicit public comments about the Supplemental Environmental Impact Report, which you can review here. The upshot of the report is the project will have no significant impact, but check it out for yourself and come let us know what you think.

If you can’t make it to the hearing, you can mail your comments by April 15, 2013, to:

            Ronald J. Kosinski, Deputy District Director
            Division of Environmental Planning
            California Department of Transportation, District 7
            100 South Main Street, MS-16A
            Los Angeles, CA 90012

More info about the proposal is here. We hope to see you at the hearing.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Another Overnight Closure of Northbound I-405

Construction of the carpool lane on the northbound San Diego Freeway (I-405) through the Sepulveda Pass will require a full freeway (northbound) from Getty Center Drive to the Ventura Freeway (U.S. 101) from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. on Sunday, March 24.

Ramp closures will begin as early as 7 p.m. and lane closures at 11 p.m. on Saturday, March 23. The closure is needed to erect temporary bridge structures related to reconstruction of the Mulholland Bridge. 

Sepulveda Boulevard will be available as a detour route. For detailed detour maps, please visit

The $1 billion carpool lane project, from the Santa Monica Freeway to U.S. 101, is a partnership between Caltrans and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. When completed next year, it will enable motorists to carpool in one continuous lane in both directions from north Los Angeles County to Orange County.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

LA Marathon: Freeway Ramp Closures

LA Marathon mural on I-5 near Stadium Way
Caltrans will close the following ramps for the 2013 Los Angeles Marathon:

Sunday, March 17
Hollywood Freeway (US 101)
• 3 a.m. to 10 a.m. – Northbound Spring Street, Grand Avenue and Glendale Boulevard off-ramps.

• 3 a.m. to 10 a.m. – Southbound Broadway and Temple Street off-ramps.

• 3:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. – North- and southbound Hollywood Boulevard off-ramps.

• 3:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. – One lane of north- and southbound Gower Street off-ramps.

• 3:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. – One lane of southbound Vine Street off-ramp.

• 4 a.m. to 12 p.m. – North- and southbound Highland Avenue off-ramps.

Arroyo Seco Parkway (SR-110)
• 3 a.m. to 10 a.m. – Southbound Sunset Boulevard, Stadium Way and Hill Street off-ramps.

• 3 a.m. to 10 a.m. – Northbound Stadium Way off-ramp.

San Diego Freeway (I-405)
• 4:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. – One lane of southbound Santa Monica Boulevard off-ramp.

An encroachment permit has been issued for these event-related closures.  Caltrans advises motorists to Slow For The Cone Zone and Move Over.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Southbound I-405 Full Freeway Closure set for March 9

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority(Metro) will close the southbound San Diego Freeway (I-405) on Saturday, March 9 between the Ventura Freeway (U.S. 101) and Getty Center Drive to implement temporary structures for construction of the new Mulholland Bridge.

Ramps within the four-mile closure might begin closing as early as 7 p.m. with freeway lane closures beginning at 11 p.m. The full freeway closure will be in effect from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. on Sunday, March 10, weather permitting.  

Work involves placing temporary plate girders for the bridge span on which the bridge deck will be built. The old bridge was demolished and a new one is being constructed as part of a new carpool lane project on northbound I-405 from the Santa Monica Freeway (I-10) to U.S. 101. When completed, there will be continuous carpool lanes in both directions of I-405 from north Los Angeles County to Orange County.

Sepulveda Boulevard will remain open during the closure to be used as a detour route. Detour maps are available at