Thursday, April 25, 2013

Flags Lowered for Two of Caltrans Fallen Family Members

Today flags at the Caltrans District 7 District Office were lowered in honor of two of Caltrans fallen family members.

Shawn Baker, 50, of Weed, and Joseph “Robert” Jones, 40, of Montague, died yesterday during a rock scaling operation to stabilize a slope on Highway 96, west of Yreka, in Northern California.

Baker was a 12-year veteran of the department and Jones worked for Caltrans for seven years.  Kevin Skillen, a Caltrans equipment operator, is being treated for injuries at a Medford, OR area hospital. 

Baker is survived by his wife, Tammie, and four children, Quinton, Weston, Mariah and Hilary.  Jones is survived by his wife, Shannon, his mother, Marty Mangrum, and three children, Michael, Daryl and Stephen.

Statewide, 180 Caltrans employees have been killed while on the job.  District 7 has lost 32 employees. 

In honor of Baker and Jones, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

It's a Huge Mess -- Litter-ally

Litter is still a major problem in California. Every year Caltrans spends millions of dollars and thousands of hours picking it up. Last year, on Earth Day, Caltrans picked up 2,533 cubic yards of litter--just on that one day! That much litter would fill 158 garbage trucks.

Today, April 25, is our Annual Litter Day, and all available Maintenance personnel are participating in litter removal. 

But we can't do it without you. Please, do not throw litter onto the road, which is not only unsightly but ends up in our drains and causes all kinds of havoc. 

Some statistics for District 7 (Los Angeles and Ventura Counties) Fiscal Year 2011/2012: 

  • 28,211 cubic yards litter picked up
  • 15,400 cubic yards debris removed
  • 3,324,535 square feet of graffiti painted out  
  • Graffiti costs $2,409,463 
  • Litter and Debris related costs $12 million

Is this really how you want your transportation dollars spent?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Caltrans Rides "To the Sea"!

If you were one of the 150,000 people who participated in CicLAvia “To the Sea” yesterday, we don’t need to tell you what a great event it was, drawing people from all over Southern California. For the uninitiated, CicLAvia closes streets to cars and makes them safe for people to walk, skate, play and ride a bike. For yesterday’s event, 15 miles of streets, stretching from Downtown LA to Venice Beach, were closed to traffic. 

Although many Caltrans staff have participated individually in past CicLAvias, for Sunday’s event, we got a group together. Here’s the Caltrans team in front of the District 7 Headquarters on Main Street: 

And here’s Caltrans District 7 Director Mike Miles at the kick-off press conference with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: 

So what’s Caltrans doing at a bike event? Isn't Caltrans focused on car-based transportation? Actually, our focus is mobility, and our “Complete Streets” policy requires that safe mobility be provided for all users, including bicyclists — even bicyclists on bikes bedecked with sequins and faux fur and toting powerful sound systems blaring '80s hits. 

Numerous projects now in construction have bike-friendly elements, such as the US 101 widening project and the Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement project, both of which will have bike paths.

We also work with cities and counties to provide funding for bike projects through the Department’s Bicycle Transportation Account (BTA). For 2013/2013, Caltrans has approved $11.9 million in funding for BTA projects.

But back to CicLAvia. The next one is June 23 and will run mostly on Wilshire from Downtown LA to Fairfax. It’s a great way to see the city up close and personal and the people who live in it, so get it on your calendar now. We'll see you there!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Long-Term Lane Closure on Victory Place/San Fernando Boulevard in Burbank

This fall, Caltrans will begin construction on a major I-5 improvement project in Burbank that will, among other things, widen the freeway to add a carpool lane, elevate the railroad, reconstruct the Burbank Boulevard bridge, and build a new interchange at Empire Avenue (more info is here). But before THAT work can begin, utilities need to relocated. Lots and lots of utilities: oil, water, fiber optics, sewer, gas, etc. 

To complete the work, crews need to take a lane of northbound Victory Place/San Fernando Boulevard between the Burbank Animal Shelter (adopt a pet!) and North California Street, shown here in red:

Here’s what you’ll see when you’re in the area, headed north on Victory Place just past the Animal Shelter: 

Drive a little further and you’ll see this:

And maybe this:

Crews will be working Monday through Saturday, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., through the fall, so please slooooow down and drive carefully. At least one northbound lane will be open at all times, and access to businesses will not be affected. More info is here.

Questions? Check out the I-5 website or call us on the I-5 Toll-Free Hotline at (855) 454-6335. Better yet, stop by the Burbank Recycle Center’s Earth Day event this Saturday (details here) and chat with us in person. We hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Caltrans Installing New Signs Statewide to Remind Motorists to “Move Over” for Highway Workers and Public Safety Officials

Caltrans workers and the California Highway Patrol will be out in force today on highways throughout the state installing and enforcing “Move Over” signs intended to help save lives and increase safety for motorists, highway workers, CHP officers and first responders.

The new signs will display the messages, “Move Over or Slow for Stopped Emergency and Maintenance Vehicles” and “Move Over or Slow When Amber Lights Flashing.” In addition, more than 700 existing electronic highway message signs statewide will display, “Move Over or Slow for Workers, It’s the Law.”

Highway construction and maintenance work is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. Since the 1924, 178 Caltrans employees have died while on the job.

Signs are being installed today at these locations:

•    Northbound Antelope Valley Freeway (SR-14) north of Via Princessa
•    Eastbound Glenn Anderson Freeway (I-105) east of San Diego Freeway (I-405)

The Move Over law, which took effect in 2007, was amended in 2009 to add Caltrans vehicles displaying flashing amber warning lights to the list of vehicles for which motorists must move over if safe to do so, or slow down.

Friday, April 12, 2013

From the Archives: A Blast from the Past on PCH (SR-1)

The pictures above were taken between 1923 and 1925 for the construction of the Pacific Coast Highway (SR-1) in Los Angeles County.  As you can see, some of the path of the SR-1 had to be blasted. 

In picture 414-05 (March 20, 1924), according to the engineer's journal, 24,675 pounds of black powder were used for the blast.

Celebrate Earth Day! Join Us at the Burbank Recycle Center!

Like live music? Gourmet food? Cool eco-friendly cars? Bikes? Gardening? If so, we have the perfect weekend event for you: the Burbank Recycle Center’s Earth Day celebration on Saturday, April 20, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. More info about this fun, family-friendly event is here. Caltrans will be there, too, providing information about our recycling efforts, “Complete Streets” program, drought-tolerant freeway landscaping and more. We’ll also have information about I-5 projects in the Burbank area. You can …

     > Pick up FAQs, project fact sheets & brochures.
     > Check out construction maps.
     > Talk one-on-one with staff.
     > Get free coloring books for children.
     > Sign up to receive project updates.
     > Submit comments to the construction team.

Event details:

When: Saturday, April 20, 2013, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where:    Burbank Recycle Center
              500 South Flower St.
              Burbank, CA 91502

We hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

PCH: Early Breakthoughs...Literally

Pacific Coast Highway (SR-1) at Point Mugu in October 1945.  Caltrans Library Archives.
The Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), also known as State Route 1, is a major tourist attraction that was created through several engineering feats that some have no idea ever occurred decades ago to connect most of California’s beaches.

You may have seen a movie or commercial at this location too.  All in all, it is an amazing site to see.

Both of the pictures were provided by the Caltrans Library in the Sacramento Headquarters.  PCH is owned, operated, and maintained by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).

PCH at Point Mugu on Jan. 16, 1939.  PCH used to go around the round rock. Caltrans Library Archives.