Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Winter Driving Tips

Most of the year we enjoy bee-yoo-ti-ful weather here in sunny Southern California, but as temps these past few days indicate, that doesn’t mean we don’t get some cold, snowy, crummy driving conditions, particularly on I-5 in north Los Angeles County, SR-39 and SR-2. The best course of action is to stay off the roads in bad weather, but if you must drive, here are some tips that can help you do it safely:
* Use the Caltrans QuickMap to check road conditions, road work, chain control, cameras, and CHP information before you leave. You can also call 511 or visit

* Fill up your gas tank before you leave.

* Drive as conditions permit — slower acceleration, slower speeds, and slower braking in winter weather. Leave extra room between you and the vehicle in front of you.

* Use headlights (not just parking or fog lights) in foggy, rainy and snowy weather. You MUST have your lights on when using your wipers — it’s the law.
* If you get stuck, stay with your vehicle and wait for help.

* If visibility diminishes to the point that you no longer feel safe driving, don’t stop in traffic lanes. Try to use the closest ramp.

* Bring water, food, warm clothing, sturdy shoes/boots and medications.
Also: a charged cell phone, car cell phone charger, and battery-operated radio.

* Make sure your vehicle is running well. Check your coolant, brakes, windshield wipers, defroster/heater and exhaust systems. 

* If traveling to mountain areas, carry chains between October and April, even if it’s not snowing. Weather can be unpredictable. 

* Never play in the snow next to or on the roadway. Don’t allow sleds to slide onto the road. Don’t play in the snow on private property.

* Black ice can be nearly invisible, so reduce your speeds during and after it snows, especially in turns or shady areas.

* Make room for Caltrans equipment, CHP vehicles, and all emergency responders. Stay clear of plows.

* Slow down, bring patience, and be courteous. Use turnouts if you’re holding up traffic.

* Never drink and drive or text and drive. EVER.

For more information about driving through the Grapevine/Tejon Pass in snowy weather, check out the Operation Snowflake Guide.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Operation Fog: Staying Safe When Visbility is Low

If you’ll be driving to visit friends or relatives this holiday season, you may encounter fog. With California’s fog season upon us, Caltrans and the CHP have teamed up to help alert drivers on how to stay safe when visibility is low. Every year, thick fog is a factor in more than 38,000 collisions across the United States — causing more than 600 deaths and more than 15,000 injuries. 

Check out the video below to see how Caltrans uses real-time weather monitoring equipment to trigger automated warning signs that alert drivers of limited visibility, while the California Highway Patrol dispatches pace units to slow traffic down and save lives when visibility is less than 500 feet. 

Wherever this season's travels take you, buckle up, turn your cell phone off, and don't drink and drive. Happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

U.S. DOT Sends Financial Aid to California Flood Areas

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced the immediate availability of $2 million in Emergency Relief funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to help the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) cover the costs of repairing roads damaged by flash floods and related mudslides throughout the state in recent days.    

“Heavy rains throughout the state, and particularly in Marin and Ventura Counties, caused significant road damage,” said Secretary Foxx. “With more heavy rain expected over the next few days, these emergency funds will help state officials get needed repairs made more quickly so the many affected area residents can get up and running again.”

A series of heavy rainfalls resulted in flash floods over the last week in northern and southern parts of the state, causing significant problems for roads – including erosion, mudslides and accumulated roadway debris. State officials estimate repair costs at more than $24 million though, with additional rains expected in the next few days, that estimate is expected to climb.

"We are working closely with Caltrans and will do everything we can to help them restore full access to the many roads affected,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau. "Though additional payments may be made in the weeks and months ahead, all of us at FHWA consider this a down payment on the work needed now and in the weeks ahead.”

Funds from FHWA's Emergency Relief Program will reimburse the state for emergency work done in the immediate aftermath of the flooding. The agency will provide additional funds as permanent repairs are identified and cost estimates are completed. FHWA's Emergency Relief program provides funds for the repair or reconstruction of federal-aid roads and bridges damaged by natural disasters or catastrophic events.

The Worst Day to Fly

For those of you who will find yourself in an airport soon jetting off to see your family and friends for the holidays, this post is for you. Why is Caltrans posting about the worst day to fly? Doesn't Caltrans concern itself with surface transportation? Mostly, yes.* But many of you will be driving to the airport (surface transportation!), and if you know which days are busiest at airports, you might leave some extra time to get there (hint, hint). Also, don't we all want to know what the worst days to fly are? Of course we do! Consider this a public service.

Get ready for some myth-busting. Contrary to popular belief, the worst day to fly is NOT the day before Thanksgiving. The three worst days to fly in 2013, according to operations data from the FAA, were the three Thursdays after the Fourth of July in the following order, starting with the busiest: July 18, 25 and 11. The day before Thanksgiving ranked 27th.

The FOURTH worst day to fly in 2013 was the Friday before Christmas, which this year is this Friday, December 19. With so many people flying, expect check-in to take longer and security lines to be longer, and again, leave plenty of time to get to the airport. Use the Caltrans QuickMap to get real-time traffic info and plan your route so you don't miss your flight. Better yet, take transit. Happy travels! 

* Caltrans has a Division of Aeronautics that, among many other functions, permits and inspects heliports and is involved in aviation system planning. Learn more about it here

Monday, December 15, 2014

Mud Slides Close Pacific Coast Highway (SR-1)

UPDATE 12/31/2014 - The highway is expected to remain closed till late-January as crews continue to remove rocks and debris, survey slide areas, and repair damaged sections of the roadway.

UPDATE 12/28/2014 - The highway is expected to remain closed till mid-January 2015. 

Last week’s heavy rains caused twelve to fifteen mud, rock, and debris slides along Pacific Coast Highway (SR-1) requiring the closure of the highway between Yerba Buena Road and Las Posas Road near Point Mugu, west of Malibu.  The mud came from the May 2013 Springs Fire burn area.   The highway is expected to remain closed for three to four weeks.  No motorists or cyclists will be permitted access. 

More slides are expected from additional storms along the coast.  A contractor has been hired to remove the mud and debris, re-position K-rails that were displaced by mud slides, and repair highway shoulders and rip rap that were damaged or washed out.  At some locations highway is covered in 4 to 6 feet of mud.

Friday, December 12, 2014

New Series of Mudslides Close PCH Between Malibu and Oxnard

Northbound and southbound State Route 1 is once again closed between Las Posas Road and Yerba Buena Road between Malibu and Oxnard (see map below) where significant slides closed the road earlier this month.  

The exact time of reopening is unknown but it is expected to take four-to-five days to repair the road. Union Engineers is the contractor working on the repairs. 

Motorists are being detoured onto U.S. Highway 101, canyon roads and other state highways.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I-5 Truck Lane and Freeway Widening Project is Now Done!

Caltrans District 7 Chief Deputy Director Shirley Choate (with scissors) cuts the ribbon on the truck lane project with some help from elected officials and representatives from Metro, CHP and the Golden State Gateway Coalition.

Hundreds of thousands of motorists will now enjoy reduced congestion and enhanced safety on a segment of I-5 in Santa Clarita thanks to the completion of the truck lane and freeway widening project.

The $67 million project, which began construction in May 2012, has added a fifth mixed-flow lane to northbound I-5 between State Route 14 and the Gavin Canyon undercrossing, a distance of 1.4 miles. The 3.7 miles of southbound I-5 improvements include a fifth mixed-flow lane between Pico Canyon Road/Lyons Avenue and a half-mile south of Gavin Canyon, and a new segment of truck lane that begins north of Weldon Canyon and merges with the existing truck lane north of the SR-14 connector. New median and outside retaining walls were also built to accommodate the widening.

More than 216,000 vehicles use this segment of I-5 every day, including 19,000 trucks, many of them traveling to or from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. The new truck lane segment separates slower moving trucks from faster passenger vehicles on the steep grade in the area, reducing congestion and enhancing safety in all lanes.

Click the image below to read the press release.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Structure Fire Damages/Closes Sections of I-110

Northbound Interstate-110 was closed from Interstate 10 to US Highway 101 due to a structure fire on Temple and Fremont in downtown Los Angeles. The fire began at 1:21 a.m.

The fire damaged an overhead sign structure, pavement markers, bridge joints and guard rail. Caltrans Maintenance crews are removing the sign panel. There is no structural damage to the pavement. It is safe to travel under the truss, but work is being done when traffic load is lighter. An emergency contract with Peterson-Chase is in place and these crews will work tonight to place K-rail and remove the truss. NB 110 will be fully closed tonight at I-10 from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. with the freeway re-opening by 5 a.m.

Lanes 1 through 3 re-opened on NB 110 at 9 a.m. The connector from NB 110 to NB 101 is open; NB 110 to SB 101 remains closed but is expected to re-open at 5 p.m. The collector road adjacent to NB 101 is closed at 6th Street. 

Update 12/9 - All lanes of northbound I-110 opened at 5 a.m. on Tuesday, December 9.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Caltrans has re-evaluated the three mud slides between Las Posas Road and Yerba Buena Road (9 miles) on Pacific Coast Highway (SR-1) and has determined that the highway could open to all motorists by late Thursday, December 4. 

To re-open the highway, repair crews will unpin and remove concrete barriers (K-rails) to remove mud and debris trapped in the debris basins.  Debris and mud will spill across the highway when the K-rails are removed. Crews will then clear drain inlets and wash away mud on the highway. 

On Sunday, November 30, heavy rains along SR-1 caused mud and debris washed down from the May 2013 Springs Fire burn area to slide across and block the highway.  The mud and debris quickly filled debris basins, blocked storm drains, and spilled over the K-rails in three places between Las Posas Road and Yerba Buena Road.  There were no reports of injured motorists and there has been no damage to the pavement. 

Union Engineering Inc. of Ventura, California was awarded this $2 million emergency repair contract.

Motorists should continue to consider alternate routes and visit for traffic conditions.  The California Highway Patrol will be on duty.  Please Be Work Zone Alert. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Mudslides Close Nine-Mile Stretch of Pacific Coast Highway

To ensure the safety of motorists, a nine-mile stretch of Pacific Coast Highway (SR-1) remains closed in both directions this morning after rockslides and mudflows left tons of debris on the roadway in the wake of heavy rainfall on Sunday, Nov. 30. The closed segment extends from Yerba Buena Road to Las Posas Road (see map below), between Malibu and Oxnard, an area that was hard hit by the Springs Fire in 2013.

Caltrans maintenance, traffic and geotechnical personnel are on site. Cleanup efforts continue. It is currently unclear when the road will be reopened. Forecasted rain could extend the closure. While SR-1 remains closed, you may want to use US 101 as your alternate route. Heading northbound on PCH, electronic message signs are directing motorists to use Kanan Dume Road to access US 101.