Thursday, January 30, 2014

State Route 107 (Hawthorne Blvd.), A Freeway Never Built

State Route 107 also known as Hawthorne Boulevard located in the cities of Hawthorne, Lawndale, Torrance, and Lomita, is one of the many state highways and freeways that were planned in 1930s and 1940s for Los Angeles County, but were never built.

In the sixties different paths were proposed for SR-107.  SR-107 would have connected Pacific Coast Highway (SR-1) and the San Diego Freeway (I-405). 

As with many freeway projects at the time, there was opposition from city councils and communities in the path of the freeway.  Additionally, as much as the growth of the interstate was seen as an essential path to positive growth for California by some, the funding to sustain such growth of the state’s infrastructure started to decrease while the cost to build increased.


According to a Caltrans cost effectiveness study report in February 1974, District 7 decided that it was not possible continue to proceed with the construction of SR-107 and other freeways like due to the following reasons:
  1. The gap between the cost of the Highway Program and available revenues is widening rapidly.
  2. Many projects in the District 1973 Planning Program cannot be financed during the next 20 years.
  3. District 7 Planning Program should be reduced by over one-half.
  4. Downscoping and/or deferring some projects will result in improved system performance within the funding constraints by permitting other projects to be financed.
  5. Using the system engineering approach, a 20-year program guide is developed which contains projects that can be financed in a 20-year period and which would provide the optimum system performance for the dollar available.  
  6.  Completion of the Program Guide does not correct all the transportation deficiencies.
SR-107 aka Torrance Freeway aka Hawthorne Freeway dream never came into fruition. 
 

Caltrans still maintains and owns portions of the SR-107, but some portions have been relinquished to cities along the route.

HOV Striping Gets a Makeover



You may have noticed that HOV lanes are getting a new look: the striping that separates HOV lanes from regular lanes is now (or will be in the future) white instead of yellow, like this: 


Why the switch? In short, to comply with federal standards. Yellow striping is used to separate traffic moving in opposite directions, and white striping is used to separate traffic moving in the same direction — so says the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), which specifies the standards on such things as striping and signage in painstaking detail. Since HOV traffic travels in the same direction as traffic in the other lanes, the striping should be white, hence the switcheroo. 

Caltrans officially made the switch in 2010 as part of a much broader effort to adopt federal standards for HOV signage and pavement markings. Going forward, all HOV lanes will have white striping. So, the 53 miles of HOV lanes now under construction in District 7 will have white striping from the get-go. Existing yellow striping on the 443-mile HOV system in Los Angeles County will be replaced when it makes sense to do so — for example, when paving work requires restriping.

Friendly Reminder: Crossing double white or yellow HOV lines is prohibited — expect a $490 minimum fine for the first offense. (Yowch!) So stay put in the HOV lane ‘til you get to the broken white line, which indicates that entering and exiting the HOV lane is permitted.

Want more info about pavement markings? (And who doesn’t?) Check out the MUTCD, 2009 edition. Good stuff on HOV pavement markings is here.



Friday, January 24, 2014

Update - Closure on San Gabriel Canyon Road (SR-39) in Angeles National Forest



Today's Date: Friday, January 24, 2014
District 7: Los Angeles & Ventura Counties      
Contact: Patrick Chandler                                
Phone: 213-897-3630

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Update - Closure on San Gabriel Canyon Road (SR-39) in Angeles National Forest

Los Angeles – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) continues to restrict access to San Gabriel Canyon Road (SR-39) in the Angeles National Forest due to falling rocks and debris in the Colby Fire burn area along the highway.  The closure is expected to be lifted by Sunday, January 26.   Only residents and business owners will be permitted access.

Caltrans is in the process of hiring a contractor to place nearly one mile of concrete barriers (k-rail) topped with fencing to prevent rocks and other debris from falling onto the highway.  The contractor is expected to start placing k-rails on the highway at 4 a.m. on Saturday, January 25.  Caltrans crews will continue to patrol the area to remove any slide materials from the highway.

Caltrans reminds motorists to Slow For The Cone Zone and Move Over. It’s the law.

###

Closures on Pacific Coast Highway (SR-1) and Topanga Canyon Boulevard (SR-27) for Maintenance

Caltrans maintenance crew paving along PCH.
Caltrans will close portions of SR-1 and SR-27 for maintenance on the followings days, times, and locations:

SR-27 - Monday, January 27, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
A flagging operation will be in place on the highway near Happy Trail for repaving.  Motorists should expect delays and consider alternate routes.

SR-1 – Monday, February 3, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
One northbound lane will be closed south of Entrada Drive in Santa Monica for metal beam guardrail repair.

Caltrans reminds motorists to Slow For The Cone Zone and Move Over. It’s the law.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Closure on San Gabriel Canyon Road (SR-39) in Angeles National Forest

Caltrans continues to restrict access to San Gabriel Canyon Road (SR-39) in the Angeles National Forest due to falling rocks and debris in the Colby Fire burn area along the highway.  The closure is expected to be lifted by Saturday, January 25.  Closures are subject to change.  Only residents and business owners will be permitted access.

Caltrans is in the process of hiring a contractor to place nearly one mile of concrete barriers (k-rail) topped with fencing to prevent rocks and other debris from falling onto the highway north of Azusa.  Caltrans crews will continue to patrol the area to remove any slide materials from the highway.

The k-rail and fencing configuration is similar to what Caltrans is using along Pacific Coast Highway (SR-1) near Mugu Rock in the Springs Fire burn area.



Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Night Closures on I-5 in Arleta



There are a couple of night closures of I-5 between SR-170 and SR-118 in January and February that we’d like to remind you about. Both are related to the carpool lane project in the area.

Between the I-5/SR-170 Interchange and Sheldon Street

Ongoing through February 2014, crews will continue transferring material and constructing the new I-5/SR-170 HOV connector. For the safety of motorists, this work requires intermittent night closures (11 p.m. to 4 a.m.) of southbound I-5 between the I-5/SR-170 interchange and Sheldon Street. Here’s the detour:


 Between SR-118 and Van Nuys Boulevard

Through early February 2014, crews will demolish the existing median barrier on I-5 between Van Nuys Boulevard and SR-118. For the safety of motorists, this work must be conducted at night (8 p.m. to 6 a.m.). The two lanes closest to the median, on both sides of the freeway, will be closed during the night work. Here’s a map of the construction/closure zone:


More info about both of these closures is available on the I-5 website. 

Closure information for this and other freeway projects is available on the Caltrans website

For real-time traffic information, visit quickmap.dot.ca.gov, go511.com, or call 5-1-1.



Friday, January 17, 2014

On the Job with Caltrans: Underwater Bridge Inspectors

Today is the 20th anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake, which has many people recalling the collapse of the I-5/SR-14 connector and thinking about seismic retrofitting and bridge safety. Bridge safety is something we think about every day at Caltrans. We regularly inspect 24,000 bridges in California, 800 of which pass over water and require underwater bridge inspections so that we can assess the condition of the submerged portions of the bridge.

To complete the underwater inspections, Caltrans has a team of highly trained bridge inspectors who are also certified commercial hardhat divers. This is nothing like SCUBA diving for fun on vacation. These divers work in cold, murky water among sunken trucks and abandoned shopping carts painstakingly examining steel and concrete. It's a difficult, dangerous and necessary job that helps ensure the safety of the millions of motorists who use California's freeways and highways every day. 

Check out the video below to see the Caltrans dive team in action.


 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Northridge 20, Caltrans Responds, Jan. 17, 1994 - Jan. 17, 2014

 
Caltrans engineers have learned lessons from every major seismic event and continue to refine that knowledge today. Caltrans’ retrofit program after the Sylmar earthquake was limited to tying structures together using restrainers at the bridge joints.  By the mid-1980’s, additional seismic retrofit methods were researched and developed and our knowledge of the effects of seismic activity continued to evolve.

Caltrans Seismic Retrofit Program.

After the Northridge quake, California’s Seismic Activity Board reported that the 60 bridges retrofitted in the Los Angeles area during the 1980’s performed well. Since then, our work to strengthen the state’s aging bridges has continued and today we have completed retrofitting more than 2,200 bridges on the state highway system. While recognizing that bridges will likely be damaged by significant quake activity, the goal of our seismic retrofit program is to preserve life by preventing bridge collapse. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Northbound Glendale Freeway (SR-2) To Northbound Golden State Freeway (I-5) Connector Open

video

Today's Date:      January 10, 2014   
District 7:         Los Angeles & Ventura Counties      
Contact:         Patrick Chandler       
Phone:         213-897-3630       

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Northbound Glendale Freeway (SR-2) To Northbound Golden State Freeway (I-5) Connector Open

Los Angeles – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) today announced that the repair project for the tanker fire damaged northbound SR-2 to northbound I-5 connector which began on November 2 is finished and the connector is now open to all motorists.  The connector opened to all motorists at 10:30 a.m. 

The overall cost of repairs, which includes the initial emergency response, is currently estimated at $16.5 million.  The state will be reimbursed by the Federal Highway (FHWA) Emergency Relief Program. 

“From day one, from the fire to the completion of the construction project, this has been a great a testament of what public agencies can do,” said Acting District 7 Director Carrie Bowen. “Through a strong partnership between Caltrans and the contractor, and federal and local agencies, we were able to cut through the red tape to return this link in our transportation system back to the public.”

The following solutions were used to repair the connector:

  • Hydrodemolition removed any degraded concrete from the surface of the structure.
  • Shotcrete a concrete slurry was sprayed at a high velocity to fill damaged voids.
  • Epoxy injections helped seal cracks in the concrete and provide additional strength to the structure.
  • Carbon fiber wrapping added strength to the outrigger beams on the north side of the connector.
  • Portland concrete cement was used to repave the damaged roadway.
  • Upgraded the connector’s lighting, metal beam guardrail, and added anti-graffiti coated paint.
The intense heat from a tanker fire on July 13 caused extensive damage to the pavement, walls, support structures, drainage, and lighting within the northbound SR-2/northbound I-5 connector tunnel, requiring it to be closed. 

During the incident all lanes of northbound I-5 near the connector had to remain closed for nearly two days as crews erected temporary support beams inside of the connector to support the freeway.  Caltrans was able to safely re-open I-5 by the morning commute on July 15.

C.A. Rasmussen, Inc. or Valencia, California was awarded the contract for this repair project.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Preserving Animal Habitats Through Critter Crossings



For motorists, a freeway is a way to get from Point A to Point B (usually) quickly and safely. But for the wildlife whose habit is fragmented by roadways, a freeway is a barrier — a barrier that constrains migration, limits food supplies, and threatens biodiversity. Recognizing the challenges that freeways can create for animal populations, Caltrans continues to look for ways to mitigate impacts on wildlife, which you can read about here and here.  

And here. The LA Times today has an interesting article about how US 101 (and the Pacific Ocean and agricultural fields) are constraining the mountain lion population in the Santa Monica mountains. Caltrans Senior Environmental Planner Barbara Marquez was interviewed for the story. 

Currently, Caltrans is seeking funding for a study that would examine alternatives for constructing a wildlife crossing across US 101 at Liberty Canyon, which is part of an important wildlife corridor connecting the Santa Susana Mountains and the Santa Monica Mountains. 

What sort of alternatives would the study look at? Possibly a tunnel, an overcrossing, fencing, or most likely, some combination of strategies. Here's an example of a culvert used as a wildlife crossing across SR-23, a strategy that has proven effective in reducing mortality rates at this location:


And here's some raccoons, also using an SR-23 culvert: 


Caltrans cleans out the culverts regularly to ensure that animals can get through. Here's an example of a beautiful wildlife overcrossing in Canada's Banff National Park over the Trans-Canada Highway:


Once funding is secured for the Liberty Canyon study and an appropriate solution is selected and designed, the next major hurdle will be to get funding for construction.

For more information on wildlife crossings, check out “critter crossings” on the Federal Highway Administration site.