Monday, December 28, 2015

Floodcast Prepares Caltrans For Real-Life Crises

With El Niño expected to bring significant storms to California in 2016, Caltrans is focusing on preparedness for emergency response. One of the ways the department prepares is by conducting simulations of natural disasters, which tell us what we're doing well and identify areas that would benefit from additional attention. In the video below, you'll go behind the scenes of Floodcast 2015, a drill that simulated a 1,000-year storm.

Speaking of storms, are you ready for El Niño? Visit to find out what you need to do to be prepared. Remember: be aware, be prepared, take action!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

District 7 Volunteer Day at the LA Regional Food Bank

On an early Saturday morning, a group of District 7 employees and family members gathered at the LA Regional Food Bank's warehouse to help sort and package produce in support of an organization that fights hunger in our communities. In a span of three hours, our group sorted through over 45,000 pounds of produce, enough to feed 37,900 people in Los Angeles County for the week.

Since 1973, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank has distributed more than 1 billion pounds of food and provides food to 320,500 people monthly. You can help fulfill the mission of the
Los Angeles Regional Food Bank by visiting their website and learning about volunteer opportunities or making a donation.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Progress at Las Tunas State Beach Wave Breaker in Malibu

Heavy equipment pushes rocks onto the slopes to build the wave breaker. 
Since October 28, Caltrans' contractor, Nordic Industries has completed a lot of work to protect the slopes along Pacific Coast Highway (SR-1) on Las Tunas State Beach.  So far the contractor has:
  • Built a key way (dirt ramp) to access the beach
  • Built a temporary rock cofferdam
  • Removed loose materials from the damaged slope
  • Begun to build the rock slope protection
  • Delivered and placed hundreds of cubic yards of boulders, some weighing 14-tons.   
The construction crews base their work hours on the tides when working on the beach. 

While this project is underway, the beach/construction site is off limits to cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists.  Trespassers could be cited by law enforcement officers. 

All of this work has been permitted by the Los Angeles County Beaches and Harbors Department, California Coastal Commission, and the Army Corps of Engineers. 

Remember, Be Work Zone Alert.   

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

“25K Find a New Way” Innovation Contest Finalists Announced

This Solar-Powered Titanium Bridge Inspector Robot was not one of the finalists.
Back in August, Caltrans and two other state agencies announced the "$25K Find a New Way" innovation contest to improve government operations. The intent is to provide an opportunity for Californians to identify areas of improvement within state government and share their untapped expertise to create solutions. Each department has $25,000 to award. Submissions were due by October 13, 2015.

We asked for your ideas, and you didn't disappoint us! Caltrans is pleased to announce that more than 600 entries were received. After carefully reviewing all submissions, the following finalists were selected: 

Advance Directional Signs: Alter or add directional signs to give motorists more time to change lanes before merging.

Caltrans Freeway League: A digital space for Californians to develop successful commuting strategies, focused on safety and efficiency. 

Diverging Diamonds: An intersection configuration designed to provide easier merging while making wrong-way ramp access more difficult.

Gawker Blocker: A portable screen to obscure distracting activity from drivers’ views.

More Visibility for Caltrans Workers: Employ highly reflective, collapsible devices to increase the visibility of roadway workers.

Movable Dividers: Move center dividers to give commute direction more capacity in morning and evening hours.

Off-Peak Toll Discounts: Reduce fees for commercial vehicles that operate during off-peak hours.

Staggered Workday Hours: Employ several workday shifts to reduce commute congestion.

The winner will be announced before December 31, 2015. More information about the contest is here.

Communities Helping Communities: Bike-Ped case studies from FHWA

Wondering how committed transportation departments are to ensuring that pedestrians and cyclists are part of the US's transportation future? 

 Check out this out! 

The Federal Highway Administration recently released Case Studies in Delivering Safe, Comfortable, and Connected Pedestrian and Bicycle Networks

Be sure to check out FHWA's blog Fast Lane

State and federal funds have been allocated to support California's cycling and pedestrian infrastructure via the Active Transportation Program (ATP). To learn more about ATP projects statewide or in your community, visit:

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

From the Inbox: “Why Doesn’t Caltrans Add More Lanes?”

Every few weeks we get a call or email from an exasperated motorist—usually someone who recently was stuck in a time-sucking backup—wanting to know why Caltrans doesn’t add more lanes to existing freeways or build new freeways to reduce congestion. The thinking goes that if freeways had more lanes, traffic wouldn’t be so bad.

Seems logical enough, except it doesn’t work. Numerous studies have examined the effectiveness of this approach and consistently shown that adding capacity does not reduce congestion. On the contrary, it actually increases vehicle miles traveled (VMT).

How can that possibly be? Here’s a three-word answer: supply and demand. When congestion is reduced, the “cost” of driving drops, which is to say, it takes less time. And what happens when prices go down? More people buy! In other words, people drive more, effectively erasing any initial reduction in congestion realized by increasing capacity. This is known as induced congestion.

VMT increases because some people decide to switch to driving from other modes, such as transit. They may be less likely to combine trips or commute outside peak hours. They may even move farther away from work and school, requiring longer trips.

If the futility of adding lanes seems counterintuitive, here’s the part of this discussion that will really blow your mind: reducing capacity can provide social and economic benefits without increasing congestion. Cities in Europe have closed streets in central business districts to spur economic revitalization, and US cities are adopting this strategy as well.

While there are no plans to close any freeways or highways in District 7, Caltrans is increasingly focusing on fixing existing roads and encouraging bicycling, walking and mass transit. Occasionally, adding lanes and building new roadways will be necessary, but such projects will only be undertaken very strategically.

Want to learn more about induced congestion? Check out UC Davis Professor Susan Handy’s excellent and informative brief on this topic here.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Holiday Driving 101: Top Tips to Get You There Quickly and Safely

The Christmas/New Year holiday period is among the busiest long-distance travel periods of the year. The number of long-distance trips (50 miles or more) increases by 23 percent, compared to the average for the remainder of the year. Although media stories often focus on air travel, 91 percent of holiday travel is by car. (No data is available for sleigh travel.)

There’s a good chance that you’ll be part of that 91%. Are you prepared? Are you ready to deal with any and all conditions you may encounter on California’s 15,000 miles of freeways and highways? Do you know how to get reliable information about traffic incidents, backups and chain controls? Are you holiday driving savvy? If you have three minutes, you soon will be! Check out the video below for tips on avoiding travel headaches and getting to your destination safely.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Driving Tips

The Thanksgiving holiday is one of the busiest travel periods of the year. To help you get to your holiday destination as easily at possible, Caltrans is suspending construction closures from Wednesday, November 25, at 6 a.m. through Sunday, November 29, at midnight. Enjoy your construction-cone-free four-day weekend!*

And, because we're in a Thanksgiving mood, we're also going to give you a heaping serving of holiday driving tips! Yes, you DO have room:

+ Driving is a complex task, requiring your full attention. Anything that diverts your eyes or attention from the roadway, even for one or two seconds, could result in tragedy. Stay off your phone!

+ The law is explicit: Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or more is illegal, but a driver with a lower BAC may also be a hazard and taken to jail.

+ Prepare for potential inclement weather by leaving early and allowing plenty of time to get where you’re going. Make sure your gas tank is full. Always leave ample distance between your vehicle and the one ahead of you.

+ If you’re heading to mountain country or anywhere you may encounter snow, bring chains, chain tighteners, and warm, waterproof clothing. Other items that may prove useful: flares, flashlight and strong batteries, small shovel, windshield scraper, blankets, drinking water and snacks.

+ Check the Caltrans QuickMap to get real-time traffic info before you leave. 511 is another terrific resource. Keep in mind that many people will be returning from holiday travels on Sunday afternoon and evening, so plan your route carefully and leave extra time.

A very happy Thanksgiving from the Caltrans family to yours! And remember, those who cook do not clean up. 

*Unplanned closures may be implemented, such as those required for accident response and emergency maintenance operations.

Employees Say Goodbye To Heim Bridge

The U.S. Navy Commodore Schuyler F. Heim Bridge (SR-47/SR-103) is one of three bridges (Vincent Thomas and Gerald Desmond) that serves Los Angeles and Long Beach and their corresponding ports, tenants, and motorists.  Along with the Heim’s 67-years of service, several Caltrans employees have spent large portions of their careers lifting and maintaining the bridge.

Now that the bridge is slowly being cut to pieces and being hauled away as scrap metal, many of our maintenance, environmental, and engineering employees are sad to this magnificent steel structure go.  We hope you enjoy.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Caltrans' New Landslide Tracker

Last Chance Grade on US 101 in Del Norte County.
Southern California is no stranger to slides, as last month’s mudslide that closed the Grapevine demonstrates. That was a relatively unusual occurrence. Not so for a four-mile segment of US 101 known as Last Chance Grade. Located in Del Norte County, 10 miles south of Crescent City, Last Chance Grade is an area of highway prone to geological activity. A 2000 geological study conducted by the California Geological Survey mapped over 200 active slides within the corridor area.

The slide activity is a serious concern because there’s no viable alternative route in the event of a complete failure of the roadway due to a landslide. Without a detour, residents could be cut off from medical care, schools and other important services, and the economic impacts would be devastating

A new highway alignment will be constructed eventually that will offer a permanent solution to instability and potential roadway failure. In the meantime, the department has begun using a new, advanced, and multi-faceted system to monitor landslide activity at Last Chance Grade. Check out the video below to see how this sophisticated system works. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Las Tunas State Beach Wave Breaker Project along PCH (SR-1) in Malibu

Monday, our contractor, Nordic Industries began delivering 6 to 10-ton boulders along with thousands of cubic yards of smaller rocks to build an access slope down to the beach to repair the eroded slopes at Las Tunas State Beach in Malibu. 

Watch as this heavy equipment operator places each boulder into place (this video actually took place over two minutes): 
Access to this area is not permitted.  

(In case you missed it)
Project press release: 

News Release
Today's Date: October 22, 2015
District 7: Los Angeles & Ventura counties
Contact: Patrick Chandler
Phone: 213-897-3656


Wave Breaker Construction and Shoreline Restoration Begins 
Along Pacific Coast Highway (SR-1) 

MALIBU – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will begin constructing a wave breaker (rock slope protection) and restoring the shoreline on the ocean side slopes of Las Tunas Canyon Beach along eastbound Pacific Coast Highway (SR-1) east of Big Rock Road on Wednesday, October 28.  The 1,600 foot-long and 20 to 30 feet-tall wave breaker will protect slopes and shoreline that were eroded by high tides that were caused by hurricanes in Mexico last September.  The erosion could potentially undermine the highway.  The project is expected to finish in April 2016.

The majority of construction will be performed behind temporary concrete barriers.  When lanes closures are necessary, one lane in each direction will be closed between Pena Road and Big Rock Drive, during the day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and if night work occurs, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday through Friday.  The contractor expects to work Monday through Sunday.  Additionally, work hours and duration will be affected by the tide and possible El Niño related storms.

Motorists and residents should expect occasional delays on the highway and noise from heavy equipment and boulders being dumped to build the wave breaker.  The majority of work will take place behind concrete barriers along the highway and the construction area will be unavailable to cyclists and pedestrians.  

To protect utility lines from large waves a smaller 50 foot-wide concrete wave breaker was constructed within the limits of this project last September. 

Nordic Industries of Olivehurst, California was awarded this $8.2 million contract that is funded by the State Highway Operation and Protection Program.
Remember to Be Work Zone Alert.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

LA River Bike Path Detour to be Implemented Nov. 16

WHAT’S HAPPENING: Closure of a one-mile segment of the Los Angeles River Bike Path.

WHERE: The Los Angeles River Bike Path between Riverside Drive and just south of the SR-134 overcrossing in the City of Los Angeles.

WHEN: The closure will be in place November 16-18, 2015.

WHY: The bike path in this area passes through an active freeway construction zone where bridge widening is underway. The closure is a safety measure to protect bike path users.

DETOUR: A signed detour is posted that directs bike path users to Zoo Drive and Western Heritage Way. See map above or view the detour on an interactive map here.

ABOUT THE PROJECT: This $116 million project is adding 2.7 miles of carpool lanes in each direction between the SR-134 and Magnolia Boulevard in the cities of Burbank and Glendale. The project will be completed in 2017. Information about the project is here.

Construction and closure schedules are subject to change.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Commodore Schuyler F. Heim Lift Bridge Last Days

Cutter used to dismantle steel tresses.

The demolition of the historic, 67 year-old Commodore Schuyler Heim (Steel) Lift bridge (SR-47/SR-103) is well underway.

he tresses that once stood over the north- and southbound lanes are gone.  Wrecking crews are cutting the lift section of the bridge into pieces.
The 400 hundred-ton counter-weights will be broken down into small pieces, and the big green steel twin towers will be cut down and recycled. 
Opened in 1948, designed by the Division of Highways (as Caltrans was known before 1973) and built by the U.S. Navy, the SR-47 lift-span bridge will be replaced by a fixed span, concrete structure that will conform to higher seismic standards to enhance safety, and benefit the local, state and national economy, and international trade.   Additionally, replacing a deteriorating structure with a new one will also reduce maintenance costs and lead to improved roadway connections.
The Heim has stood as an integral structure that has served as a connection between Long Beach and Wilmington  (LA) to Terminal Island. Dock workers, oilers, sailors, even employees at an early Ford auto plant in Long Beach, cargo ships and small boats alike, and its neighbor, the Badger Avenue rail lift bridge have seen the Heim go up and down over the decades.
Hollywood Factoid: The Heim has been part of the backdrop of several television shows and movies, including Mannix, Being John Malkovich, and Inception.

Extended Closure of Alameda Ave. On-Ramps to Northbound I-5 Coming Nov. 18-23

The Sonora Avenue concrete pour this past August.

If you use the Alameda Avenue on-ramps in Burbank to access northbound I-5, there's an extended closure coming up next week that we want you to know about. 

The westbound and eastbound Alameda Avenue on-ramps to northbound I-5 will be closed from November 18, 2015, at 9 a.m. to November 23, 2015, at 6 a.m. These closures are necessary to protect motorists while crews pave ramps and a segment of the collector lane. Signed detours will be provided.

Don't be caught of guard! Make sure you know about all the I-5 closures that might affect your commute. Subscribe to the weekly I-5 advisory here. All we need is your email address. Another good way to stay informed is to follow us on Twitter at @My5LA. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Caltrans Launches First-Ever Bike and Pedestrian Plan

Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty announces the launch of the California 
State Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan outreach effort at the 2015 California 
Bicycle Summit, hosted by the California Bicycle Coalition.
Caltrans has begun developing the first-ever California State Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan (CSBPP), which will be a visionary and comprehensive policy plan to support active modes of transportation. The plan will guide the State in developing an integrated, multi-modal transportation network for all users, including:

+ Bicycle and pedestrian accommodation on the State Highway System, where appropriate.

+ Connections to intercity rail and public transportation.

+ Support for local government efforts to develop safe active transportation networks.

The target is to triple bicycling and double walking by 2020. Better bicycle and pedestrian facilities that safely connect people with where they need to go will also promote healthy and active lifestyles and improve the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Policies that stem from this plan will guide Caltrans’ decisions about future bicycle and pedestrian investments.

Developing the CSBPP will be a multi-year process that will continue through February 2017. It will be guided in part by a Technical Advisory Committee that includes stakeholder partners from the federal, state, regional and local levels; state health and safety agencies; and Caltrans staff. A comprehensive public engagement process will reach out to the general public, regional agencies and local governments, policymakers, business groups, and community organizations.

Want to get involved? Visit the project website (here) to share your input on walking and biking in your community and to sign up for email updates when new information becomes available.