Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Buena Vista Pile Driving is a Hit!

The pile driving operation at Buena Vista Street and Winona Avenue in Burbank is a HIT ... actually, make that 25 hits ... per foot. And each pile is driven about 40 feet into the ground, so that's about 1,000 hits per pile. The pile driving is necessary to widen the Buena Vista Street overcrossing to accommodate new carpool lanes as part of the I-5 Empire Project.

The operation will continue through mid-February, but this week residents and businesses in the area get a break from the pounding as crews work on shoring, which is considerably less disruptive. The pile driving will start up again next week. In the meantime, if you're curious about what exactly pile driving looks and sounds like, check out the 10-second video below. This was shot last week at the pile driving site on Buena Vista.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Washouts Keep Pacific Coast Highway (SR-1) Closed

Washout near PM 4.0
The Pacific Coast Highway (SR-1) between Las Posas Road and Yerba Buena Road and will continue to remain closed until the end of February.  Due to high surf caused by storms in January, the slopes below the highway washed away requiring extensive repairs that will require the highway to be closed another month.  No motorists, pedestrians or cyclists will be permitted access beyond the campground.

Ongoing Work

At postmile marker (PM) 4.0 a slide approximately 40 feet wide and 80 feet deep washed away on the beach side of the highway.  Crews will place large boulders to secure the slope.  A crane will sit in both lanes of the highway to complete this operation. Then geotechnical fabric will secure the hillside, and guardrail will be replaced.  Caltrans worked with utility companies to remove their utility lines so that crews can begin repairs.

At PM 4.2 (Big Sycamore) another slide has undermined the highway and will need to be stabilized and rebuilt.  Caltrans is working with environmental regulatory agencies for the necessary environmental permits to initiate the work at this location. 
Rain storms, debris slides, strong waves during December caused extensive damage along the highway in the Springs Fire Burn Area.  

Completed Work 

At PM 6.3 (La Jolla Beach) 400 feet of the shoulder and slope has been rebuilt.
At PM 7.2 scaling of the slope to remove loose debris and rocks has been completed.
Most of the mud from past storms has been removed from the roadway. 

Union Engineering of Santa Paula, California was awarded this $7 million emergency contract.  The state will be reimbursed for the costs of this project under the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief Fund.   

Caltrans understands the inconvenience that motorists and businesses are facing while this closure is in place.  Until the highway has been determined to be safe for motorists, the highway must remain closed.

Motorists should continue to consider alternate routes and visit for traffic conditions. Please Be Work Zone Alert. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Project Update: I-5 Improvements Between SR-170 and SR-118 are Nearing Completion

We’re so close to finishing! The new I-5 carpool lane project between SR-118 and SR-170 is almost done! The contractor is on track to complete both the carpool lane and the carpool lane connector between I-5 and SR-170 in April 2015. (The carpool lane connector will allow carpoolers to travel directly from one freeway to another without leaving the carpool lane.)

And here’s a bonus! The carpool lanes south of this project, between SR-170 and Buena Vista Street, will open at the same time, creating a new continuous eight-mile stretch of carpool lanes. These improvements will:

       > Enhance safety
       > Improve traffic flow
       > Relieve congestion
       > Encourage ride-sharing
       > Reduce weaving and merging

What still needs to be done: In the next few months, work will include: median barriers, pavement grinding, slope paving, metal beam guardrail installation, outside shoulder work on southbound I-5, irrigation and landscaping, striping, signage installation and dyke construction.

What to expect through April 2015: While we finalize the improvements, you can expect temporary lane and ramp closures and a small number of full freeway closures (one direction only) for overhead signage work late at night when traffic volumes are
low. The southbound I-5 Branford Street on-ramp will reopen in April 2015.

Stay informed: Information about closures and project updates will be provided in Caltrans’ weekly motorist advisory and posted on To receive the weekly advisory in your inbox, visit and submit your email address. You can also call the toll-free I-5 Info Line at (855) 454-6335. More information about the project is here.

[Click image to download a PDF of this update.]

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Behind the Scenes at the “Be Work Zone Alert” Commercial Shoot

About 1,000 Caltrans vehicles are hit each year — that’s almost three every day. To encourage motorists to “Be Work Zone Alert” and help keep our workers safe, Caltrans is launching a new 30-second TV safety campaign. In the video below, we go behind the scenes of the shoot, which features the kids of Caltrans employees. You also get to see the debut of the TV spot that's being launched for the first time in this video.

Caltrans employees and highway workers put their lives on the line every day to keep travelers moving safely through California. The public safety announcement video will begin airing statewide in spring 2015 as crews ramp up for the construction and maintenance season. More information about the children, their parents and the "Be Work Zone Alert" campaign is here.

Construction Moving Forward on Flyover Bridge in Baldwin Park

The San Gabriel Valley’s busy 1-10/1-605 interchange is about to become easier to navigate at the end of 2015 due to progress on a southbound I-605 connector bridge to the eastbound I-10.  The very visible flyover bridge, which started construction in 2013, will greatly improve traffic flow and reduce commuter delays in the San Gabriel Valley once it is completed. To date, the $66 million project, funded by the State Highway Operation and Protection Program, with a combination of state and federal monies, is more than 50% complete. 
View of the connector from westbound I-10

Once completed, the connector will be 58 feet at its highest point.

Construction is anticipated to complete by fall, 2015.

The connector is a 30-foot wide single lane connector and includes a 42-inch high barrier on its south side  facing Dalewood Street 

A number of milestones have been already reached on the project. The creation of the new I-605 south to I-10 west connector has allowed traffic heading west to avoid the construction backup to the east. Also, construction crews are completing columns along the freeway and Dalewood Street which sustain the flyover bridge. Most importantly, the entire steel infrastructure has been completed on the segment of the bridge that spans both freeways of the interchange. 

With an anticipated completion date in the fall, the next step will be constructing the steel infrastructure of the eastern section of the bridge, which runs along Dalewood Street and touches down on the I-10 east. In order to reduce traffic noise in the neighborhood, sound walls will be built along Dalewood Street. The majority of bridge work will be performed at night so that commuters won’t be stopped during heavy traffic periods in the day. Also, there will be no construction during federal holidays.

For more information on the project and to get weekly closure updates, you can follow us on Facebook @10/605 Direct Connector and Twitter @10605DirectCon or email Yessica Jovel of Caltrans at

Friday, January 16, 2015

I-5 Empire Project Update: Burbank Pile Driving Proceeding on Schedule!

A week into the Buena Vista pile driving operation in Burbank, we can say the following: so far, so good! Work is proceeding on schedule and relatively smoothly. The operation, which is part of the I-5 Empire Project, is occurring near the intersection of Buena Vista Street and Winona Avenue, and is necessary to widen I-5 to accommodate new carpool lanes.

The piles are made of steel and about 16 inches in diameter. They’re driven 40 feet into the ground at a rate of about 25 blows per foot, which works out to about 1,000 blows per pile, delivered by this:

Here’s a shot looking down at the site:

And here’s the pile driver in action:

As is true of all pile driving operations, this one is generating noise and vibration impacts. The Caltrans Noise and Vibration Unit has been on scene measuring those impacts, and the preliminary report suggests the impacts are within the range of normal for an operation of this type. 

Crews will continue with the operation this weekend (Saturday through Monday, MLK Day). The short segment of Winona Avenue that runs under I-5 will be closed, but Buena Vista Street will be open. The complete schedule (subject to change, of course) is here.

Want more info about the Buena Vista pile driving operation? Check out the construction notice here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Buena Vista Pile Driving Starts TODAY!

The pile driving operation near the intersection of Buena Vista Street and Winona Avenue under I-5 began this morning. The work is part of Caltrans’ I-5 Empire Project and is necessary to construct the foundation for the widened Buena Vista Street bridge, which will accommodate new carpool lanes in both directions of I-5.

Most weekdays, the contractor will begin driving piles at 7 a.m. and finish up at about 4 p.m., but some days the work will go longer, though not past 7 p.m. There will also be work on weekends. The pile driving is expected to be completed by mid- to late February. See the complete schedule here. This being a complex construction project, the schedule is subject to change.

Make no mistake: pile driving can be disruptive. We're basically pounding huge steel beams into the ground using brute force. So, if you hear construction noise and feel some shaking, that’s normal. Not pleasant, but normal. Because we want to know exactly how much noise and vibration are being generated, staff from the Caltrans Noise and Vibration Unit will measure impacts on both sides of I-5. We understand the operation is an inconvenience to the surrounding community – albeit a necessary one – and we want to be sure the noise and vibration generated are in line with expectations for an operation of this type.

We apologize for the disruption many times over and appreciate your patience. 

Want more info? Check out the Buena Vista Street pile driving fact sheet here.

Want to receive the latest information on the pile driving operation and other work related to the Empire Project? Go to and sign up to get weekly email updates. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

California Bicycle Coalition Votes U.S. 101 Bike Path Number One!

In its "Best of 2014" Report, the California Bicycle Coalition voted the New Class I bike path along U.S. 101 in Ventura County the best new bike path in its infrastructure category. The report consisted of four categories: Infrastructure; Leaders; Decisions; and Ideas.

According to the coalition, "This instant tourist attraction transformed a stretch of coastal highway from a terrifying ride on the shoulder of a busy highway to a wide and comfortable bike path. Having planned our fundraising bike tour before the path was built, we diverted our route away from the coast to avoid this stretch of highway. With the path in place, the La Conchita Bike Path now affords people the chance to take in views of surfers and dolphins and sunsets as they ride along one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the world. 

"The path shows the power of protected lanes,” said Rachel Morris, head of VC Cool, the sponsor of the local bike advocacy organization. “Biking on the freeway next to 18-wheelers and 70 mile per hour traffic was hair-raising, and I dreaded every minute of it. Now, with the physical protection, it's a gorgeous and safe ride right along the ocean. It’s a gem, a destination. People of all ages and skills are flocking to it."

The bike path was constructed as part of the U.S. Highway 101 Carpool Lane project from Mobil Pier Road in Ventura County to Carpinteria in Santa Barbara County. The six-mile project began in spring 2012 and is expected to complete in mid-2015. The bike path was officially inaugurated at a ceremony in La Conchita in September, 2014. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

East Los Angeles Interchange (I-5, I-10, SR-60, and US 101) Closures for Swarm Maintenance

Swarm on Feb. 24, 2013 in Downtown Los Angeles
UPDATE - will take place on Sunday, 1/25/2015

UPDATE 1/11/2015 -*POSTPONED* due to rain.

Caltrans will deploy 100 maintenance and community service workers (orange hardhats) to perform “swarm” maintenance on Sunday, January 25 in closed sections of the East Los Angeles Interchange from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m.  Crews will remove litter and graffiti, trim trees, clear weeds, repair guardrail and irrigation, inspect and clear drains, and perform routine inspections of structures.  Motorists should expect delays.  Signed detours will be in place.

The closures will occur at the following locations:

Southbound I-5 to eastbound SR-60
Southbound US 101 to southbound I-5

Southbound US 101 1st Street off-ramp
Southbound US 101 4th Street off-ramp
Southbound US 101 4th Street on-ramp
Southbound US 101/eastbound I-10 Mission Street on-ramp
Eastbound SR-60 Soto Street on-ramp

Usually crews only have a short closure window within the East Los Angeles Interchange.  By increasing the window to seven hours and placing several personnel into one closure, crews will be able accomplish several tasks all at once. 

The California Highway Patrol will be on duty.  Please Be Work Zone Alert #BWZA.  Here's an example of a swarm at the I-5/I-10 (aka 5 and dime) in 2013:

Monday, January 5, 2015

Caltrans Rock Climbers to Help Remove Rocks in Pacific Coast Highway (SR-1) Closure

 Caltrans climbers will remove loose rocks from slopes along SR-1 south of Mugu Rock.  Work is expected to begin Tuesday, January 6 at 9 a.m. 

On Friday, December 12, heavy rains caused 12 to 15 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.  The slides came from the May 2013 Springs Fire burn area.   The highway is expected to remain closed until late January.  No motorists or cyclists will be permitted access.
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. 

Quickmap view indicating the closure on PCH on a
freeway message sign on I-10 in Santa Monica.

Electronic message signs on the westbound Santa Monica Freeway (I-10) and SR-1 indicate that the highway is closed.  Motorists should consider using alternate routes around the closure.  Please visit for traffic conditions on freeways and highway throughout the state. 

Please Be Work Zone Alert. 

Pile Driving for New I-5 Carpool Lanes in Burbank to Begin Jan. 12

Pile driving to widen the Buena Vista Street Bridge in Burbank will begin next Monday, January 12, near the N. Buena Vista Street/Winona Avenue intersection under I-5. The work is part of Caltrans’ I-5 Empire Project and is necessary to construct the foundation for the widened bridge, which will accommodate new carpool lanes in both directions of I-5.


What: Pile driving is a common method of constructing structure foundations. To support the structure, steel beams (piles) are driven into the soil until reaching a hard layer of earth beneath the structure foundation.

Where: The work will take place near the intersection of N. Buena Vista Street and Winona Avenue. 

When: Pile driving will occur between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and most weekends. The work will be ongoing for approximately six to seven weeks, ending in late February.

Closures: During weekend work, the segments of Buena Vista Street and Winona Avenue that pass under I-5 will be closed in both directions. Signed detours will be provided.

Impacts: Those who live or work near the construction area may notice noise and vibration during this operation. Noise and vibration levels will be measured and closely monitored.

Schedule Changes: The work schedule is subject to change due to operational factors and inclement weather.

Stay Informed: To get the latest information about pile driving and other work related to the I-5 Empire Project, visit Submit your email address through the website to get notifications delivered automatically to your inbox. You can also call us on the toll-free I-5 Info Line at (855) 454-6335.