Friday, February 13, 2015

Swarm Maintenance Recap: East LA Interchange

Caltrans electricians replace old amber lights with new LEDs on US 101.
To avoid disrupting traffic and inconveniencing motorists, maintenance closures that allow crews to work on the East Los Angeles Interchange are usually very short – typically a couple of hours at most. By increasing that window to six hours and assigning multiple crews to the effort, Caltrans was able to complete multiple maintenance operations simultaneously during District 7’s fourth “swarm” maintenance operation.  

A total of 100 maintenance and community service workers participated in the effort on Sunday, January 25, in closed sections of the East Los Angeles Interchange from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. They removed litter and graffiti, trimmed trees, cleared weeds, repaired guardrail and irrigation, replaced lamps, inspected and cleared drains, and inspected structures. Thousands of motorists were detoured around the closure, but delays were minimal.

Read the The Guardian’s perspective of the day’s events.

According to South Region Maintenance Manager Marvin Pruitt, the interchange was in need of a great deal of maintenance due to accessibility difficulties and short closure windows. “We cannot close lanes during the day Monday through Friday, unless it’s an emergency, and working at night exposes crews and motorists to additional risks,” said Pruitt. 

Maintenance Manager I Richard Almanzan agrees. “We are being conscious of the traveling public and commuters and by having the swarms on Sunday morning when traffic volumes are low. Tackling all of these operations at once allows us to reduce the future need for closures in that area,” he said.

One of the day’s tasks included cleaning the slot drain next to the center median, which was filled with debris and trash.  A truck equipped with a water jet sprayed high-pressure water to bust open clogs. “If it weren’t for the swarm closure, the crews would have needed to close at least two of the three southbound lanes,” said Pruitt.

Thanks to six car-free hours on a Sunday morning, crews were able accomplish weeks of maintenance work – and they were able to do it in safe conditions without exposure live traffic, leaving the interchange safer, cleaner and in better repair for motorists.

Want to see the swarm crews in action? Check out the photos below.