Thursday, January 28, 2016

91 "Steer Clear": Not Another Carmegeddon

The Riverside County Transportation Commission in coordination with Caltrans will close eastbound and westbound SR-91 between SR-71 and I-15, Friday, February 19, 2016 at 9 pm to Monday, February 22, 2016 at 4 am. 

The 55-hour weekend closure of SR-91 will allow crews to consolidate three major construction activities and help ensure the safety of project crews and motorists by eliminating the possibility of conflicts. In case of rainstorms or inclement weather, the closure will be postponed to the next weekend, weather permitting.
For details about the 91 Steer Clear, visit:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

All In a Day's Work: Blasting a 20-Ton Rock to Bits

It weighed 20 tons. It was sitting in the middle of the westbound lanes of U.S. Highway 50 near Kyburz. It was blocking traffic. It had to be moved. Like, now.

But how exactly do you move a 20-ton boulder that has just crashed down the hillside onto the road? You don’t. It’s too big to move. You have to blow it up.

Check out the video below to see how Caltrans blasters handled the boulder problem.

Note: These are highly trained professional explosives experts. Do no try this at home.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

El Niño, El Niño, El Niño… In the News

The effects of this gargantuan weather pattern, El Niño, has many wondering about what affects it could have on our transportation system in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.  So #ICYMI (that’s a social media acronym or shorthand for: in case you missed it), there has been a few stories about this matter.  

Side point:  Have you figured out how to put the “ñ” in “El Niño”?  Just hold down the ALT button and type “164” on your number pad. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

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

Caltrans environmental planner Francois Appiah points out mud slide and washout.
Caltrans will continue to restrict access to San Gabriel Canyon Road (SR-39) due to mud slides and road washouts caused by early January rains in the Cabin fire burn area in the Angeles National Forest.  The closure is just north of East Fork Road, 13 miles north of the Foothill Freeway (SR-210).  The closure is expected to be in place for several weeks.
Caltrans damage assessment coordinators and geotechnical technical team are in the process of:
  • Developing repair solutions and hiring a contractor to rebuild three damaged sections of highway.
  • Clearing debris basins alongside the highway for future storms.
  • Rebuilding and stabilizing the slopes above and below the highway.
  • Securing permits from Angeles National Forest, California Fish and Wildlife, California Regional Water Quality Control Board, and US Waterways to begin repairs. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Full Closure of Buena Vista Street Jan. 23-24

Buena Vista Street bridge widening, looking south.
If you use Buena Vista Street under I-5 Burbank in Burbank, there’s a full street closure coming up this weekend that we’d like you to know about. 

Buena Vista Street will be closed in both directions between Winona Avenue and San Fernando Boulevard for bridge work Saturday, Jan. 23, at 3 a.m. to Sunday, Jan. 24, at 6 p.m. Crews are widening I-5 to make room for new carpool lanes, which means the bridge needs to be widened. They’re also building an elevated railroad bridge over Buena Vista Street, eliminating the grade-level crossing. The closure is necessary to keep motorists, pedestrians, and construction crews safe while work is underway this weekend. Signed detours will be posted. Learn more about the project here

As always, construction activities and closures are subject to change—and that’s especially true during these stormy El Niño months. To make sure you stay informed about any schedule changes, sign up to receive updates here

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

New Signs Save Energy, Reduce Costs

Caltrans is always looking for ways to improve the freeway and highway system in California—from the pavement you drive on to the signs overhead. Speaking of the latter, we're now installing new retro-reflective signs, which provide a double bonus for the public: they're more visible than traditional signage, and they don't require sign-mounted lights to be seen—they're illuminated by motorists’ headlights. 

These new signs helps Caltrans save money on energy costs and reduce our carbon footprint. And because crews don't have to maintain sign lighting, the signage reduces our crews' exposure to live traffic, and fewer closures for maintenance means less inconvenience to motorists. Check out the video below to learn more.  


Project to Protect Ventura Freeway (US 101) and Pacific Coast Highway (SR-1) from Mudflows in Solimar Fire Burn Area Underway

Caltrans has already begun efforts to mitigate potential mud and debris flows along the denuded slopes in the Solimar fire burn area along the Ventura Freeway (US 101) between West Main Street and Dulah Road, approximately 10 miles north of Ventura.  So far, recent storms have not caused significant mud or debris flows onto US 101 and SR-1.

Immediately after the fire was contained and controlled by the Ventura County Fire Department on Tuesday, December 29, Caltrans maintenance crews cleared drains, culverts, and debris basins, placed hundreds of feet concrete barriers (K-rails), and crews remained on 24-hour standby for storm patrol.  Throughout the year Caltrans maintenance crews prepare for storms.  
Caltrans maintenance and geotechnical staff have directed repair crews to clear debris basins for upcoming storms, clear and repair damaged culverts, install fiber rolls and K-rails to channelize water and mudflows, and stabilize slopes.  Additionally, repair crews will replace damaged metal beam guardrail, highway signs, fencing, rock fences, and drainage systems.  Hydroseeding may be used to help reestablish vegetation.

A $2.5 million emergency contract has been awarded to Summer Construction Inc. of Santa Paula, California to make immediate repairs and respond to future storm related incidents.  Repair crews will work Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. (longer hours during incidents) in the Solimar fire burn area on US 101 and SR-1.  Occasional lane closures may be required.

The Solimar fire started on Friday, December 25 and charred more than 1300 acres.  The fire required the closure of US 101 and SR-1 between Ventura and the Santa Barbara County line for 14-hours on Saturday, December 26.

Please Be Work Zone Alert.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A Pothole Primer

El Niño not only means more rain, it also means more potholes. Where do these pesky highway hazards come from and what does Caltrans do to repair and prevent them? Read on to learn everything you ever wanted to know about potholes and were afraid to ask. 

Why are there so many potholes when it rains?

During inclement weather, water can seep through cracks in the pavement loosening the bond between the base pavement and the overlay pavement. That instability leads to potholes.

Do maintenance crews repair potholes during storms?

Yes. During storms, crews patrol their areas with pothole mix. They can fill a pothole as soon as they encounter one by implementing a lane closure or CHP traffic break. 

How long does it take to repair a pothole? 

Potholes are typically repaired the same day, depending on available resources, staffing, equipment availability, and other priorities. Caltrans’ top priority is always the safety of motorists and our crews.

How long will a pothole repair last? 

A temporary repair could last for a couple years or a few days, depending on the condition of the sub-base, traffic volume, truck traffic, weather, the material used, and the condition of the surrounding pavement. If a pothole in a severely distressed area on a major freeway is filled during a rainstorm, it will usually last through the storm until more permanent repairs can be made.  

Does Caltrans do anything to prevent potholes? 

Maintenance crews “winterize” the pavement by sealing cracks, patching corner breaks, and replacing bad slabs to keep water out. Caltrans also undertakes extensive preventive maintenance projects to identify and correct minor distress in the pavement before it occurs, extending service life. That helps reduce the exposure of crews to traffic and the inconvenience of closures to motorists. 

How can I report a pothole? 

The best way to report a pothole is to submit a Maintenance Service Request (here). You can also call us at (213) 897-3656.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

El Niño Social Media Round Up

Contractor crews clearing mud from a drain in the center median
on US 101 near Solimar Beach in Ventura
El Niño has been here for several months, but the recent storms have posed as a serious challenge for Caltrans and motorists.

On Tuesday, January 5 Caltrans crews responded to a freakish muddy spill over into lanes onto southbound U.S. 101 near Solimar Beach, north of Ventura.  The spill over was the result of mud covering a drain in the center median north of Dulah Road.  Traffic was diverted off of southbound 101 onto PCH, eventually at least one lane was opened. By 6 p.m. crews open all lanes after clearing mud and water from the lanes.  The repair continues.    

Although there were worries that the slopes from the Solimar fire burn area would become saturated and flow onto the highway, there were only minor slides onto northbound lanes, but the highway remained open most of the day.  

Today, crews responded to flooding on I-5 in Sunland (North Los Angeles) between Lankershim and Sheldon.  The flooding required the closure of all lanes.  

The pump houses that remove water from the drains under the freeway became inundated with debris and water.  Caltrans maintenance crews waded through waist-high water to find and clear drains. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

El Niño Driving Tips

If this week's weather forecast is any indication, El Niño has arrived. We’re in for rainy weather in Southern California for the entire week, which is great, given that we truly-madly-deeply need the rain. The downside is that driving in wet conditions is more difficult than driving when it's dry and clear. Here are some rainy day driving tips to keep in mind:

 > Turn on your headlights. Using your headlights not only allows YOU to see more clearly, it also helps other drivers see you. Plus, it’s the law. Really. You can get a ticket. 

 > Reduce your speed. The posted speed limit may be too fast for conditions.  

 > Maintain more distance between you and the car ahead of you. It takes longer to stop on wet pavement.  

 > Do not drive through pools of standing water. 

 > Use extra caution during the first 30 to 60 minutes of a rainstorm — that’s when the road is especially slick. 

 > Make sure your car is in good working condition—tire pressure, wipers, defroster, exhaust system, BRAKES, etc. Did we mention BRAKES? 

 > Driving distracted is NEVER EVER a good idea, but it’s an especially horrible idea when it's raining. Concentrate on safe driving. Everything else can wait. 

 > Check road conditions before you head out the door. Call 511, monitor local media, or click over to and check out the Caltrans QuickMap. 

 > Yes, there ARE more accidents when it rains, which means more congestion and delays. So, if you have flexibility in your travel time, save yourself some aggravation and postpone your trip until the weather clears.

For more El Niño storm-prep info, check out