Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Pump House: Behind the Scenes with Caltrans

Join Caltrans' as we take a look behind the scenes in a water pump house along the Golden State Freeway (I-5) in the San Fernando Valley. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Construction Mystery Photo: Concretometer? iPod? Seismometer?

What on earth is going on in the photo above? Let's do some SAT-esque process of elimination! We know it can't be choice A, because this concrete is way too young to have any familiarity with the band Pavement and is really more of a Drake fan. B seems feasible, but we've seen enough earthquake news footage to know seismometers don't look like the device in the photo—they have a needle that draws wavy lines that tell us how much to panic. (Do not panic during earthquakes. Be prepared.) C can't be correct because the best way to test concrete "doneness" is to stick a toothpick in it and see if it comes out clean.* That leaves D as the correct answer.

The concrete and rebar in the photo is part of the structural support for the I-5 bridge over the Los Angeles River. Embedded in the concrete is a galvanic anode protection system, which helps minimize corrosion of the reinforcing steel. The system works by connecting the metal to be protected (the reinforcing steel) to a more easily corroded metal, aka a sacrificial metal. The sacrificial metal then corrodes instead of the protected metal, which helps reduce maintenance and repairs. The meter is the photo is measuring the electrical current to make sure the system embedded in the new concrete is working as intended.

The structures shown are part of the I-5 carpool lane project between SR-134 and Magnolia Boulevard. Learn more about the project here.

* The toothpick method doesn't actually work for concrete—unless you use chocolate chips and walnuts in place of aggregate.

Friday, May 20, 2016

ET Transport: Closures for ET-94 Move in Los Angeles

Caltrans will temporarily close various locations of State Routes 1, 90 and I-405.  
Emmert International is moving the Space Shuttle External Fuel Tank 94 (ET-94) from Marina Del Rey to the California Science Center utilizing Lincoln Boulevard (SR-1) from Fiji Way to Loyola Boulevard, eastbound Marina Freeway (SR-90) from Mindanao Way to Culver Boulevard, and the Arbor Vitae Street Bridge overcrossing the San Diego Freeway (I-405) beginning on May 20, at 9:00 p.m. and ending May 21, at 5:00 a.m. 
ET Move Route Map, courtesy of CA Science Center

California Science Center ET-94 Press Kit

Caltrans has issued a transportation permit for the closures.  Motorists should anticipate delays during this time.  Signs will be posted for motorists’ convenience.  Caltrans reminds motorists to Be Work Zone Alert.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Nighttime Street Closures in Burbank and Glendale

There are several nighttime street closure this week (May 16-20) in Burbank and Glendale that we want you to know about—especially if you live or work in the area. These closures are necessary to keep motorists safe while crews perform bridge work. In all cases, the closures will be in place from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., Sunday through Friday (no weekends). Detours will be posted. The locations are as follows:

Buena Vista Street from San Fernando Boulevard to Winona Avenue. Note that this closure will be in place for four weeks.

Sonora Avenue under I-5.

Western Avenue under I-5. Note that this closure begins Thursday, May 18.

Stay informed about all closures by signing up to receive email updates here.

Project information is here and here.

Questions? Call us on the I-5 Info Line at (855) 454-6335 or email us here.

Paramount Bl. Bridge Permanent Restoration Project above Pomona Freeway

Looking south, near eastbound SR-60 on-ramp
Caltrans' contractor, Powell Constructors Inc. will begin to:
  • Backfill the new constructed retaining walls 
  • Pour concrete to build wider on- and off-ramps that connect to Paramount Boulevard bridge
Motorists may experience occasional freeway ramp closures.  The work is not expected to be louder than freeway traffic.
Work hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday
Work Period: May 9 to May 28
Retaining wall next to westbound on-ramp
Summary: This project will realign and upgrade two cloverleaf ramps to current standards, constructing sidewalks, and add pedestrian ramps that meet Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. Additionally, three retaining walls will be constructed along the westbound on- and off-ramps, and along the westbound on-ramp near the intersection of Paramount Boulevard and Neil Armstrong Street. 
Retaining wall across from Neil Armstrong St.
Background: In 2011, the Paramount Boulevard Bridge was demolished and rebuilt under an emergency contract after a gasoline tanker fire on the freeway below severely damaged the bridge.  The new bridge, built to modern standards, was opened to the public in May 2012.  The new bridge is wider than the original bridge that was built in 1967.  Once this project is completed the flow of traffic and safety will be enhanced, congestion reduced, and will accommodate future traffic demands.
East- and westbound ramps to be widened across from Neil Armstrong St.

Questions? Call 213-897-3656 or visit www.dot.ca.gov/dist07

Thursday, May 12, 2016

California's First State Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan Gains Speed

Several participants at the May 10 forum in Los Angeles prepare to start a small group discussion on the plan.
May is National Bike Month, celebrated in communities throughout California and across America. The national observance began in 1956 and promotes the benefits of bicycling.

Fittingly during National Bike Month, on May 10 Caltrans hosted local and regional officials from cities and agencies in Southern California who gathered in downtown Los Angeles to help support development of a visionary plan to promote safe bicycling and walking.

The regional forum and open house were sponsored by Caltrans, which envisions the first California State Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan (CSBPP) as an important way to promote a multi-modal transportation system that supports active modes of transportation and creates a framework to increase safe bicycling and walking.

The Los Angeles gathering was part of a series of regional forums and open houses held across the state to support the CSBPP. The state plan is expected to complement and support city and county policies that promote safe bicycling and walking.

California has set a target to triple bicycling and double walking by 2020 by improving these options for all Californians.

Leaders say 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 automobile use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Policies that stem from the CSBPP will guide Caltrans’ decisions about future bicycle and pedestrian investments in safe facilities and programs that encourage walking and bicycling.

Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty launched the outreach effort for the CSBPP at the 2015 California Bicycle Summit, hosted by the California Bicycle Coalition.

“More Californians are choosing alternatives to driving that have health benefits and cut greenhouse gases,” Dougherty said. “Caltrans will collaborate with a variety of stakeholders who have a stake in safe and accessible transportation in California.”

CSBPP is part of Caltrans’ mission to “provide a safe, sustainable, integrated and efficient transportation system to enhance California’s economy and livability.”

At the CSBPP website, www.cabikepedplan.org, visitors may take an online survey and sign up for email updates about new project information and outreach activities. People also may follow the hashtag #CSBPP on Twitter for more information.

When completed in 2017, the CSBPP will help guide future investments such as Caltrans’ Active Transportation Program (ATP), which funds projects that take cars off the road, helping to clean the air, conserve natural resources and promote healthier, sustainable communities. The plan will not replace existing policies and implementation plans at the regional and local levels.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

District 7's Workers' Memorial, May 10, 2016

Caltrans employees and guests took a moment out of their day to recognize and remember District 7 workers killed on the job at a Workers’ Memorial event today at the San Fernando Maintenance Yard in Granada Hills.

Statewide, Caltrans has lost 184 employees since 1924, when the Department began keeping records of such fatalities.  The 32 workers recognized were from District 7, covering Los Angeles and Ventura counties.  The last District 7 employee to be killed on the job was in 2005.

After two years without a Caltrans fatality, Oscar Vargas, 54, of Chula Vista, died from injuries received after losing control of his work truck while leaving a nighttime project along Interstate 8 in Imperial County on July 14, 2015. Vargas was a structures construction engineer and 29-year Caltrans veteran.
Names of fallen workers next to Caltrans rock climbers display.
“We will always keep safety as our number one priority for motorists and our employees,” said Caltrans District 7 Director Carrie Bowen.  “To keep California’s highway system running many Caltrans employees work within feet or inches of vehicles zipping by, so it is important for everyone to Be Work Zone Alert.”

Highway construction and maintenance work is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. In 2014, 63 men and women died in California work zones. This includes both workers and motorists, with drivers and passengers accounting for 85 to 90 percent of the people who are killed in highway work zones. These numbers don’t include the close calls, such as the more than 1,000 Caltrans vehicles hit on the highways each year—the equivalent of almost three per day.
Drivers can dramatically improve safety in work zones by slowing down and reducing distractions like texting and talking on the phone, and complying with the Move Over law, which requires motorists to move over if it is safe to do so, or slow down, when approaching vehicles displaying flashing amber warning lights.
“As long as there are motorists who are complacent, inattentive, impaired, and reckless, all motorists and highway workers will continue to be at risk,” said Bowen. “It’s up to each and every motorist to end the vicious and dangerous cycle, and Be Work Zone Alert, Slow For The Cone Zone and Move Over.”

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

I-5 Empire Project: Your Questions Answered!

The $355 million I-5 Empire Project in Burbank is a big, complex project that will, among other things, elevate the railroad tracks, construct a new interchange and undercrossing at Empire Avenue, demolish and realign the Burbank Boulevard bridge, and construct carpool lanes in both directions of I-5 between Magnolia Boulevard and Buena Vista Street (learn more here). 

Understandably, we get piles of questions about this confounding project from motorists and residents, and as luck should have it, this post is chock full of answers! The top five most common questions are answered below. If your question isn’t on the list, send us an email here or call us on the I-5 Info Line at (855) 454-6335.

1. What’s that big pit by Victory Place and Empire Avenue?

That big pit is where the new undercrossing will connect Empire Avenue to San Fernando Boulevard under I-5. Crews are also constructing a new full interchange here. These improvements will be completed by mid-2018, but some of the new ramps will open earlier.

2. Is it true that you’re going to demolish the Burbank Boulevard bridge?

Yes, but don’t worry—it's not permanent. We’re going to reconstruct the bridge, making it longer and wider, and reconfigure the ramps. The bridge needs to be reconstructed because we’re also adding carpool lanes to I-5 between Magnolia Boulevard and Buena Vista Street, which means the freeway and the bridge have to be widened. Demo and reconstruction will begin in mid-2018 and take about 14 months.

3. Wait—you’re going to remove the Burbank Boulevard bridge for 14 months?! Oh noooooooo! How will we get around the city?

The work on the Burbank Boulevard bridge won’t begin until the new Empire Avenue interchange and undercrossing are open to traffic. So, you’ll have a new interchange to use before anything happens to Burbank Boulevard. Also, some of the Burbank Boulevard ramps will remain open during reconstruction, and we’ll have detours in place that will be carefully monitored to maximize traffic flow.

4. What’s happening with the railroad tracks?

The railroad tracks are being elevated, so that instead of driving over them at Buena Vista Street, you’ll drive under thema significant safety and operational enhancement. The temporary railroad tracks (aka shoofly) that began operating last fall will be removed. The elevated tracks will be completed late this year.

5. I’ve noticed graffiti in the construction zone. How can I report this?

Call us on the I-5 Info Line at (855) 454-6335 or email us here. Give us the exact location and a description of the graffiti. The contractor is usually able to remove tags within two weeks of the report—sometimes sooner. Removals that require freeway closures may take longer.