Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Caltrans biologist and maintenance crews hatch plan to protect bird(s)

Inspecting tree for bird nestCaltrans Biologist (yes, we have biologists too) Francis Appiah inspected a bird nest Caltrans tree crews spotted while removing diseased, dead, and dying trees along the Glendale Freeway (SR-2) in Echo Park (Los Angeles) last week.

Working in partnership with Caltrans road maintenance and electricians, Appiah was given a “lift” in a hydraulic lift so he could get a better view of the nest. 

“Going up was one of the greatest experiences,” said Appiah, “I was fascinated that the nest had eggs.” 

Appiah is not sure what type of bird was going to hatch, but he was emphatic that it was a good call by the tree crew to contact him before proceeding. 

The tree crew will cut the dying tree down after Appiah has returned to ensure the birds have moved on. 

During nesting season Caltrans biologists survey maintenance and construction zones to ensure that crews do not cause any impacts on nesting birds (previous blog:  Caltrans Buffers Birds) in compliance with the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. 

Why were the crews removing trees?

As part of the Governor’s
California Tree Mortality Taskforce, Caltrans is removing thousands of diseased, dead, and dying trees along state highways and freeways. 

These trees can fall onto nearby buildings or onto active freeways. 

Now in the fifth year of a severe drought, California trees have been put under an incredible strain. Tens of millions of trees have died during the drought and state and federal resource agencies and universities say tens of millions more are in danger.  

Starved of water, many trees are weakened and can’t fight off invasive pests. Trees are unable to secrete sticky resin to combat bark beetle infestations, while wood-boring beetles (the Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer and Gold Spotted Oak Borer) have infested sycamores and many other varieties of trees, posing a threat to avocado trees and other segments of California agriculture.

Caltrans Public Information Officer Rick Estrada explains how his part of the state is responding to tree mortality:

Friday, August 26, 2016

“Jams” to focus on this weekend

Nope, Caltrans is not in the radio play list business, we’re all about transportation.

Let’s keep focused on “jams” or closures that will really affect traffic in Los Angeles County.

At the top of the list is #RoseJam.  So far the traffic for this closure has been very smooth, as smooth as the new pavement were pouring on I-210 in the city limits of Pasadena (it’s the City of Roses, hence the name #RoseJam).
Important Closure (No cool name)
Next up on this is a closure that’s so small it doesn’t even have a cool name like #Jamzilla or #Rampture.  Here’s the press release (a short one too):

Full Freeway Closure of Westbound Pomona Freeway (SR-60) for Maintenance

WHITTIER – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close all lanes of westbound SR-60 at the SR-60/I-605 Interchange to perform routine bridge maintenance on Saturday morning, August 27 from midnight to 5 a.m.  Westbound traffic will be detoured onto north- and southbound I-605.  

As part of this $1.02 million project, Caltrans’ contractor, Western Structures of Riverside, Calif., will apply methacrylate (an adhesive) to a bridge near the interchange.  Methacrylate fills cracks in bridge concrete, extends the life of a structure, and reduces future maintenance costs.  

Signed detours will be in place.  Motorists should expect delays.  The California Highway Patrol will be on duty.  Please Be Work Zone Alert #BWZA.  

Lastly, you may have heard about the #HollywoodJamSession closure on US 101 between Hollywood and Downtown Los Angeles to re-install loop detectors.  This is not a major closure as you may have heard in local news reports.  Please read the blog entry about it.
All of these closures are necessary to ensure that the state’s transportation system is maintained, safe, and operational.  

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Full Closures of Hollywood Freeway (US 101) Downtown Los Angeles to Hollywood

Loop Detector Installation on US 101
UPDATE: There are no closures expected for Tuesday, August 30, from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.  It's possible the contractor may not have any closures on Wednesday, August 31 as well. 

Some FAQs: 

Q: So this is a full freeway closure, like a Carmageddon or RoseJam or a Hollywood Jam Session? 

A: No.  Not even close. (There are no emojis to express how this is SO not a major closure).

Only small sections of one direction of US 101 will be closed.  

For instance, if the closure is on northbound US 101 at Western Avenue, only northbound US 101 will be closed up to the next ramp, Sunset Boulevard. 

These closures have already occurred on US 101 and have not, nor is it expected that any total shut down of the highway will occur. :)

Q:  So what days and times will the closures occur?

A: The full freeway closures will start at midnight or 1 a.m. and end at 5 a.m., from Sunday to Wednesday.  The means that the closures will start during the morning of each day and end on the same morning (Sunday morning, Monday morning, Tuesday morning, and Wednesday morning). :)

The press release: 

Caltrans will close all lanes of portions of north- and southbound US 101 from Glendale Boulevard to Cahuenga Boulevard from Sunday to Wednesday, until the first week of September, midnight to 5 a.m. to install loop detectors into the pavement.  

Motorists should expect delays and consider alternate routes. Signed detours will be in place. 

The loop detector installation is one of the final stages of a $19.26 million project to repave US 101 from Downtown Los Angeles to Hollywood. 

Loop detectors track travel time information and speeds that reflect real-time traffic conditions. The data collected from the wire loops can be translated in many ways. For instance, the count for how many vehicles pass over each loop at any given time determines traffic volume. The length of time that a vehicle remains on the loop indicates a possible incident, congestion or if traffic is flowing smoothly. 

Media tweets:

The contract was awarded to OHL USA Inc. from Irvine, California. The project is funded by the State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP) and is expected to finish by the end of 2016. The California Highway Patrol will be on duty. Remember to Be Work Zone Alert.

Burbank Western Channel Cap Update

Caltrans’ contractor will resume work on the Burbank Western Channel cap project this week. Here’s what to expect.

➤ Upcoming Work: Crews will remove the Burbank Western Channel fence and install precast concrete panels to form the deck covering the channel adjacent to Leland Way. A crane will be used to lower the panels onto the top of the channel, creating a concrete cap.

➤ Construction Schedule: The capping of the channel will begin the week of August 22, 2016, and will take approximately two months. Crews will work primarily Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Set-up work may begin earlier.) Some night work is possible as well.

➤ Work Location: To the extent possible, the crane used to place the concrete panels will be stationed on the freeway side of the soundwall, which means most of the operation will not be visible to Leland Way and Broadway residents. Due to space limitations, it may be necessary at times to work from the street side.

➤ Closures: For the safety of residents, motorists and workers, street parking will be restricted when necessary to accommodate equipment and materials. Please pay attention to signs. Flaggers will be on site, and access to homes and driveways will be maintained at all times.

➤ Dust/Noise Impacts: No significant dust is expected, as precast concrete will be used for this operation. There will be some construction noise, but it will not exceed levels permitted by federal, state and local regulations.

➤ Why the Channel Cap is Necessary: The channel cap is part of the I-5 Empire Project, which is implementing major improvements to I-5, local streets and the railroad tracks in Burbank. As part of the project, new carpool lanes and a full interchange at Empire Avenue will be constructed. Capping the channel will provide the space needed for the carpool lanes and interchange.

➤ Benefits: The cap will reduce the mosquito population on Leland Way and odors emanating from the channel. It will not affect the functioning of the channel.

➤ More information: Learn more about the I-5 Empire Project at Submit your email address to get project updates. Questions? Call us on the I-5 Info Line at (855) 454-6335 or send an email to

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Lane Closure for Swarm Maintenance on Long Beach Freeway (I-710)

Culvert inspectors using a remote control robot to inspect freeway drains during a swarm in East LA.
Swarm maintenance?! What's that?  Rest assured, it has nothing to do with beekeeping or the Wu-Tang clan.  

By placing several personnel into one closure, crews will be able accomplish several tasks and reduce the need for future closures.

Here's an example of a past swarm maintenance operation at the East Los Angeles Interchange:

Here's the press release:

Lane Closure for Swarm Maintenance on Long Beach Freeway (I-710)

By placing several personnel into one closure, crews will be able accomplish several tasks and reduce the need for future closures

BELL GARDENS – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will deploy 100 maintenance workers (white hardhats) to perform “swarm” maintenance on Sunday, August 21, 5 a.m. to noon along southbound I-710 from Bandini Boulevard to Florence Avenue.  One lane of southbound I-710 will be closed.     

Crews will remove litter and graffiti, trim trees, clear weeds, repair guardrail and irrigation, and inspect and clear drains.

Motorists should expect delays.  

By increasing the window to 6 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.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

What “Structurally Deficient” and “Functionally Obsolete” REALLY Mean

Bridge number 53-0062, the Manhattan Beach Undercrossing on PCH, built in 1930.
From time to time, a report of some kind or a news story will declare that X percentage of bridges in California are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. And if hearing that bridges you drive over may be structurally deficient or functionally obsolete gives you pause, you’re not alone. Admittedly, these loaded terms are terrific triggers for bridge anxiety, but rest assured that the reality is far less scary.

First, let’s be clear: No Caltrans bridge has ever collapsed due to neglect. Ever. Which isn’t to say that bridges don’t collapse. They do. They’re consumed by floods, brought down by fire, leveled by earthquakes, and hit by trucks, but in California, bridges do NOT collapse because they're not maintained. In large part, that flawless record is made possible by a special unit created by the department in 1927 to ensure the safety and reliability of the state’s bridge inventory. 

Sr. Bridge Engineer Bing Wu at work.
Two hundred specially trained engineers, technicians and support staff in Caltrans Structure Maintenance & Investigations (SM&I) are responsible for inspections on over 12,000 state highway bridges and approximately 12,200 bridges owned by local government agencies. Every bridge undergoes regularly scheduled routine inspections performed by licensed engineers with an expertise in bridges. Inspections have one purpose: to ensure the safety and reliability of every bridge open to traffic. 

If, during the course of an inspection, inspectors find any issue that could compromise the bridge’s structural integrity, they have the power to do whatever it takes to protect public safety, including closing the bridge or posting the structure for weight limitations until repairs are made.

Now, about those scary terms. Some of California’s older bridges are in good shape but functionally obsolete. This term, which is a federal designation, tells us more about the age of a bridge than its structural integrity. Functionally obsolete simply means that the bridge was built using different standards than are used today—like bridge number 53-0062 in the photo above. For example, a functionally obsolete bridge may have no shoulders and narrow lanes. Would we build a bridge like this today? No. Is it unsafe? No. 

Some of our bridges are also structurally deficient. Like the label functionally obsolete, structurally deficient doesn’t mean a bridge is unsafe. Rather, it indicates that a bridge is in need of maintenance, such as filling minor cracks or repainting. These are conditions that would be noted during a bridge inspection and later fixed. In the meantime, the bridge can be safely used by the motoring public.

So the next time you hear or read that a bridge is functionally obsolete or structurally deficient, remember: the bridge is NOT unsafe. Typically, it means that it’s an older bridge or has some minor maintenance issues that can be handled fairly easily and inexpensively. If the bridge is open, it’s safe. Traverse California's bridges with confidence!

Monday, August 15, 2016

POSTPONED: 10-day Closure of Paramount Boulevard eastbound SR-60 loop on-ramp in Montebello

Paramount Bl. Eastbound SR-60 loop on-ramp entrance
Caltrans will close the Paramount Boulevard eastbound SR-60 loop on-ramp from Tuesday, September 6 at 6 a.m. to Friday, September 16 at 3 p.m. Monday, August 29 to Wednesday, September 7 for 10-consecutive days.  Detour signs will be posted.

Construction crews will need the closure to reconfigure the ramp by grading soil, demolish the old ramp, and finishing paving and striping the new ramp.

Other information:
During this project, residents, businesses, and motorists should expect occasional day time lane closures and construction noise from heavy equipment. Caltrans noise and vibration specialists will monitor the work to ensure that the noise levels don’t exceed federal and state mandated noise levels.

Expected work schedule: Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Occasional closures of lanes and ramps may occur.

Eastound I-210 RoseJam: A Timeline

Crew repaving eastbound 210

Friday, August 12, 2016

10 on 10: 10-Hour Full Closure of Eastbound I-10 at I-605 for Sign Project

Caltrans will close all lanes of eastbound I-10 at I-605 on Sunday, August 14, 4:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to upgrade several green overhead sign panels.  All eastbound I-10 traffic will be detoured onto southbound I-605 while all lanes are closed.  As work progresses, eastbound lanes may open early.  
Signed detours will be posted.

Motorists should consider alternate routes and expect delays.

10 on 10
Gallery from last project.
To ensure the safety of motorists and maintenance crews, the lanes must be closed.  Crews will upgrade the green sign panels with new, high reflective panels to enhance motorist safety.

er to Be Work Zone Alert.  The CHP will be on duty.

Also, be sure to check Quickmap:

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Caltrans Scalers Use High Pressure Airbags to Remove Rocks along SR-150 in Ventura County

Since Monday, August 8, Caltrans scalers have been clearing loose rocks from slopes along SR-150, 280-feet above the highway. These slopes are just west of just west of Lake Casitas in Northern Ventura County. 

During this climb, department scalers used Savatech 115 psi airbags that were attached to an air compressor to dislodge loose rocks.  

The airbags are inserted into a crack or space behind the rock(s) that need to be removed.  As the airbags are inflated, they expand and cause the rock(s) to fall.  

The airbags are one of the many tools that department scalers use to safely and cost effectively enhance highway safety. 

So far scalers and the clean-up crew below have removed nearly 190 yards of rock. According to our district geologist, the slopes are comprised of sandstone. 

This is the last day of the scaling operation, work is expected to finish by 3 p.m., so motorists should expect 30-minute delays on this section of SR-150.

Here’s a past example of our rock scalers at work (with Mike Row!!!):

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Roadside Rest Areas are Great Place to Stretch, Nap, Catch Pokémons

If you're traveling the State Highway System in California this summer, be sure to take advantage of Caltrans' network of more than 50 Safety Roadside Rest Areas. These rest areas are a great place to get out and stretch, use the restroom, take a nap, or get refreshments. Plus, Safety Roadside Rest Areas now feature wild Pokemon, Pokestops, and Pokemon Gyms!

Safety reminder: Distracted driving is NEVER okay, and that means driving while playing Pokemon Go (or chess, Pictionary, Clue, Uno, etc.) and urges game enthusiasts of all stripes to pull over at a Rest Area to play.  

Check out the video below for more info on California's Safety Roadside Rest Areas.

Monday, August 8, 2016

RoseJam Returns! 34-Hour Weekend Closures on Eastbound I-210 in Pasadena

Brace yourselves! RoseJam continues this weekend as Caltrans closes the eastbound Foothill Freeway (I-210) between Mountain Street and Lake Avenue in Pasadena for 34-hours on two separate weekends. The first closure will begin Saturday, August 13 at 7 p.m. and continue through Monday, August 15 at 5 a.m.
The eastbound I-210 connector to westbound SR-134, along with the eastbound I-210 Lincoln Avenue and Mountain Street on-ramps will also be closed during the weekend closures.

The closures are part of a $148.5 million pavement rehabilitation project, where over 77 freeway lanes miles along I-210 between Glendale and Pasadena are being improved. Once the project is completed in 2019, the new surface will provide a smoother, safer drive for motorists and minimize the need for further lane closures in the future.

So what should you do to prepare for the second round of RoseJam closures? First, we recommend that you avoid the area. Not only will you likely be stuck in traffic and experience heavy delays on eastbound I-210, but as an active construction site, vehicles and workers will be entering and exiting the work zone. Should you have weekend plans and need to use I-210, we strongly advise you to plan ahead, use alternate routes, and check traffic conditions before leaving by calling 511 or visiting the Caltrans QuickMap.

Keep updated throughout the weekend closures on RoseJam's progress by following us on Twitter We'd like to remind you to always Be Work Zone Alert.
RoseJam 210 Weekend Closures
Gallery of previous RoseJam work. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Taking aim at stormwater pollution

At eight locations in Ventura County along US Highway 101, Austin Vault Sand Filters will be built, similar to
this one (at right) shown under construction along I-5 near Carmenita Road in Los Angeles County.

A completed Austin Vault Sand Filter in the Caltrans I-5 project at Alondra Boulevard in Los Angeles County.

Some of Caltrans’ latest efforts for stormwater pollution control are beginning to take shape in Ventura County along US Highway 101 and State Route 33.

Using recognized Best Management Practices (BMPs) for curtailing pollution in runoff from the state highway system, Caltrans District 7 is working at more than two dozen locations in Ventura County, from the city of Ventura on the west to Thousand Oaks on the east, including the cities of Camarillo and Oxnard.

The projects aim to achieve measurable reductions in trash, heavy metals and other pollutants affecting the Ventura River Watershed in western Ventura County and the Calleguas Creek Watershed in the eastern area of the county.

At eight locations along US Highway 101, Caltrans is constructing Austin Vault Sand Filters, which remove fine sediment and particulate pollutants through two concrete-lined chambers – the first is a sedimentation vault, and the second is a filtering vault. The sand filter limits runoff material including oil and grease, heavy metals and bacteria.

Also along US 101, Caltrans plans to create 21 vegetated areas for pollution control, known as biofiltration strips and biofiltration swales.

Biofiltration strips use grasses, ground cover and other plantings to capture and biologically degrade pollutants carried by stormwater. They also reduce the velocity and volume of stormwater runoff.

Biofiltration swales receive and direct the flow of stormwater while helping to degrade pollutants in the runoff.

Meanwhile, at seven locations along State Route 33 in and near Ventura, Caltrans is working to install Gross Solids Removal Devices and drainage modifications. GSRDs capture trash and larger debris in stormwater.

All of these facilities are being constructed under two Caltrans projects that have a total dollar value of $9.6 million, from state and federal funds.

Beginning in June, contractors placed concrete barriers at work zones along Highway 33 and US 101, prompting inquiries from local news reporters and members of the public alike.

The temporary barriers are expected to remain in place approximately until the end of 2016. Construction of the two projects is estimated to be completed in spring or summer 2017.

Big Green Sign Project on San Bernardino Freeway (I-10)/San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605) Interchange on Sunday, Aug. 7, 5 a.m. to Noon

EB 10 to SB 605 overhead sign, 872016
Galley: Caltrans sign crew remember seen replacing sign panels above I-10, 8/7/2016
A series of closures at the interchange will occur in August to replace and realign green overhead signs.

UPDATE: #BigGreenSignProject EB connector 10 to 605 closed 8/7, 5a-noon in #BaldwinPark, expect delays. Plan ahead.
— Caltrans District 7 (@CaltransDist7) August 4, 2016

Caltrans will close the eastbound I-10 connector to southbound I-605 and the eastbound I-10 Garvey Avenue on-ramp on Sunday, August 7 from 5 a.m. to noon to replace 5 overhead sign panels.  

Signed detours will be posted. Motorists should consider alternate routes and expect delays.

To ensure the safety of motorists and maintenance crews, the connector must be closed.  Crews will use heavy equipment to replace sign panels.   

Remember to Be Work Zone Alert.  The CHP will be on duty.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Caltrans Solar Farm Reduces Energy Consumption by Two-Thirds!

Imagine that you could reduce energy consumption at your house by two-thirds. Would you do it? Caltrans would, and, in fact, Caltrans has! 

Caltrans has constructed a one mega-watt solar farm in Fontana, California, that powers a LEED gold-certified traffic management center in District 8. The facility—the largest solar farm in Caltrans—reduces grid-based energy consumption by two-thirds. It's part of Caltrans' commitment to preserving and enhancing California's assets by minimizing the impacts of our facilities.

Check out the Fontana solar farm in the video below.

Monday, August 1, 2016

McClure Tunnel Closures for Maintenance

McClure Tunnel Washing and Maintenance 7/31/2016 and 8/1/2016
Another late night freeway closure in Los Angeles?  Yes, that’s right, it can be inconvenient.  Sometimes late-night closures can be a tough pill to swallow, but they are necessary.

To ensure the safety of motorists and our maintenance and contractor construction crews, Caltrans schedules maintenance and construction work on highways and freeways throughout the district when traffic volumes are lower (yes, there is actually a part of the day when traffic volumes are lower in Los Angeles County).    

Interesting facts:  
Pacific Coast Highway (SR-1) at the junction with I-10 has an annual average daily traffic count (AADT) of 63,000 vehicles.  I-10 has an AADT of 148,000 vehicles.  That’s average of 105,500 vehicles a day!

Check our traffic census page for the AADT’s for routes statewide:

Last night (Sunday, July 31 into August 1), the tunnel washing crew removed soot from the walls and ceiling of the McClure tunnel.  Crews removed graffiti from the walls, repaired the delineators on the center median, sealed cracks in the pavement, and removed vegetation along the landscape near the tunnel entrance and exit.  

Within the next week, a paving project is expected to occur (we’ll provide more details once the schedule is approved by the district traffic management office engineers).
Closure Information:
Caltrans will close all lanes of the SR-1/I-10 Interchange at the McClure Tunnel for tunnel washing, crack sealing, brush removal, tree trimming, sweeping, and graffiti remove on the following days and nights:

Sunday, July 31, 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Monday, August 1, 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Signed detours will be posted.  Motorists should consider alternate routes and expect delays.

Example of the work (Twitter video from northbound I-405 to northbound I-5 connector):