Friday, December 22, 2017

Paving the way for a new and improved I-210 corridor

With the end of 2017 approaching, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is paving the way for a new, smoother ride through the Interstate 210 (Foothill Freeway) corridor.

The I-210 Pavement Rehabilitation Project started in spring 2015, and is now more than 80 percent complete.

When the project is scheduled for completion in Summer 2018, a nearly 10-mile stretch of I-210 will have new pavement that will provide a smoother ride for decades to come. The project also adds new concrete barriers and metal beam guardrail for the safety of drivers, new sign structures and permanent lighting at three tunnels located at the I-210/State Route 134 (Ventura Freeway) connectors to enhance visibility.

Nearly 90 lane miles of pavement is being replaced on I-210 from
La Crescenta-Montrose area of Los Angeles County to Pasadena
There will be a break in road work, which also means no closures, from Dec. 22 to Jan. 2 in observance of the Christmas and New Year's holidays.

But here is a look ahead at what is on the project agenda for 2018:

  • Eastbound I-210 Angeles Crest Highway on-ramp closures:
Starting Jan. 2, 2018, the Angeles Crest Highway on-ramps (both northbound and southbound) to eastbound I-210 will be closed for an extended period of time. During the closure, crews will be repaving the road across from the ramps.

Eastbound I-210 Angeles Crest on-ramp just before Foothill Boulevard
will be closed starting the night of Jan. 2, 2018.
Eastbound I-210 Angeles Crest Highway on-ramp just past Foothill Boulevard
will be closed starting the night of Jan. 2, 2018
The closures are for up to 45 days, but crews have typically been able to reopen ramps in about 30 days.

Drivers can access eastbound I-210 from Foothill Boulevard at the Foothill undercrossing just past Georgian Road.

Starting Jan. 2, both eastbound I-210 Angeles Crest Highway on-ramps will be closed for up to 45 days.

  • Spall repairs on Eastbound/Westbound I-210 in La Crescenta-Montrose area
Also beginning Jan. 2, 2018, crews will perform spall repairs at the eastbound and westbound Dunsmore Avenue, New York Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue undercrossings. Joint seals will also be installed to help prevent water and other material from infiltrating the concrete, which can cause wear and tear on the pavement and slabs.


On left: Example of joint seals that need repairs. On right: joint seals in good, working condition

  • Installation of Permanent Tunnel Lighting

Since early December, crews are working two different shifts to expedite work on the installation of permanent tunnel lighting at the westbound I-210 connector to the California/Del Mar Boulevard exit. To do this, the connector has been closed Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 a.m.

The tunnel is about 560 feet long with hundreds of lights connected through different mechanisms to turn on simultaneously. The work is expected to be completed by mid-January.

Crews will take a break for the Christmas and New Year's holidays before resuming work.Jan. 2.
The westbound I-210 connector to California/Del Mar Boulevard
has been closed 11 a.m. to 6 a.m. Monday-Friday for crews to install permanent tunnel lighting.

Intermittent closures will continue for various lanes, ramps and connectors Monday through Friday between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. Some closures may start and end later. The closure area is I-210 westbound from Walnut Street to Lowell Avenue, I-210 eastbound from Lowell Avenue to Mountain Street and I-210 eastbound from the State Route 134 connector to Lake Avenue

Drivers should use caution, plan ahead and anticipate any delays due to construction. Caltrans QuickMap is a great source for travel information, including traffic flow, closures, message signs and CHP incidents. The QuickMap app is also available for free on Google Play or the Apple Store.

We appreciate the public's patience and understanding as we continue to provide a safe and accessible transportation system for the millions of people who call Los Angeles and Ventura County home.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Operation Snowflake: What goes into closing I-5 Grapevine

For anyone traveling from the San Joaquin  and Central Valley to Southern California, or vise versa, Interstate 5 at the Grapevine is a major north/south artery for drivers.

The Grapevine is about a 20-mile stretch of I-5 near the Los Angeles/Kern County line that goes through the mountains, over Tejon Pass, linking Southern California with the San Joaquin Valley.
The Grapevine is stretch of Interstate 5 that goes through mountains near the Los Angeles/Kern County line,
linking the Central Valley with Southern California
So when winter weather conditions prompts the closure of I-5 on the Grapevine, there are major traffic implications for drivers.

It is why the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the California Highway Patrol (CHP) have implemented a plan to help keep the freeway clear and decide whether a closure of the Grapevine is needed for the safety of drivers.


Called "Operation Snowflake,", it is a coordinated effort between Caltrans and CHP that lays out a series of factors that determine when any closure is needed.

Once inclement weather is forecasted, Caltrans activates a snow removal crew that can monitor and observe conditions on I-5. If snow is falling and sticking to the roadway, an incident command post is set up in Lebec, near the base of Tejon Pass. CHP may conduct pacing or escorting operations over the pass to safely move traffic. A Caltrans base crew is also dispatched to perform clean-up operations, which includes sanding and clearing roads.
Because snow and icy conditions are typically limited to the summit at Tejon Pass, snow chains are not permitted on the Grapevine. The area topography makes it challenging to create a feasible location to remove chains and move a high volume of traffic efficiently.
Factoring in road conditions, no chain controls, and the ability to consistently clear roads and conduct clean-up operations to keep roads safe to drive, a closure of I-5 is sometimes necessary.

There are a variety of detours drivers can take
to get around the Grapevine to Southern California
When I-5 is closed, there are detour options around the Grapevine available for drivers:

-State Route 58: Access from I-5 near Buttonwillow, State Route 99 in Bakersfield. Take SR-58 through Bakersfield and Tehachapi, then State Route 14 (Antelope Valley Freeway) to I-5 south of Santa Clarita.

-State Route 166 (Maricopa Highway:) Access from I-5 and SR-99 north of where I-5 and State Route 99 meet. Take west to U.S. 101 in Santa Maria.

-Highway 46: Access from I-5 near Lost Hills, SR-99 just south of Calico. Take west to U.S. 101 near Paso Robles.

-Highway 41: Access from I-5 near Kettleman City, SR-99 south of Fresno. Take west to U.S. 101 near Atascadero.

Typically, closures on the Grapevine last four to six hours, but depending on the severity of ice and snow conditions, could last more than a day.

Caltrans QuickMap is a great resource for travel conditions on state highways and freeways.
Before you get behind the wheel, be sure to check travel conditions with our free QuickMap app, which is available on Google Play and the App Store. Drivers can look at traffic flow, CHP incidents, road closures, chain controls, electronic message sign info and cameras. To access QuickMap online, click here.

Drivers can also get up-to-date information on California freeway and highway conditions by phone by calling the Caltrans Highway Information Network (CHIN) at 1-800-427-ROAD (7623)

And if you are traveling in snowy conditions, follow these guidelines:
-Check brakes, windshield wipers, defroster, heater, and exhaust system to ensure they are in working order.
-Check tires to make sure they are properly inflated and the tread in good condition.
-Always carry chains
-Allow extra time
-Be more observant and slow down. Snow and ice make stopping distances much longer, so keep a safe distance between the vehicle in front of you.
-Bring food, water, extra clothing and blankets, flashlight and ice scraper.
 Your safety is our top priority. We hope these tips and guidance on winter driving will help make your trips through the mountains safe and pleasant this winter.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Caltrans assists emergency personnel in aftermath of Thomas Fire

During one of the most destructive fires in modern California history, Caltrans District 7 is doing its part to help emergency response personnel with their firefighting efforts in Ventura County.
Since Dec. 4, the so-called Thomas Fire has scorched more than 271,000 acres across Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, destroying more than 1,000 structures that have come into its path.

A tree topples onto Highway 150 north of Santa Paula. Caltrans crews have been working tirelessly
to keep highways in fire area clear of debris.
The Thomas Fire has also prompted closures on State Routes 33, 126, 150 and U.S. 101, and State Routes 154 and 192 in Santa Barbara County, requiring debris clean-up, removing damaged trees and other immediate maintenance tasks to keep roads clear and allow law enforcement and fire personnel to move through the area safely.

Caltrans maintenance crews clear fallen debris from State Route 33 north of Ojai.
Caltrans crews along State Route 33 north of Ojai removing trees damaged by Thomas Fire.

The Caltrans Ojai Maintenance Crew has been working non-stop along State Route 33 since the fire started. In addition to clearing Highway 33, the Ojai Maintenance Crew used a 3,000 gallon water tanker to provide water for fire personnel in an area of the Los Padres National Forest where there are no hydrants.
Caltrans water tanker provides valuable resource for firefighters who don't have access to fire hydrants
along State Route 33 (Photo Courtesy: Ryan White/Ojai Maintenance Station Equipment Operator)
In just over two weeks, the Thomas Fire has stretched deep into eastern Ventura County near Fillmore, west into the city of Ventura, jumping the Ventura/Santa Barbara County line, and north into the Ojai Valley and Los Padres National Forest. It is an area filled with steep, rugged terrain that has burned near and above State Routes 33 and 150.

Slopes above State Route 33 in Rose Valley that were burned in Thomas Fire.
Burned hillsides along State Route 33 near Wheeler Gorge in Los Padres National Forest.
The burned landscape will require action from Caltrans to help secure hillsides, and prevent the potential threat of mud and debris slides during the winter that could carry material onto the highway.

Once it is safe to enter the burn area, one of the first things Caltrans does is assess the extent and nature of the damage. Then Caltrans will start the process of stabilizing slopes and conducting erosion control. This may include hydroseeding, adding mulch and straw blankets, and clearing and repairing drainage systems and culverts that help control water run-off. Any repairs for other fire-related damage to signs, guardrails and fencing will also be made.

Repairs to burn areas and other mitigation measures near Caltrans roadways have been done in the area in the past.  Back in November, Caltrans placed temporary concrete barriers (commonly known as "K-rails") along northbound State Route 33 to control stormwater runoff in an area that burned between Ventura and Ojai in a late October wildfire.

In Los Padres National Forest, close to where the Thomas Fire burned, Caltrans is working on a $6 million project to protect State Route 33 from erosion. The project is adjacent to the North Fork Matilija Creek about four miles north of Ojai, and involves building a 500-foot-long wall to stabilize a slope that has been undermined by erosion.

Project along State Route 33 north of Ojai to help stabilize a slope that has been undermined by erosion.
Due to the large and unprecedented scale of the Thomas Fire, recovery efforts will take some time and require close working relationships with contractors, emergency personnel and other partnering public safety agencies.

But mitigation plans are in place and Caltrans is prepared to help keep our state highways safe for travel ahead of any inclement weather or following any emergency incident.

For updates on road closures due to the Thomas Fire, follow us on Twitter @CaltransDist7 and use our QuickMap, or free app available on Google Play or the App Store. For more information about the fire, including recovery efforts, visit and

Monday, December 11, 2017

On Route 33, a Winter Pause in Construction

Looking south at the Caltrans project on State Route 33 in Los Padres National Forest in Ventura County.
In Los Padres National Forest about four miles north of Ojai, Caltrans is building a $6 million project to protect State Route 33 from erosion damage.

The location in rural Ventura County is adjacent to the North Fork Matilija ("mah-TIL-uh-haw") Creek, where Caltrans is working to stabilize a slope that was severely undermined by erosion.

The project involves construction of a 500-foot-long wall, called a soil nail wall, along the streambed to prevent damage to the roadway.

Beginning in December 2017, construction is temporarily suspended for the duration of the winter season due to restrictions in the project environmental permits. Work is scheduled to resume in spring 2018.

During the winter break, Route 33 in the project area has only one lane open for traffic. The current condition of the roadway does not accommodate two lanes.

Temporary traffic signals allow northbound and southbound vehicles, on an alternating basis, to use the single available lane through the construction area.

In preparation for the winter shutdown, Caltrans relocated temporary concrete barriers (“K-rail”) to provide space on the shoulder of the highway for bicyclists to travel safely through the area, which is popular among recreational users and widely known for its scenic beauty.

In spring 2017, Caltrans began working at the location to stabilize the slope.
C.A. Rasmussen Inc., of Valencia, is the contractor on the project, which is scheduled to be completed in late 2018. The project is being built on Caltrans right of way.

The project on State Route 33 is approximately four miles north of the city of Ojai.