CALTRANS ANNOUNCES 2012 EXCELLENCE IN
Washington Boulevard/Paseo Padre Parkway Grade Separation
· City of Fremont
· URS Corporation
· Bay Area Rapid Transit District
· Union Pacific Railroad
Lying at the southeast end of the San Francisco Bay, the city of Fremont is at the junction of multiple rail lines. Starting in the 1870s, Central Pacific, Western Pacific, Southern Pacific, and Union Pacific Railroads all built tracks in Fremont. These lines ran both freight and passenger rail. For the past 40 years, Fremont has aggressively pursued a comprehensive program to eliminate the delays and safety hazards caused by rail operating over local roads, while creating a modern multimodal transportation facility. As Fremont grew to more than 210,000 people, these at-grade crossings became more dangerous for cars, bicycles, and pedestrians and created long delays for hundreds of idling cars waiting for long, slow-moving freight trains to pass. This project eliminated six at-grade railroad crossings, resulting in improved traffic circulation; reduced idling cars and noise; improved pedestrian/bicycle connectivity; a planned future BART Irvington station site; and landscaping beautification throughout.
THE HIGHWAY (RURAL)
SR 299 Buckhorn Projects
· Caltrans District 2
· Humboldt County Association of Governments
The State Route 299 Buckhorn projects consisted of Top of Buckhorn, Bottom of Buckhorn, and Yankee Gulch. These three sections of roadway all had operational deficiencies based on narrow pavement width, tight curvy alignments, limited sight distance, little or no clear recovery zone, nonstandard super-elevation transitions, and 25 mile per hour design speeds. Balancing the desire to retain the rural character with safety and environmental concerns, Caltrans was able to realign Buckhorn Grade with these three very successful projects.
THE HIGHWAY (URBAN)
Marin HOV GAP Closure – Puerto Suello Hill Segment
· Caltrans District 4
· Transportation Authority of Marin
· Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit
· Ghillotti Brothers
The Marin High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Gap Closure – Puerto Suello Hill Segment was the last of a corridor project that closed the 4.5 mile gap in the HOV lane system on U.S. Highway 101 in Marin County from Richardson Bay Bridge to Route 37, providing 17 miles of continuous HOV lanes in both directions. This project built HOV lanes on US-101 through the busiest segment of San Rafael and one of the most congested freeways in California. It also improved safety along US-101 by developing an auxiliary lane system and modifying on-ramp/off-ramp geometrics. The completed project made a marked difference in traffic flow and the area is no longer listed as one of the most congested areas in California. This project added capacity and relieved congestion on US-101 in Marin County and extended the HOV lane system to promote carpooling and transit, and enhanced access, safety, operation, and regional connectivity.
Big Bear Bridge Replacement
· Caltrans District 8
· U.S. Forest Service
The new Big Bear Bridge replaced the original built in 1924. The new bridge was built southwest of the dam and was constructed to safely accommodate bicycles, pedestrians, and vehicles. Because of the prominent location of the bridge, visual impacts were of great concern; retaining walls were constructed to appear to be native rock. Trees were avoided when possible. The existing “rock-chain-pillar” theme was maintained, and the new structure blends form and function. The scenic value of the drive into Big Bear has been improved and the new bridge makes an impressive entry statement for the region.
THE ENVIRONMENTU.S. Highway 101 Wildlife Corridor Safety Project
· Caltrans, District 5
· California Conservation Corps, Los Padres Center
· ElectroBraid Fence Inc.
· U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
San Luis Obispo County is located in an area with a mix of wild lands, agriculture, and urban development, creating an environment where wildlife is regularly close to many local and state roadways. During the past decade, animal-vehicle collisions along a rural stretch of State Route 101 have increased. This area has been identified as a regionally important wildlife linkage corridor for black bears, mountain lions, deer, and other wildlife, connecting the Santa Lucia Mountain Range and Big Sur coastal ranges with the Traverse Ranges. Eight-foot-tall wire mesh wildlife fencing that blends in with the natural environment was placed on a 2.5 mile stretch of U.S. Highway 101 to keep wildlife off the highway and guide them to existing bridges and culverts that provide undercrossings for safe passage, which also improves wildlife connectivity. In addition, four ElectroMats were installed to prevent wildlife from accessing the highway where there are at-grade crossings for local roads and driveways. This project was designed to preserve natural resources, be visually compatible with the surrounding terrain, and enhance the environment by improving safety for both motorists and wildlife.
Hunter Hill Safety Roadside Rest Area
· Caltrans, District 4
· Mark Thomas and Company
· West Bay Builders
The Hunter Hill Safety Roadside Rest Area (SRRA) project upgraded the existing single-unit Hunter Hill SRRA located in Solano County. The Hunter Hill project was designed to showcase the specific beauty of the Hunter Hill rest area location, as well as the site’s role as an entrance to the expansive and diverse urban bay area. The features include breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay Area and preserved the waters of the flow through the rest area. Plants were chosen based on their aesthetic and environmental compatibility with flora of the surrounding hillsides. The site composition was designed to create exterior “spaces” that respond to the path of the sun, wind currents and breezes, is sheltered from traffic noise, and captures the magnificent views from various elevated vantage points. The new construction enhances the panoramic views, provides new features, such as a vending machine area, clean and modern restroom facilities, pet area, and peaceful picnic area with plenty of space to run around, stretch your legs or sit and rest.
· Caltrans Division of Traffic Operations
The Caltrans Division of Traffic Operations launched a new and exciting interactive traveler information website, “QuickMap.” This innovative web-based tool, will greatly assist California travelers statewide as part of the paradigm shift into the future of roadway travel.
The QuickMap website, which was previously known as CA511 Traveler Information, allows the public access to highway information 24/7. The new website has many interactive and diverse features, which includes traffic incidents, chain controls, lane closures, changeable message signs, traffic speeds, camera snapshots, and links to regional 511s. By integrating these and other components into one tool, QuickMap is an essential and time-saving device when traveling.
Napa 121 Duhig Road Safety Project
· Caltrans District 4
· Caltrans District 4, Design Office (SHOPP)
· Caltrans District 4, Construction Office (North Counties)
· County of Napa
The Napa State Route 121 project widened shoulders in both directions, upgraded two horizontal curve radii, and realigned Duhig Road where it intersects with SR-121. These improvements enhanced functional efficiency, eliminated flood-prone vertical sags, and greatly improved the safety and operation of the highway. It also improved the maintainability of this segment of the State Highway System. The finished project not only improved safety, but is also compatible with surrounding environmental features, including enhancements to the natural resources, such as a natural-bottom fish passage on E. Hiuchica Creek.
HISTORIC PRESERVATION/CULTURAL ENHANCEMENT
1st Street Viaduct Widening
· Caltrans District 7, Division of Environmental Planning
· City of Los Angeles, Department of Public Works, Bureau of Engineering – Bridge Improvement Program
· Federal Highway Administration
· California Office of Historic Preservation
The 1st Street Viaduct is one of 12 historically significant bridges spanning the Los Angeles River in the city of Los Angeles. It is also an important east-west regional transportation link in and out of downtown Los Angeles. The viaduct was widened by 26 feet to accommodate a new light rail line and make critical safety improvements. The project is located in a highly urbanized area. Due to its sensitive location, the project was completed with the fewest possible environmental impacts. Crossing over the river in the westerly direction has always provided a dramatic view of Los Angeles’ growing skyline. With the widening project, not only has this view become more panoramic, it also allows a smoother and safer crossing for vehicles and light rail. Because the integrity of the historic viaduct was preserved, it serves as an educational tool that demonstrates the growth and history of Los Angeles.
MAINTENANCE – OPERATIONS OR EQUIPMENT
Salt Brine for Anti-Icing
· Caltrans District 3, Maintenance
Caltrans District 3 is responsible for snow removal operations on approximately 1,330 highway lane miles over 10 routes and seven counties. Snow and ice control is one of the district’s most costly operations. Salt Brine Anti-Icing techniques save time, are cost effective and safer for workers and motorists, and they are more environmentally friendly than other methods. Salt brine-treated highways and bridges will resists frost for several days per application, reducing the time chain controls are in effect and the amount of traction sand used, significantly reducing chain control and sweeper employees’ exposure to moving traffic. Also, with less sand on the roadway, visual quality is enhanced in the scenic rural communities of the Sierra Nevada. More importantly, there are fewer delays due to the reduced amount of time Caltrans needs to be on the travel way and there is better road delineation resulting safer conditions for workers and the motoring public.
CONTEXT SENSITIVE SOLUTIONS
Highway 99 Soundwall Community Safety and Safety and Enhancement Project, Phase 1
· Caltrans District 3, Division of Planning & Local Assistance
· Caltrans District 3, Division of Maintenance
· Caltrans District 3, Division of Right of Way
· City of Sacramento, Neighborhood Services
The Highway 99 Soundwall Community Safety and Enhancement Project represents an innovative and collaborative approach to restore aesthetics and safety to a community. State right-of-way, located between a soundwall and adjacent private properties along Highway 99, served as a thoroughfare for criminal activity. Also, the breeches in the soundwall provided a foundation for elaborate homeless camps. The state of the area blighted the neighborhood, while considerable resources were being spent for ongoing clean-up of homeless camps, litter, drug paraphernalia, illegally dumped materials, and trimming of overgrown trees and vegetation. The state right-of-way was “sold” – the underlying fee of $1 was waived – to adjacent property owners, closing the breeches in the soundwall and allowing backyard fences and property line to be extended to the soundwall. This shifted maintenance responsibilities from the state to the adjacent property owners and eliminated access to the state right-of-way. The project enhanced the environment by converting a hazardous, blighted section into an aesthetically pleasing area. The increased safety and improved aesthetics provided to residents was “priceless.”
Soundwall Flood Release Panel
· Caltrans District 5
· Prototype Source, Inc.
· Santa Barbara County Association of Governments
· FinCo Fabrication
Heavy storms damaged a soundwall and homes along a stretch of U.S. Highway 101 in Santa Barbara due to the continuous barrier created by the soundwall that obstructed the passage of flood waters. It was urgent that the soundwall be re-designed. In order for flood waters to pass through, the soundwall would need to have continuous large openings, but this would render the soundwall unable to block freeway noise. A flood release mechanism would be needed. However, no such plan, provision, or specification was available in Caltrans’ design manuals and no example could be found elsewhere. Therefore, the project team developed moveable flood release panels. The design solved the seemingly opposite of letting water through and keeping noise out. They operate automatically with no energy usage, are long lasting and resist impact, moisture, graffiti and weather extremes. The panels successfully duplicated the texture and color of the stucco soundwalls to which they are mounted, resulting in a cohesive appearance. The neighborhood residents enjoy the noise reduction and the peace of mind that flood waters will pass through.
· Caltrans Division of Engineering Services
· Caltrans District 4
The MacArthur Maze, also known as the San Francisco Bay Bridge Distribution Structure, is one of the largest freeway interchanges in the country. It’s considered a lifeline route intersecting Interstates 80, 580, and 880, and is the main hub for all directions of traffic on the east side of the bay. Significant damage occurred to the structure during the Loma Prieta earthquake, resulting in the initiation of a seismic retrofit project. This was not a simple task due to the railroad tracks, multiple utilities, and the East Bay Municipal Utility District Channel that all converge in one general area. Because of extensive planning of the retrofit strategy, there were very limited traffic closures during the construction phase, limiting the impact to the traveling public. More importantly, the structure will now be able to withstand a major earthquake.
PUBLIC AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS
Way2Tahoe – Echo Summit
· Caltrans District 3
· C.C. Myers, Inc.
· ProProse Social Marketing
· Ruyak Media
The Way2Tahoe campaign was created to inform the public of the upcoming two-week full closure and months of one-way alternating traffic at Echo Summit on Highway 50, and preempt concerns and perceptions that the project would completely sever the transportation and economic lifelines to the South Lake Tahoe area. Instead, the campaign heavily emphasized that South Lake Tahoe was “open for business.” A dedicated website was created, which resulted on more than 103,000 visitors. There were more than 52,000 views on Facebook, and more than 32 million impressions via online media. The campaign generated more than $150,000 in added value through bonus spots, additional traffic sponsorships and embedded messages on traffic reports. Partnership development and stakeholder engagement also helped extend the budget. Partnerships were established with the California Automobile Association, California Welcome Centers, 511 in Sacramento and the Bay area, Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce, Amador Council of Tourism, California Trucking Association, and local businesses. These contributions combined with the added value of the outreach that more than doubled the campaign budget, resulting, in minimal impact to businesses and a tremendously successful campaign.