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Each year, Caltrans highlights the best of its work and the work of its partners through the annual Caltrans Excellence in Transportation Awards Program. Caltrans received nearly 100 entries from Caltrans districts and programs, public agencies, private contractors, and consultants across the state. Congratulations to everyone who worked hard to make these projects a reality by helping provide positive and measurable improvements in transportation, resulting in a lasting benefit to the state of California.
State Route 89 Mousehole Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvement Project
The State Route 89 Mousehole Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvement Project constructed a 12-foot wide pedestrian and bicycle tunnel under the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) railway for bicycles and pedestrians who were previously sharing the railroad undercrossing with vehicle traffic. The project is located in the Town of Truckee in Nevada County and is immediately adjacent to the unincorporated portion of Placer County within Caltrans and UPRR right of way. Built in 1928, the existing 24-foot wide concrete vehicle tunnel is locally referred to as the Mousehole because of its arch shape. With two travel lanes of traffic and virtually no roadside shoulders, the absence of any pedestrian or bicycle facility through the Mousehole was of great concern to the community and the region. SR-89 is a heavily used access point connecting Interstate 80 to Lake Tahoe and Truckee.
Young’s Bar Wall
In northeastern Humboldt County, approximately 10 miles west of Weitchpec, State Route 169 bisects the Yurok Indian Reservation. At that location, Caltrans worked with the Yurok Culture Committee, the Tribal Heritage Preservation Office, the Yurok Transportation Department, and various tribal members to develop a wall façade. This was a collaborative project intended to educate traveling motorists about the history and culture of the Yurok Tribe and to give a visual sense of the area. The wall is intended to resemble the outside of a traditional redwood plank house and required a safety rail and included a ‘sturgeon back’ design as a runner at the base.
SR-91 Corridor Improvement Project
State Route 91 (“the 91”) in Riverside County ranks among the nation's worst commutes. Its 280,000 daily users and news reporters have dubbed it the “Corona Crawl,” due to its reputation for heavy traffic congestion. The Riverside County Transportation Commission began constructing the $1.4 billion SR-91 Corridor Improvement Project in 2014. Using a first-of-its-kind design-build delivery method authorized by the state legislature, the project added the first express lanes to Riverside County, as well as general purpose lanes, auxiliary lanes and an express lane connector between the 91 and Interstate 15. The 91 Project is more than a transportation infrastructure investment, it has enhanced the quality of life for commuters, local businesses and residents. Since opening day, SR-91 Express Lanes users have been experiencing significant time savings. During fiscal year 2017/18, toll revenue of $24.6 million has far surpassed projected revenue of $9.2 million.
Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge
State Route 1 (SR-1) in Big Sur is designated an All-American Road under the National Scenic Highways and Byways program. While roads designated within this program are all unique, SR-1 through Big Sur is considered one of the crown jewels of the program. A landslide that followed the heavy January 2017 rains severely damaged the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge on SR-1 in Monterey County. The original concrete structure, built in 1968, was beyond repair and needed replacement. By February 15, Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge was closed, and SR-1 access to the Big Sur community was cut off from the north. Caltrans quickly determined that a single-span steel girder bridge would replace the structure spanning the 310-foot wide and 100-foot deep canyon. Incredibly, the initial bridge design was completed in just under three weeks, and the seamless partnership between Caltrans and the contractor helped complete processes quickly. To expedite construction, steel girders were pre-fabricated and assembled on site, then “launched” across the canyon. This was California’s first bridge launch on the state highway system. The new $24 million single-span steel girder bridge was opened to the public just eight months after the original concrete structure was condemned, a process that would normally take about 8 years.
Elkhorn Highland Reserve Mitigation Site - Prunedale Improvement Project
Today’s complex environment frequently requires offsite mitigation to balance environmental effects from transportation projects. The Prunedale Improvement Project improved safety and traffic operations along a highly congested stretch of U.S. Highway 101 in northern Monterey County. The project was years in the making and a welcome improvement for the Prunedale community. It also required offsite mitigation for maritime chaparral, oak woodlands and wetlands that are habitat to several rare and endangered plants and animals. Finding a site that conserves natural resources can be difficult, so can finding partners willing to take on the long-term management responsibilities for a mitigation site. New legislation in 2011 and 2012 allowed Caltrans to transfer to the Elkhorn Slough Foundation land and the endowment for long-term management of the offsite mitigation. Caltrans’ partnership with the foundation resulted in permanent protection of 167 acres of wildlands known as the Elkhorn Highlands Reserve. Conserving the native plants at the reserve benefits the region, by playing an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting water quality by reducing or eliminating soil erosion into the waterways. The Elkhorn Highlands Reserve shows how transportation projects can offer opportunities to expand the conservation value of a site by partnering with community organizations and promoting stewardship of California’s environment.
Corning State Roadside Rest Areas
The traveling public rightfully expects a place to take care of basic needs, rest, and recharge when traveling California’s highways. Caltrans strives to provide safe, comfortable, convenient, and accessible rest area facilities to meet the ever-growing needs of highway users. The Interstate 5 Corning northbound and southbound rest areas no longer served that purpose and needed to be rehabilitated. Originally built in 1971, these facilities long outlived their expected 20-year design life and were unable to meet the needs of all users. After struggles with funding and awarding a construction contract, the project was finally completed in November 2017. The reconstructed comfort stations should meet drivers’ needs for at least the next 20 years. The areas incorporate recycling and reuse, simplistic cost-effective design, drought tolerant features, low maintenance landscaping, and eye-catching architectural features. Additional lighting and shared office space for the California Highway Patrol further enhance the safety and security of the facilities. Americans with Disabilities Act accessible facilities and compliant walkways make the entire facility accessible to all users.
Holman Highway 68 Roundabout
The Holman Highway Roundabout represents a new paradigm in transportation design. No longer is it necessary to consider only traffic signals for highly congested intersections. The roundabout solution addressed all of the unique characteristics of the area while relieving congestion, improving emergency response times, and creating a sustainable gateway to the Monterey Peninsula and Pebble Beach Community. The designers maximized roundabout design principles and leveraged the more efficient operations and superior capacity of roundabouts to minimize upstream and downstream roadway improvements. This project cost $8.5 million and replaced a previously approved widening project that had an estimated cost of $21 million and included a bridge replacement, signalized intersection, and a significant visual impact on a scenic corridor. The project was completed in September 2017 within the intended time frame and on-budget with no claims during construction and is a new jewel on the Monterey Peninsula, albeit a much more affordable one.
Route 101 Calabasas Precast Panel Roadway Rehabilitation
Wrong-way and impaired drivers are an increasing risk in highway work zones. Nationally, about 355 people die each year in wrong-way crashes. The Federal Highway Administration estimates 96,626 crashes happened in work zones in 2016, an increase of 7.8 percent over 2015. On the Route 101 Calabasas Precast Panel Roadway Rehabilitation project, Myers & Sons focused on using the Early Action Barrier System approach. This system was originally developed by field superintendents and craft workers who witnessed the sharp increase of wrong-way and impaired drivers entering work zones from the end of the barrier. The system is designed to protect people from errant drivers trying to enter the zone. The key elements in protecting workers from a vehicle threat is establishing appropriate distance between workers and vehicles and slowing entering vehicles to give workers more time to react and move from the area. The barrier system approach exceeds standard Caltrans closure guidelines, has no effect on the driver experience within the work zone, and has minimal effects on vehicles exiting a work zone parallel to traffic.
Marin County State Route 1 Repair Guidelines
State Route 1 draws visitors to state and national parks, natural food farms, and ranches. The natural forces that formed this unique landscape also imperil it. The recurring need for storm and landslide repairs endangers both the beauty and economy of the region. The “Marin County State Routes 1 Guidelines” streamlines repair projects in a complex regulatory environment. State Route 1 serves as a vital corridor along the California coastline for local residents as well as millions of visitors who tour the region. Closure on this highway from frequent storms and landslides threaten residents and businesses, and inconvenience visitors. The Guidelines provide a corridor-centric approach that ensure consistent, accelerated repairs, maintains public safety, and respects the region’s exceptional scenic and environmental qualities.
Swarm Maintenance/GSA 57-Hour Closure
As a result of a planned 57-hour closure of southbound Interstate 5 and southbound I-805 by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) in San Ysidro and the international border with Mexico, Caltrans maintenance crews developed and used a swarm maintenance operation to address routine and needed maintenance activities on the closed segments of both interstates on September 23 and 24, 2017. The crews of the south bay area of District 11 San Diego worked closely with internal and external partners to perform swarm maintenance. This effort involved coordination with internal Caltrans partners, as well as external partners, including the GSA, GSA contractor Atkinson-Clark, and the California Highway Patrol. More than 10 maintenance crews helped accomplish maintenance tasks that would have required over 25 separate closures. The super closure was completed ahead of schedule, with no delay to the prime contractor, using over 80 Caltrans maintenance employees and over 40 public service workers.
Fulton Street Reconstruction Project
The Fulton mall was the historic site of Fresno’s “main street” and the soul of its downtown. In its heyday, Fulton was the central urban destination for a four-county region in California’s San Joaquin Valley that is now home to over 1.6 million people. Closed to vehicle traffic in 1964, these six blocks of Fulton and three cross streets suffered economic decline for over four decades, reaching a state of total decay. Today the Fulton mall no longer exists; in its place is a rejuvenated “main street” with a complete street design using modern technologies and a remarkably nostalgic preservation of the key features and designs of the Fulton mall. The $20 million dollar Fulton street reconstruction project improved the half-mile stretch of the Fulton mall between Tuolumne Street and Inyo Street. The old pedestrian mall was completely removed and reconstructed with a complete streets design that included reintroducing two-way vehicular traffic balanced by pedestrian-oriented amenities.
MacArthur 580 On/Off Ramp Reconstruction
The Interstate 580 MacArthur Ramp Structure Trench Section was constructed in 1936 and consists of two concrete retaining walls with a concrete seal slab between them. The 2016 storms caused increased groundwater seepage, and investigations revealed this was likely due to failed water seals and a failed system designed in 1947 to capture groundwater that passed the seals. Caltrans fixed the issues without cutting the seal slab or compromising the structure. An innovative solution used a permeable subsurface fabric to capture water at the slab joints. New horizontal drains were designed to dewater up to 20 feet behind the walls, and a hollow curb section captures groundwater and storm water. District 4 also worked closely with the City of Oakland to improve bicycle safety at the ramp exit by reducing the lanes from two to one in the eastbound direction, allowing for an 8–foot shoulder for maintenance within the trench section. This unique solution created a safer road for motorists, maintenance workers, and bicyclists and greatly reduced cost and time compared with replacing the retaining structure.
91/Perris Valley Line
The Riverside County Transportation Commission and Metrolink began passenger rail service on the 91/Perris Valley Line, a 24-mile extension from Downtown Riverside to South Perris, on June 6, 2016. The first Metrolink extension since 1994, this new line added four new stations, and commuters in the Perris Valley and Temecula Valley are now connected to the 538-mile network that Metrolink operates in Riverside, Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Bernardino, and northern San Diego counties. Riverside County is one of the nation’s fastest growing areas, and with housing and business booming, the vehicle traffic on local roadways is expected to increase significantly. The 91/Perris Valley Line is helping relieve traffic congestion along its entire route, while offering a new transportation alternative to the community. Since opening the new line, ridership has significantly increased and has introduced communities to a new form of travel. Ridership the first month exceeded expectations and has consistently increased.
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California Department of Transportation
1120 N Street
Sacramento, CA 95814