Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
During the wee hours of the night, the 87,000 pound concrete girder was delivered to the Route 110 job site.

Bridge and Lane Improvements on State Route 110
by  Maria Raptis
Issue Date: 08/2010

Nighttime is the right time for placing bridge girders in Downtown Los Angeles.

[Click on photos to read captions.]

Constructing auxiliary lanes is one way for Caltrans to quickly improve freeway traffic flow and operational safety. But freeway construction in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles – on the route used by many people heading to and from sports and entertainment venues – must be planned like a carefully scripted movie scene.

Such a project is currently under construction on the southbound and northbound Harbor Freeway (SR-110) in Downtown Los Angeles. The $54.9 million project to construct auxiliary lanes and widen bridges will address immediate operational and congestion issues on the SR-110 corridor from south of Washington Boulevard to north of Wilshire Boulevard.

Just past midnight on July 1, right before all work had to cease for the Fourth of July holiday weekend, the freeway was closed completely to install a girder at the 9th Street overcrossing. The 87,000 pound concrete girder was delivered to the job site, hoisted by two heavy-duty cranes, swiveled, and then lowered in place. The entire crane operation took about a half hour.

The improvements within the 1.6 mile construction zone will facilitate a smoother transition between SR-110 and the Santa Monica Freeway (I-10). Motorists, for example, who are traveling southbound on SR-110 when entering from 8th Street will be able to remain in one lane to more easily and safely access eastbound I-10.

Separated from the mainline lanes, auxiliary lanes are not long enough to add capacity to the freeway system. They do, however, facilitate merges between interchanges and improve operation of the existing travel lanes.

On northbound SR-110, the project will add one auxiliary lane from I-10 to 6th Street and widen the 8th Street, 9th Street and Olympic Boulevard off-ramps. On southbound SR-110, one auxiliary lane will be added between Olympic Boulevard and 4th Street, and the 11th Street on-ramp will be widened. Two overcrossing bridges at 9th Street and Olympic Boulevard will be widened.

“The weaving maneuver will be eliminated completely,” said Sam Ekrami, Central area manager, Project Management. “With the additional lane and weaving distance improved along southbound SR-110, vehicular traffic conflicts will be reduced, traffic flow will improve and congestion will ease. Motorists will benefit by the upgraded access to Downtown LA.”

Like many of District 7’s 42 freeways and highways, this section of SR-110 through the Downtown corridor carries a substantial amount of traffic during the peak commute periods. Adding to already high traffic volumes is the traffic generated by large events at local venues.

“Coordinating freeway construction in the heart of LA is a challenge,” said Simon Wang, the project’s resident engineer. “It’s a team effort between Caltrans and the City of Los Angeles to divert vehicular traffic heading to and from Staples Center, LA Live, USC, Dodger Stadium and the Coliseum.”

Many people are also working behind the scenes to complete the project by fall 2012. Design, construction, project management, traffic management and public affairs staff from Caltrans and the City of Los Angeles meet weekly to keep the project on track and make sure the work is completed on time and under budget. Just like in the movies.

The girder was lowered in place; the entire crane operation took about 30 minutes.

The girder was securely and simultaneously hoisted by two heavy duty cranes from the delivery truck and then swiveled to set on the abutments.