Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
Maintenance crews finish up the removal or large pices of broker concrete on the southbound I-5 northbound Paramount off-ramp in the #3 lane (all photos are of this operation).

We Don't Just Maintain the Roads, We Fix Them
by  Judy Gish
Issue Date: 11/2011

New road crews learn old paving skills.

In the old days, Caltrans Maintenance workers had to be able to fix just about anything the road could dish out. Those skills are called for less often in the Time of Contractors, when virtually all paving projects are put out for bid.

District 7 would like to change that, both to ensure that road building knowledge is preserved and to afford Maintenance employees enhanced opportunities. To this end, the district has begun performing its own paving operations where possible.

“In the rural districts, they really do everything,” said Dan Freeman, District 7 Deputy Director of Maintenance. “Because we are in an urban area, our folks spend most of their time with more mundane work such as filling potholes and repairing guardrail.”

Maintenance Manager Alphonso Sanchez said employees have performed five paving jobs so far on I-5 and I-10, improving the freeway and saving taxpayer dollars. Training is on the job, with the more experienced workers teaching the others.

On various recent operations, crews have had the chance to use concrete saws, backhoes with jackhammers and various cement finishing tools.

“By the third time around, they looked like pros out there,” said East Region Manager Alphonso Sanchez, who is spearheading the effort. “I am really proud of those guys.”

Do-it-ourselves paving work not only sharpens and augments employees’ skills but allows for a more immediate response to pavement issues.

“We are teaching our people how to do an even better job of serving the public,” Freeman said.

Crews setting in place plastic bond breakers, dowels and expansion joint foam. Worker moving excess concrete away from roller screed and another employee using a vibrator to eliminate air pockets. Crews leveling concrete with roller screed (long bar) and finishing trowels. Concrete finishing work concludes after being raked for traction grooves.