On the Road with Maintenance Superintendent John Acosta
To supervise many of our maintenance crews it takes leadership, dedication, and a bit of creativity. According to many sources, Superintendent John Acosta has just that.
Everyday Caltrans maintenance crews perform the tough task of trying to keep our freeways and highways operational. With cars, trucks, and semis flying by them at high speeds while they are working on the roadside, maintenance workers take risks to accomplish daunting tasks that on some occasions goes unnoticed by the general public.
Acosta, a 22-year veteran of Caltrans Maintenance Division, is a superintendent in the District 7’s East Maintenance Region where he oversees five supervisors who manage two road maintenance crews, two landscaping crews, and one regional tree trimming crew.
Geographically, Acosta’s area includes San Gabriel Canyon Road (SR-39) and portions of the Foothill Freeway (I-210), which is in Los Angeles County. “John is part of the team that helps us accomplish our short-term and long-term objectives,” said East Region Maintenance Manager Al Sanchez. “
Acosta’s crews on SR-39 have to contend with many of the challenges that come along with having a highway in the Angeles National Forest. “Keeping the weeds down and clearing rock and mudslides is a huge challenge. One way or another, we have to get the job done,” said Acosta.
Due to the lack of resources, funds and personnel, Acosta’s crews have had to improvise to accomplish their work. “Our crews are able to respond to problem areas by borrowing personnel from other crews to perform what we call gang maintenance,” said Acosta. Gang maintenance helps to resolve potential hazards that Acosta and others have identified. Additionally, during “gang maintenance” operations, landscaping, plumbing, lighting, graffiti abatement, striping and other tasks are performed at the same time. “It is best to try to stay ahead of things, so down the road the job will be a lot easier.”
“I know I have good crews,” said Acosta. Cross-training and reviewing what the expectations are for the crews are what Acosta believes to be essential in helping them work effectively. “Before working on the freeway, personnel should familiarize themselves with the equipment, procedures, and Chapter 8 of Maintenance Manual.” As part of the crossing-training effort, Acosta’s crews have repaired a few slabs in the East Region, saving the state money, and improving safety. (See related story “They Don’t Just Maintain the Roads, They Fix’em).
Acosta is not all about business. When he is not at work, the long time Whittier resident is he refurbishing a ‘46 Chevy, ‘57 Chevy, and ‘60 sedan.