Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
Crews at work replacing lamps.

Tunnel Cleaning on the Foothill Freeway in Pasadena
by  Patrick Chandler
Issue Date: 07/2013

Cleaning the walls helps to illuminate the tunnel and improves the visibility of the roadway

A strike team of Caltrans maintenance crews using brooms, rags, respirators, elbow grease, window cleaner, suited up in Tivek suits to spruce up a tunnel that looked more like a chimney.

Overnight on April 27, about 60 crew members from Caltrans District 7 North Region Maintenance and Special Crews joined forces to work throughout the night to replace lamp sockets and clean the walls of the southbound Interstate 210 to the eastbound I-210 tunnels, known as the Pasadena Tunnels.

 “Crews quickly organized to clean and re-lamp over 800 lamps in 268 fixtures in several different locations,” said Electrical Superintendent Jesus “Jay” Rodriguez.

 Much like a hive of busy worker bees crew members dressed in white, they generously applied cleaning agents to remove the silt that accumulated on the light fixtures and the walls. The objective was to increase the lighting system to where all lamps, fixtures and electrical wiring was clean and operated at 95 percent or better to where 95 to 100% of everything worked properly.

 “Bags and bags of used rags filled the baskets and platforms as crews worked into the night,” said Rodriguez. “The lamps now have full illumination.”

“Even with dust clinging to their faces and clothes, workers continued into the early dawn, without interruption,” said Rodriguez. "A safe and distraction-free work zone is largely made possible from additional Highway Patrol units that provide added protection for our workers."

Through Caltrans' Maintenance Zone Enhanced Enforcement Program (MAZEEP), California Highway Patrol units are placed specifically in the work zone to enforce the posted work zone speed limits, reduce potential incidents and maximize work zone safety.

 The team made pass after pass, removing layers of dirt from the walls, with some members standing on trucks and some on the ground. “Using brooms, the crews were able to bring out the white shine of the walls,” said Rodriguez.

“Cleaning the walls helps to illuminate the tunnel and improves the visibility of the roadway,” said Maintenance Superintendent Edward Toledo. “By using our personnel and resources, we were able to quickly address community and safety concerns.”

 The walls should keep their shine for at least six months, but the positive effects will last much longer.

“A gang maintenance operation is an innovative way to allow for several crews to work in one closure to reduce lane closures, and MAZEEP and signage costs,” said Toledo.

 After the crews finished cleaning the walls and changing the lamps in the two tunnels, landscape crews with community service workers cleared the foliage and litter outside of the tunnels. When the sun came up, all that was left to clean was the crew members themselves, their tools and Tivek suits. Now, it was they who looked like chimneys.



Crews at work replacing light fixtures and lamps. A trio of crew members clear the wall of silt. A single crew member leaves a clean streak.