Contractor replaces operating cables on historic Tower Bridge

When looking at Sacramento’s urban landscape a few notable landmarks stand out. The obvious would be the state capitol building cementing Sacramento as the Capital of California. Before viewing the state capital building there is a structure that has represented this city’s identity for over 76 years for many native Sacramento residents. The Tower Bridge stands as the gateway structure most recognizable for local motorists who travel from the city of West Sacramento into downtown Sacramento as well as for the boating enthusiasts throughout the delta region. It is recognized as a state and national historical landmark and is a reminder of this region’s survival during the years of the Great Depression (1929 – 1939)

The bridge’s appearance has changed over the last decade including a paint job in 2002 to a majestic gold color. Then in 2007 the cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento partnered with Caltrans to widen the sidewalks from three to 10 feet allowing for increased recreational activity and safety along the waterfront.

Recently, this bridge has gone through some changes including some maintenance work that required partial lane closures earlier this year. The work was part of a State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP) project that repaired electrical wiring and replaced the original operating cables for the Tower Bridge. The prime contractor was California Engineering Contractors, Inc. from Pleasanton. The total cost to complete the work was about $670,000 and it’s amazing to see how much the cost of doing business has changed over the years. In 1933, the total cost to complete the construction of the bridge was $994,000. If the Tower Bridge were built in today’s market, it’s estimated those costs would be $50 to $60 million dollars.

Additional work on the Tower Bridge will continue in late May to replace the elevated walkway platforms used by maintenance and operational personnel. The District 3 Public Information Office was fortunate enough to get photographs from the contractor as they worked at the very top of the bridge. These photos not only show an impressive view of the Sacramento urban landscape, but also give a bird’s eye perspective to anyone not familiar with the type of work.

A “fisheye view” from the Tower Bridge offers a different perspective of the banks of the Sacramento River as workers from California Engineering Contractors work to replace operating cables on Sacramento’s historic Tower Bridge (State Route 275). Photo courtesy of California Engineering Contractors, Inc.


Above: Workman from California Engineering Contractors, a company that specializes in high-risk, complex projects, spool new wire “ropes” onto the operating system of the Tower Bridge. These specialized ropes are used to lift the center span of bridge for maritime traffic. Photo courtesy of California Engineering Contractors, Inc.)

Upper Right: Storm clouds form up over the State Capitol as a workman tethers himself to the upright center span of the Tower Bridge. Photo courtesy of California Engineering Contractors, Inc.

Lower Right: A worker removes grease buildup from the operating system of the tower bridge. Photo courtesy of California Engineering Contractors, Inc.



On April 28th about 100 people capture a rare photo opportunity. The annual opening of the Meridian Bridge. Photo by Gilbert Mohtes-Chan

Meridian turns out once again
for annual bridge opening

Youngsters skipped morning classes. Workers took breaks from their jobs. Moms brought their toddlers strollers. One by one, they climbed onto the eastern bank of the Sacramento River in the small community of Meridian.

With cameras in hand, they waited eagerly on an overcast April morning for an event that comes just once a year: District 3’s annual opening of the Meridian Bridge on State Highway 20 at the Sutter-Colusa county line. “Looks like the whole town is here,” one woman quipped.

On the bridge deck, more than a dozen Caltrans mechanical and electrical engineers, and Caltrans maintenance workers gathered on the drawbridge preparing for their annual inspection of the structure.

Built in 1977, the 180-foot-long turntable bridge replaced a structure that burned down. Instead of rising above the water like other drawbridges, the Meridian Bridge swings open (pivots from north to south) to parallel the river bank. It is the northern most movable bridge on the Sacramento River.

In the 1950s, an operator was stationed in a concrete building on the west bank, charged with the responsibility of opening and closing the bridge, sometimes as often as four times a day. But the buildup of silt combined with the lack of dredging has made daily operations a thing of the past.

“We haven’t opened up this bridge for vessels in decades,” said Dan Delle, District 3 bridge maintenance supervisor. Indeed, the river today is too shallow for large vessels to traverse this stretch of waterway and require the bridge to be opened.

Some recall the bridge last opened for a river-going vessel in the 1980s. During high water, the vertical clearance is about 10 feet, according to U.S. Coast Guard statistics.

Despite the lack of regular activity, the bridge still needs to be in working order. The Coast Guard requires Caltrans to ensure that.

For the community, the rare opening has become an annual attraction.

As the crowd grew to about 100 spectators shortly after 9 a.m., the whoosh, whoosh sound of trucks and cars traveling east and west on the bridge suddenly turned silent. Minutes later, the western section slowly began to swing open. A motorboat sped by underneath. Excited onlookers snapped photos and shot videos.

With traffic held on both ends of the bridge approach, Caltrans crews moved quickly to inspect the structure. Then the bridge slowly swung back. The crowd dispersed, prepared to return again next year.

On the bridge, Caltrans workers wrapped up their work. No major problems were discovered.
“Everything went smoothly,” Delle said.

D-3 performs combined maintenance operations on
Interstate 80’s notorious “Three Mile Grade”

On April 17, Caltrans Maintenance crews throughout the district were called together to attack a steep, narrow stretch of Interstate 80 (I-80) known the “Three Mile Grade” on the western slope of the Donner Summit. Repairs on this notorious piece of I-80 can only be done every two to three years because a full highway closure is required to allow for safety for workers and the traveling public. The detours for passenger and commercial vehicles are long and notorious and the potential for accidents and long traffic back-ups is very high.

At 5:30 a.m. combined maintenance forces over a hundred members strong closed the interstate and went to work. During the 13 hour-closure, crewmembers performed an impressive amount of work including tree and brush removal, ditch excavation, storm drain cleaning, guardrail repair and replacement, pavement repairs, graffiti removal, sign replacement, debris removal and “to put the icing on the cake” placed new striping along the entire stretch of highway.

At 6:30 p.m. I-80 was reopened and the detours lifted were lifted on schedule. Interstate 80’s “Three Mile Grade” can now remain open -- at least for another two or three years.



Top Right: Operating out of “Cherry Picker” D-3 Equipment Operator II Chris Boone trims overhanging tree limbs from along I-80. (Photo by HQ photography)

Bottom Right: The District 3 sign crew replaced numerous signs during a combined maintenance operation on I-80”s Three-Mile Grade. (Photo by HQ photography)



Caltrans crew contains oily mess near Lake Tahoe

On April 24, Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board staff reported an oily substance in a roadside basin located along southbound State Highway 89 near South Lake Tahoe. Several agencies responded to the call. An on-site investigation ultimately determined that the oily substance was used cooking grease. Equipment Operator II Clinton Neely (above right) and the South Lake Tahoe Maintenance crew used absorbent pads and booms to contain and absorb the spill which amounted to about 20 gallons. The final cleanup was performed by H20 Environmental of Reno, Nevada with oversight by El Dorado County and the Caltrans Hazmat team. A responsible party was never identified. Keeping creeks, streams and rivers free of debris is an everyday challenge for crews in the Tahoe Basin and the response and clean-up of this incident was cited as another example of great team work! Photo by Rob Tucker, Lahontan Regional Water Quality Board

Succession planning is underway in D-3/North Region

You may have heard that D-3 and North Region are engaged in significant succession planning efforts. Due to the age profile of the management team (translation – some of us are getting older) we are facing significant change in both the executive team and the office chief ranks over the next three – four years. We are committed to leaving the District and Region in good hands and we want to ensure that we have folks with the experience and knowledge to step up and fill these potential vacancies.

Succession planning is a process for identifying and developing internal people with the potential to fill key leadership positions in the Department. Succession planning increases the availability of experienced and capable employees that are prepared to assume these roles as they become available. It involves building a series of feeder groups up and down the entire leadership pipeline.

Our objectives are to:

• Identify those with the potential and desire to assume greater responsibility in the organization
• Provide critical development experiences to those that can move into key roles
• Engage the leadership in supporting the development of potential leaders
• Improve employee commitment and retention
• Meet the career development expectations of existing employees

A working succession system results in having more than one good person available for a key job. Real success provides choices between two or more qualified people. In order to have choices, we need to identify who is ready now and what it will take to make others ready when we need them.

To that end we are currently doing the following things:

• Teaching Supervisors Refresher Training focused on Leadership to all of our Supervisors
• Presenting “So you want to be a Manager – the MSP Process” to all of our Supervisors
• Holding Career Planning Interviews between all of our Associate and Range D staff and their Office Chiefs
• Holding Career Planning Interviews with all of our Office Chiefs, their Deputies and myself.

These are the beginning steps in our Succession Planning and as we work our way through the next two or three years you will see additional activities meant to get the District ready for the changes and challenges that we see coming.

Community members express sympathy to a fallen worker from Viking Construction at Caltrans’ Highway 99 auxiliary lane project site. Photo by Gilbert Mohtes-Chan
  More flowers along a path leading to neighboring Bidwell Park.

Chico park users leave tributes for fallen worker

The small handwritten sign and bouquet of flowers hung on a chain-linked fence summed up the sentiment of community members and construction workers alike: “So sorry for your loss.”
Across the way another bouquet adorned a single orange cone along a path running under the Highway 99 overpass at Bidwell Park in Chico.

These small gestures of sympathy came after the worker for a Caltrans contractor died from injuries suffered from a 21-foot fall from the overpass. Brad Capps, 32, of Cottonwood in Shasta County, was a specialty laborer for Viking Construction of Rancho Cordova, the contractor for the Highway 99 auxiliary lane project in Chico. The California Division of Occupational Health and Safety is investigating the accident, which occurred around 4:21 a.m. on May 5.

Mr. Capps is survived by his wife of 14 years, Teresa, and their four young daughters. “His family meant the world to him and Bradley’s face glowed whenever he spoke of his ‘girls,’ ” read his obituary published in the Redding Record Searchlight.

His death came a week after District 3 employees remembered fallen workers during the 22nd annual Caltrans Workers Memorial at the west steps of the state Capitol in Sacramento. The event honored 178 Caltrans workers who have lost their lives on the job.

The accident and memorial are stark reminders that highway construction and maintenance work is one of the most dangerous jobs in the nation. Caltrans “Slow for the Cone Zone” and “Move Over’ campaigns are helping to improve safety in California. Since the Slow for the Cone Zone campaign was launched in 1999, the state’s work zone fatality rate tumbled 63 percent compared to a drop of 34 percent nationally. Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty pointed out the
workers memorial reminds everyone “that safety is a year-round priority.”

A birds-eye view of Interstate 80 in the Truckee River Canyon reveals a new roadway near Floriston. A project to replace worn out concrete between the Truckee River and the California/Nevada State line, which was completed last year, was among the winners at the 25th Annual Associated General Contractors of California’s (AGC) Constructor Awards program.

I-80 Truckee River canyon project wins award

A District 3 project to rebuild Interstate 80 through the Truckee River Canyon was among the projects chosen as winners in the 25th Annual Associated General Contractors of California’s (AGC) Constructor Awards program. The winning projects, along with all of the Constructor Awards finalists named in this year’s competition, were honored as the “best of the best” in California construction during the 2012 Awards Banquet and presentation at The Palace Hotel, San Francisco, on April 14, 2012.

The project, which reconstructed I-80 from Floriston the Nevada State line was one of two project teams that received received an “Excellence in Partnering” award from AGC of California in the “Projects Under $50 Million” category.

Prime Contractor Granite Construction, whose representatives were on hand to receive the award, overcame numerous project challenges which included a narrow work area and the handling of over 30,000 feet of “Quick Movable Barrier” spread over a 5.3 mile-long stretch of Interstate 80.

Procurement Fair brings vendors, buyers together

Photo by Morrell Wise, D-3 Graphic Services.

March 27, more than 28 vendors (pictured above) were matched up with more than 62 buyers, vendors and Cal-Card approvers from Caltrans, Yuba and Glenn Counties as District 3 hosted its annual Procurement Fair. The event, organized by D-3 Small Business Liaison Liza Whitmore, offered an opportunity to connect vendors with buyers in organized by D-3 Small Business Liaison Liza Whitmore, offered an opportunity to connect vendors with buyers in an ongoing effort to encourage purchases that help the Department increase the District’s percentage of purchases from small businesses and Disabled Veterans Business Enterprises (DVBE).

Highway Safety Poster Contest

Busy Caltrans crews. Bright orange cones. And big yellow signs. By tapping their vivid imaginations and inner Piscasso, six children of District 3 employees created colorful drawings featuring an important safety message in this year’s coloring contest. Their work depicted the themes of either “Slow for the Cone Zone” or “Move Over.’’ These young artists turned this year’s contest into a huge success as they creatively expressed the need to slow down and be cautious on California highways. Congratulations to these creative youngsters.





District 3 Receives Appreciation from the California Highway Patrol

On the morning of April 9, 2012, the Placerville Area California Highway Patrol handled a commercial vehicle collision involving both a hazardous materials spill and a loss of more than seven tons of sand onto U.S. Highway 50 near Riverside Tract. Your crew, supervised by Mr. Chris Brackmann, responded immediately. They did an exceptional job of working together with our on-scene incident commander, as well as with the El Dorado County Fire Department.

Your employees had already deployed moveable signs warning of the traffic collision even before most of our units were on scene. They quickly sized up the scene and deployed the appropriate resources to safely and efficiently alleviate both spills. They also assisted with long-term traffic control allowing, our resources to focus on the investigation. They were extremely professional and helped get the roadway cleared as quickly as possible, given the extent of the scene.

Their actions helped minimize not only the exposure of our units at the scene, but helped reduce the traffic congestion to the public and commerce. I want to personally commend Mr. Alex Netto, Mr. Alan Gregory, Mr. Dwight Droze, Mr. Steve Marker, and Maintenance Supervisor Mr. Chris Brackmann. Their professionalism and experience have not gone unnoticed and are greatly appreciated.

The Placerville Area CHP appreciahe professional partnership shared by Caltrans and our area CHP, and we look forward to working more with you in the future.

C.D. King, Lieutenant
Placerville Area

Editor’s note: Chris Brackmann and crew are stationed at the Kyburz Maintenance Station along U.S. Highway 50.



Cassandra Pitts was promoted to Associate Environmental Planner by North Region Environmental.
Rex Hervey was promoted to Caltrans Senior Transportation Engineer by District 3 North Region Program- Project Management.
Michael Hodel was promoted to Caltrans Landscape Maintenance Leadworker by District 3 Maintenance, Sunrise Region.
Jeffrey Crawford was promoted to Caltrans Equipment Operator II by District 3 Maintenance, Sunrise Region.
James Erle was promoted to Caltrans Maintenance Supervisor by District 3 Maintenance, Sutter-Sierra Region.
Ivan C. Mincer was promoted to Caltrans Area Maintenance Superintendant by District 3 Maintenance, Sunrise Region.
Ronald Wroten was promoted to Caltrans Transportation Surveyor Party Chief by District 3/North Region Engineering.
Nathan Caravallo was promoted to Caltrans Maintenance Equipment Operator II by District 3 Maintenance, Sunrise Region.
Paulo Quaresma was promoted to Caltrans Maintenance Equipment Operator II by District 3 Maintenance, Sunrise Region.
Curtis Chapo was hired as a Digital Print Operator II by Administration.

New Hires

Ronald Guenther was hired as a Caltrans Transportation Surveyor by District 3 North Region Engineering.
Mark Bokova was hired as a Caltrans Transportation Engineer by District 3 North Region Construction.
David Van Dyken was hired as a Caltrans Senior Transportation Planner by District 3 Planning.
Osabougbe Igbinedion
was hired as a Caltrans Transportation Engineer by District 3 North Region Environmental.
David Richerson was hired as a Caltrans Equipment Operator II by District 3 Maintenance, Sunrise Region.
Jeffrey Pecka was hired as a Caltrans Highway Maintenance Worker by District 3 Maintenance, Sunrise Region.
Kevin Kuckenmeister was hired as a Caltrans Equipment Operator II by District 3 Maintenance, Sutter-Sierra Region.
Michael Lipanovich was hired as a Caltrans Highway Maintenance Worker by District 3 Maintenance,
Sunrise Region.
James Day was hired as a Staff Services Analyst by North Region Construction
Stephen Stratford was hired as an Associate Governmental Program Analyst by North Region Construction.
Sandra Winnen was hired as a Office Technician by North Region Engineering.
Sunil Repaka was hired as a Transportation Engineer by North Region Construction.
Samantha Belcher was hired as an Office Technician by North Region Program Project Management.
Matthew McCarter was hired as a Caltrans Highway Maintenance Worker by District 3 Sunrise Maintenance Region.
Harold Thompson Jr. was hired as a Caltrans Maintenance Area Superintendant by District 3 Maintenance, Sutter-Sierra Region.
Gary Arnold was hired as a Caltrans Senior Transportation Planner by District 3 Planning.
Joel Robinson was hired as a Caltrans Transportation Engineer by District 3 Maintenance Engineering.
Angelina Healy was hired as an Office Technician by District 3 North Region Environmental.
Daniel Brewer was hired as a Landscape Associate by District 3 North Region Engineering.
Stephanie Hill was hired as an Office Technician by District 3 Maintenance Sunrise Region.
Chelsi Villa was hired as an Office Technician by District 3 Maintenance Sunrise Region.
Harold Rock was promoted to Caltrans Equipment Operator I by District 3 Maintenance, Sutter-Sierra Region.


Abe Hessabi passed the Land Surveyor in Training Exam