Caltrans’ ’Fix I-5’ Earns Top Ten Spot in National Competition

Wed November 18, 2009 - West Edition
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The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) “Fix I-5” project was named one of ten finalists for the national 2009 America’s Transportation Award. The award is sponsored by AAA, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Judged by a panel of nationally recognized transportation experts, Fix I-5 earned a top ten spot out of a total of 50 entries from 33 states.

Each finalist now competes for the Grand Prize and People’s Choice awards. Caltrans’ Fix I-5 project was honored in the “On Budget” category for its innovative approach to rehabilitating a three-quarter-mile stretch of Interstate 5 in downtown Sacramento, known as the “Boat Section,” and for its outreach campaign and Web site that diverted or eliminated more than 3.8 million vehicle trips during the project. The top ten projects competing for the People’s Choice Award will be decided by popular vote, and the Grand Prize will be determined by independent judging.

“The Fix I-5 project demonstrates Caltrans’ commitment to creating cost-effective, innovative solutions that improve mobility on California’s highways,” said Jody Jones, director of Caltrans District 3. “We sincerely thank Sacramento region commuters and truckers for their part in reducing trips during the I-5 closures. Their cooperation and support were crucial for this project to succeed. We encourage everyone affected by Fix I-5 to support California’s entry by voting for Fix I-5 in the People’s Choice Award.”

The Fix I-5 project to repair drainage systems and replace pavement was originally estimated to take nearly a year with partial lane closures, and cost $45 million. Instead, Caltrans and contractor C. C. Myers took the innovative approach of completely closing each side of the freeway in alternating directions, working around the clock over 38 days, and using a new rapid-set slag concrete material. A region-wide public information campaign was created by marketing contractor ProProse to reduce traffic congestion and anticipated delays of an hour or more in some areas. The campaign asked drivers to reduce trips in the region, use alternate routes, carpool or use public transportation.

Noted in the award was the campaign’s interactive Web site that received 1.7 million visits during its five-month run. More than 6,000 users signed up for daily project updates and traffic alerts. The faster construction schedule dramatically reduced inconvenience to motorists and local businesses while also saving the state $18 million in construction costs. Traffic delays averaged only five to ten minutes.

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