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Caltrans Multitasks on Interchange Work

Mon February 04, 2008 - West Edition
Jennifer Rupp

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is working on one of the biggest construction projects in southern California. Improvements are being made to the 60/91/215 Interchange and segments of each of the freeways that serve it.

In February 2004, Caltrans launched the project in partnership with the Riverside Transportation Commission and the Federal Highway Administration.

“The majority of the work will be completed by the end of 2007, with the overall project being completed by the summer of 2008,” said Terese Lagana, spokesperson of Caltrans District 8.

Caltrans Senior Resident Engineer ChiaChi Wang is overseeing the $320 million project, which will advance the traffic flow on the three critical highways serving the Riverside, San Bernardino and Moreno communities. An estimated 300,000 commuters, residents and commercial trucks travel on these highways daily.

Funding came from federal, state and local sources. This funding partnership demonstrates the level of commitment being made by many public agencies that share the interest and responsibility of improving our transportation system.

Before the construction began, many groups offered vital information regarding the projects. These groups included communities, local businesses, emergency services, educational facilities, local city and county agencies.

In 2002, an early project phase commenced with $16 million in targeted improvements. These included: rebuilding the Spruce Street Bridge; relocating the existing eastbound on-ramp to SR 60 from Orange Street to Main Street; and widening the existing highway undercrossing bridges at University Avenue, Mission Inn Avenue and Third Street.

This initial phase was completed in spring 2004.

The main contractor on the job is a joint venture between Washington Group International of Boise, Idaho, and Obayashi Corporation of Los Angeles, Calif., Washington-Obayashi is performing the majority of the work with a contract of $207 million.

Senior Project Manager David Smith from Washington Group has partnered with Jack Cowan, deputy project manager from Obayashi, to oversee the project. The joint venture has taken on all of the chief engineering aspects of the project, including some of California’s deepest bridge foundations ever drilled. The foundations support 49 100-ft. (30.5 m) columns for the two flyover bridges. The columns were drilled to a depth of 130 ft. (39 m), and each used approximately 500 to 600 yd. (457.2 to 548.6 m) of concrete.

Among the more than 20 subcontractors on the job are Harbor Companies of San Bernadino, Calif., for demolition; Dyna Electric of Los Alamitos, Calif., for electrical work; All American Asphalt of Corona, Calif., for asphalt concrete paving; and Penhall Company of Anaheim, Calif., for deck overlay, saw and seal. Workers are running two 10-hour shifts and sometimes weekends.

Anderson Drilling of Chino, Calif., designed a special machine for the drilling work on this project.

Approximately 74,553 cu. yd. (57,000 cu m) of concrete will be used on the 23 bridges involved in the project. Among these, there are five bridge replacements, eight bridge widenings, six new bridges, one bridge removal and three with miscellaneous bridge work. The 83 retaining walls will need 32,699 cu. yd. (25,000 cu m) of concrete for construction.

The project will require more than 261,400 tons (237,000 t) of asphalt concrete — approximately 250,000 cu. yd. (191,250 cu m). About 9 mi. (14 m) of highway are included in the project.

“More than 80 percent of earth that we remove from an existing roadbed is recycled,” explained Lagana. “We moved earth from one part of the project to another end. We take excavated concrete, break it down into individual components and reuse as much as possible.”

The project has had its challenges. In addition to weather, utility issues and material quality testing, supply and inflation have played major hindering roles as well.

“If the demand for material is high, it costs more to obtain it, which impacts the cost to the contractor. With Riverside County being one of the fastest growing communities in the state, supply for concrete, lumber and everything else that goes into building more homes and shopping centers will affect the supply for building roads as well,” said Lagana.

In response to the issue of inflation, Caltrans has looked at other areas where they could save money.

Lagana explained, “Though we would never cut back on safety measures and quality standards in constructing our state’s freeways, we have made adjustments in areas of manpower and/or reoccurring costs, such as graffiti cleanup.”

“Throughout the project we use textured and decorative wall face. Taggers are less likely to graffiti these surfaces because it distorts their ’art’,” Lagana continued.

“As any community can tell you, cleaning up after taggers is very expensive. We can never be certain, but we hope that it will cut down on the amount of graffiti we deal with.” CEG

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