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Storms Compromise Culvert in Southern California

Thu April 08, 2010 - West Edition
Jennifer Rupp

Emergency repair is under way on SR-330 in San Bernardino County, California.

During the first week of March, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) maintenance crews noticed that a culvert under SR 330 near City Creek was severely damaged. Erosion accelerated by recent storms caused the culvert to fail, resulting in a loss of slope integrity. An immediate emergency project was initiated.

Evidence of the failure was seen from both the loss of surface slope material as well as pavement cracking consistent with subsurface erosion. Further investigation revealed that the 11-ft. (3.3 m) diameter culvert pipe positioned under the highway to direct water flow from the high side of the highway to the low side had suffered some abrasive erosion. The pipe was losing its structural strength and was collapsing. In addition, water flows outside of the culvert resulted in cavities being formed underground.

The department monitored the cracking and determined that the risks to safety were too great.

Caltrans closed off the entire length of SR 330, (15.42 mi. long), on March 16. Traffic to the Running Springs and Big Bear communities was rerouted onto SR-18/SR-38 from the San Bernardino/Redlands area.

J. McLoughlin Engineering Co. Inc. of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. was awarded the $6 million contract.

“The project essentially consists of excavating the area down to the existing culvert pipe [approximately 80-ft. below the roadway], replace with new culvert pipe, backfill, compact and then replace the roadway,” stated Caltrans. “Guardrail repairs, slope stabilization strategies and other erosion control methods will all be part of the effort.”

The new culvert pipe, from a pipe manufacturer in Kentuck, was assembled at the job site to create the new culvert, totaling 226 ft. (68.88 m) in length and 11 ft. (3.35 m) in width.

Crews hope to open the road in approximately three to four weeks for single-lane traffic. The overall project is expected to be complete mid-June of this year.

In a presentation before the City Council of Big Bear Lake on March 22, Caltrans liaison Dennis Green said, “We are going to do everything we can to accelerate the opening of this road —because we know you have a big bike event.”

Green was referring to the Amgen Tour of California which takes place on May 21. While the bike route does not include SR 330, the event does receive approximately 100,000 visitors to the mountain area, according to a report by KBHR radio station

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