Posts tagged with "Caltrans":

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California studying a highway-topping wildlife bridge to keep cougars out of traffic

A car driving on a section of Interstate 5 just north of Los Angeles struck a mountain lion named P-32 one early morning this past summer. The cat was once of a small population that has been tracked roaming Southern California wilderness areas. The death, while reported as “sad, but unsurprising,” drew attention to the close proximity of these animals. Our transportation and urban infrastructures draw unnatural lines through their natural habitats. https://youtu.be/TDRvTdOrYsk Earlier this month Caltrans released a proposal for a landscaped bridge across the 101 Freeway. A 165-foot-wide, 200-foot-long overpass would provide safe passage for wildlife from the Santa Monica Mountains to the Simi Hills and Santa Susana Mountains, an area that has seen rapid development in recent decades. According to the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing project study report, biologists National Park Service have counted a dozen mountain lion deaths in the area since 2002. The wildlife crossing is an ambitious piece of infrastructure. Not only does it have to span 10 lanes of traffic, the bridge needs to be amenable to the pumas, foxes, bobcats, and coyotes it wants to serve. As such, the more than $30 million dollar bridge would be landscaped with native, drought-tolerant vegetation mimics the natural habitat. Barriers would muffle noise and block bright headlights. The released project study report was funded by a $1 million grant by the State Coastal Conservancy. An additional $3 million is being sought to continue the development of the final design plans.
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Pictorial> Crews taking down Santa Monica’s California Incline for replacement project

On April 20, construction workers began demolishing Santa Monica's California Incline, a longtime connector between the Pacific Coast Highway and the city's overlooking bluffs. The 1,400-foot-long roadway, built in 1930, is getting a $20-million renovation (including a seismic retrofit and a new pedestrian bridge) by Caltrans and the city of Santa Monica that is expected to take year to complete. Below take a last look at the wonderfully weathered incline as we know it. (Click on thumbnail to start slideshow.)  
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Long Beach to Remove Freeway, Build Much Needed Parkland

“On face value, in Southern California, getting rid of a freeway is sacrilegious,” said Brian Ulaszewski, executive director of nonprofit urban design studio, CityFabrick. Yet that’s just what officials in Long Beach are preparing to do, joining a growing number of international cities looking at highway removal. Using funds from the California Department of Transportation’s Environmental Justice Grant Program, the city, along with CityFabrick, will convert a one-mile stretch of the Terminal Island Freeway into a local road surrounded by more than 20 acres of parkland. Terminal Island Freeway is ripe for removal for two reasons, according to groups behind the removal. First, it’s redundant. Part of the 1950s master plan for freeways in Southern California, the road was originally designed to extend from the Port of Long Beach past downtown Los Angeles. But only 3.5 miles of the freeway were actually built, and today it dead-ends in a rail yard in Long Beach’s Westside neighborhood. Second, the Terminal Island Freeway doesn’t carry very much traffic. About 14,000 vehicles per day travel on the road, less than the amount of traffic rerouted by other freeway-removal projects, including the Harbor Drive Freeway in Portland and the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto. Instead, Ulaszewski said, the traffic volume along the Terminal Island Freeway is comparable to what Long Beach’s “Retro Row”—4th Street—carries. Retro Row isn’t an expressway. It’s a surface street with one lane in either direction, plus a center turning lane. The Terminal Island Freeway removal project evolved from a comprehensive redevelopment proposal by CityFabrick. In addition to the freeway removal, the proposal, called The Yards (PDF), contemplates the relocation of Long Beach’s intermodal container transfer facility (ICTF); the creation of open space along Southern California Edison’s electricity right-of-way corridor; the realignment of the San Pedro Branch Railroad to bypass West Long Beach; and the conversion of existing school recreation areas to joint use. If enacted in its entirety, The Yards would add up to 350 acres of green space to the Westside. Ulaszewski explained in an email that the fate of the other elements of the proposal has yet to be determined. The Environmental Impact Report on the ICTF relocation is due within months, and the other projects may find a place in the pending update of the Land Use Element of the Long Beach General Plan. Ulaszewski emphasized that what sets the Terminal Island Freeway removal project apart from similar programs is the motivation behind it. While other expressways, such as the Embarcadero Freeway in San Francisco, were removed to foster economic development, the Long Beach program is framed in terms of environmental justice. The city’s Westside is park-poor, with only one acre of open space per 1,000 residents (compared to the national standard of one acre per 100 residents). Researchers have documented unusually high rates of respiratory illness in the neighborhood, where children live, study, and play in clouds of truck exhaust. The removal “could be a tremendous game-changer for [the Westside]” Ulaszewski said. “We can clear out some of the bad land-use decisions made there over the years, and start healing that community.”
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Bay Bridge Bungle

You may have heard that the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is being replaced. (Technically the west span is being retrofitted and the east span is being replaced.) But the $6.3 billion project, which has been underway since 2002, has hit a snag: We learn via the Sacramento Bee that the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has fired two employees after a Bee investigation showed that the technician responsible for testing the new bridge foundation's structural integrity falsified and fabricated test results on other projects. The two fired were: Duane Wiles,who tested foundations for bridges and other freeway structures and Brian Liebich, who supervised Wiles as chief of the agency's Foundation Testing Branch. The Bee's investigation examined about 50,000 internal Caltrans reports and test data documents and reported that Caltrans officials knew about the problems for years, but never conducted a serious investigation. Oops. The new bridge is expected to open to the public by 2013. Hopefully.  

                    
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San Diego Crossing Gets Green Lighting Scheme

California State Route 75 is getting a whole lot snazzier. The 2.5-mile-long San Diego–Coronado Bay Bridge is set to undergo the “largest interactive green energy lighting project in North America.” An international team led by London-based artist Peter Fink (FoRM Associates) and lighting designer Mark Major (Speirs + Major) plus the LA-based office of engineering consultant Buro Happold have won a worldwide contest to illuminate the iconic, swooping girder bridge, opened in 1969. The team’s design incorporates energy-neutral LED lighting powered by wind turbines. The lighting will respond to the rate and intensity of automobile traffic on the bridge, as well as major boat traffic across its 1,880-foot shipping channel, and aims to emphasize the San Diego–Coronado Bay Bridge’s importance as a gateway between communities. The Port of San Diego and the California Department of Transportation chose the team’s scheme over two other finalists, including the French lighting design firm Bideau Company and a proposal from environmental artist Ned Kahn and Patrick McInerney Architects with engineering consultants Arup. Bideau Company, which has lit the Eiffel Tower and the Acropolis, proposed a moving zig-zag LED pattern projected along the length of the bridge, loosely based on designs found on pottery by the Kumeyaay Indian tribe. Ned Kahn/Patrick McInerney Architects with Arup proposed a series of clever wind and light sculptures situated in the void of each of the bridge’s inverted V-shaped girders. Check out videos for all three submissions courtesy the Port of San Diego.
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DJ Thommy Mayne and the Pritzker-Making Hits

Widely accepted as the greatest public radio station on the planet, KCRW is famous for its groundbreaking music played by DJs who are smarter, cooler and infinitely better dressers than you. But last week was a bitter one for LA as the station's great Nic Harcourt hung up his headphones as music director. For those of you who are already missing Harcourt's esoteric taste (sometimes a bit difficult to take at 9:03am even after a visit to Intelligensia), never fear: Thom Mayne has stepped into the booth. You heard that right: As part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project, Mayne picked five songs that have inspired him throughout his life. Paired with former music director Tom Schnabel, Mayne sported his usual maniacal grin and a gleam in his eye (above) as he took to the turntable, admitting that on some occasions, he allowed music to help him design: "There’s actually times when I was drawing, closing my eyes, when I have a sketch book where I was moving my hand rhythmically and shaping it and literally trying to shape drawings that were coming directly from various types of music." You can hear the whole set at KCRW.com, but go ahead and rev up your iPod now, because here's what he played: 1.) Dr. John - Right Place, Wrong Time 2.) John Lurie (as Marvin Pontiac) - Runnin' Round 3.) Stevie Ray Vaughn - Texas Flood 4.) Laurie Anderson - Big Science 5.) Prince - Musicology We have to admit we love Mayne's taste in music, which left a dirty Texas BBQ flavor with a sprinkle of bad 80's hair in our mouths. And at least now we can forgive Mayne for the shortcomings of the Caltrans Building: It's clearly not his fault, seeing as he designed it while under the influence of what is easily the worst Prince song in existence. With the possible exception of "Diamonds and Pearls."