Lake County News: Lake County highway projects get go-ahead from state commission

October 31, 2017

October 31, 2017
By: Elizabeth Larson

The California Transportation Commission has approved nearly $15 million in highway projects for Lake County.

At its meeting earlier this month, the commission approved 90 major “fix-it-first” transportation projects across California, worth nearly $3.4 billion, submitted by Caltrans.

Caltrans said it added nearly 1,200 lane miles of pavement repair and 66 bridges to its growing list of projects to be delivered sooner than planned thanks to the imminent influx of revenue from the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, or SB 1, the transportation funding and reform package the State Legislature passed in April.

To date, Caltrans said it has now expedited nearly $5 billion in “fix-it-first” projects since the spring.

“Years of unfunded maintenance needs have plagued our roadways, so Caltrans is expediting projects with the expectation of SB 1 funds coming in November,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “We are lining up projects that are going to deliver real results for all users of the state transportation system.”

The fuel tax increase that’s part of SB 1 begins on Wednesday. It will raise gas prices 12 cents per gallon. Still more tax increases and vehicle registration fee increases will roll over over the next two and a half years.

In addition to improving or replacing 66 bridges and rehabilitating nearly 1,200 lane miles of pavement on highways across the state, Caltrans said the projects include repairing more than 300 culverts and drainage systems, and installing nearly 2,400 elements that are part of traffic management systems that help manage traffic and reduce congestion.

The projects in Lake County total approximately $14,755,000.

They include a $5,245,000 project to replace the Bachelor Creek bridge culverts on Highway 20, according to Caltrans.

That project’s purpose is to address the deteriorating condition of the three existing culverts, and prevent further deterioration that would cause culvert failure and pavement failure, which would affect traffic safety and mobility through the corridor, according to information provided by Cori Reed, Caltrans spokesperson for Lake and Mendocino counties.

The work will include replacing the multi-plate steel pipes that were installed at Bachelor Creek in 1950 and which are deteriorating due to corrosion, rusting and sagging, Caltrans said.

Caltrans said the pipes no longer maintain their circular cross-section; further deterioration “will
significantly reduce their ability to carry the design flow capacity.”

Other aspects of the project are to repair roadway asphalt pavement surfacing that is cracking and addressing settlement above the culverts, Caltrans said.

Two other projects totaling $9.5 million are meant to improve traffic data transmission, Caltrans said.

They include a $4.6 million traffic management systems project that will upgrade various traffic monitoring elements on Highway 20 from west of Van Sleeper Road in Upper Lake to Schindler Street in Clearlake Oaks, on Highway 29 from Seigler Canyon Road near Lower Lake to east of Van Sleeper Road, Highway 175 north of Adobe Creek Road and on Highway 281/Soda Bay Road in Lake County, and on U.S. Highway 101 from north of Middle Ridge Ranch Road to south of La Franchi Road and Highway 175 from Old River Road to Hopland Road in Mendocino County to improve data transmission, Caltrans reported.

Caltrans said another traffic management systems project, which will cost $4.9 million, will upgrade various traffic monitoring elements on Highway 20 from Red Rock Road to east of the Highway 20 and Highway 53 intersection, on Highway 29 from north of Lake Street to Live Oak Drive, on Highway 53 from Dam Road to north of Ogulin Canyon Road, and Highway 175 from Red Hills Road to Dry Creek Cutoff in Lake County to improve data transmission.

The project is meant to ensure that Caltrans can provide accurate and timely data for traffic and travel conditions, which the agency that includes construction activities, collisions, and weather-related incidents.

Currently, Caltrans collects traffic information via dial-up telephone lines and DSL
connections, which it said are sometimes unreliable and can limit information transfer due to limited bandwidth.

Temporary traffic volume collection systems provide another way Caltrans collects information, but it reported that such installations expose field workers to traffic.

The project will include installing a wireless communication system backbone, upgrading existing traffic volume sensors to real-time traffic monitoring stations, and making related improvements to Intelligent Transportation System elements, Caltrans said.

Reed reported that construction is scheduled to begin on all of the projects in December 2020 and expected to be completed by November 2022.

At this month’s meeting, the commission also approved other work around the region including a $6.2 million drainage project on U.S. Highway 101 and Route 271 in Humboldt and Mendocino counties, and an $8.7 million drainage project on Route 299 in Humboldt County.

The projects the commission authorized this month follow more than $285 million in accelerated existing highway repair projects announced earlier in July and nearly $901 million in “fix-it-first” projects in August.

Caltrans said SB 1 provides an ongoing funding increase of approximately $1.8 billion annually for the maintenance and rehabilitation of the state highway system, including $400 million specifically for bridges and culverts.

SB 1 funds will enable Caltrans to fix more than 17,000 lane miles of pavement, 500 bridges and 55,000 culverts by 2027, the agency said.

Caltrans also reported that it will use SB 1 funding to fix 7,700 traffic operating systems, like ramp meters, traffic cameras and electronic highway message boards that help reduce highway congestion.

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