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Caltrans Improves Pavement Quality on I-10 Near Beaumont

by: Larry Bernstein
Crews use a Caterpillar 336F Excavator and John Deere 450J Dozer on the I-10 rehabilitation project.
Crews use a Caterpillar 336F Excavator and John Deere 450J Dozer on the I-10 rehabilitation project.
There are three United States coast-to-coast interstates: I-10, I-80, and I-90. I-10, which originates just off the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, California, and continues to Jacksonville, Florida, is the southernmost cross-country highway in the country. It runs just over 2,460 miles and is the fourth longest interstate in the United States. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is working on a pavement rehabilitation project on a section of I-10 in Beaumont, which is approximately 25 miles west of Palm Springs.

As a major east-west connector route transporting people and goods in the area, the I-10 is a heavily traveled roadway. In 2009, a Pavement Condition Survey Inventory (PCS) was taken. Data indicated that the pavement within the project limits exhibits extensive cracking, faulting, and generalized poor ride quality.

In response, Caltrans is embarking on the project with the goal being to restore structural integrity and ride quality in the project area. “The driving force behind the project is to restore integrity and ride quality of mainline and ramp pavements by rehabilitating the existing PCC and AC pavements,” says Emily Leinen a Public Information Officer for Caltrans District 8.

Upon completion of the project, Caltrans aims to improve ride quality and increase the service life of the pavement. This will also lead to fewer maintenance needs therefore minimizing worker exposure, maintenance frequency, and costs and ultimately.

Time for a Tune Up
Dubbed the “I-10 Tune Up”, the project area is approximately 20 miles and runs from Beaumont to State Route 111, which is east and in the vicinity of Palm Springs. It will replace various damaged concrete slabs, rehabilitate the pavement in the project area, upgrade various on and off ramps, and upgrade the guardrail and drainage systems.

“The pavement on the two outside lanes in both directions is particularly in need of full replacement as the severe deterioration is beyond normal maintenance repairs and rehabilitation treatments,” Leinen says.

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The scope, however, goes far beyond pavement repair. The full scope includes:

  • Replace two outer lanes (Lane 3 and Lane 4) with 1.30-foot Jointed Plane Concrete Pavement (JPCP)
  • Perform slab replacements of Lane 1 and Lane 2 at spot locations
  • Inside shoulder will be cold planed and overlaid with 0.25-foot Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA)
  • Outer shoulder will be replaced by structural section identical to Lane 4
  • Replace existing asphalt concrete ramps with full depth HMA
  • Construct existing ramp termini with JPCP where needed
  • Upgrade curb ramps to meet ADA standards at 30 locations
  • Upgrade and provide new Midwest Guardrail System (MGS) wherever needed
  • Mill and overlay gore areas
  • Replace damaged drainage inlet
Traffic Challenges
Because the I-10 is heavily used in the area, it’s a priority of Caltrans to retain freeway capacity, which means having four lanes open in each direction. To do this, a temporary crossover lane is being constructed in the construction area. In practice, this means shifting one lane of traffic to the other side of the freeway using temporary k-rail that will be removed when the project is complete.

As part of the project, Caltrans will do nighttime work that will require lane and ramp closures which could leave the area down to one lane.

Besides allowing traffic to continue flowing, the crossover lane creates a workspace for the crew as work will take place behind the k-rail.

According to Leinen, implementation of a crossover lane has been the biggest hurdle to overcome. “Caltrans has advertised this new lane by using social media, media assistance, website usage, consultation help, public and city meetings, and billboard and radio advertisements,” Leinen says. This has allowed the information to reach a wide audience.

Another challenge for the team is coordination. “This project has many different improvements that are occurring at once,” Leinen says. “This requires us to be smart with the work and plan accordingly to make sure the project is a success.”

Help from SB 1
Serving as the contractor for this project is San Diego-based Coffman Specialties. Leinen says, “Caltrans tries its best to use local contractors within California for its projects in the state.”
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The project budget is $220 million. The state provided $116 million of that as part of its Senate Bill 1 program. SB 1, a Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, is a legislative package from the state that invested $54 billion over a decade to fix roads, freeways, and bridges as well for transit and safety. The remainder of the funding is coming from the federal government.

The project began in February 2020 and is scheduled to end late 2022 or early 2023. As of this writing, Leinen notes the contractor is slightly behind schedule, but within the allowed timeframe.

Delays occurred at the beginning of the project as the area experience a good deal of rain. The team, however, has been able to make up some of the lost time. “One benefit of the pandemic was that there were less people on the road,” Leinen says. “This assisted the project by allowing the approval of earlier lane closures, which are normally done at night.”

However, because there were less drivers on the road, the contractor could begin these lane closures earlier in the night, rather than later. Leinen notes this allowed the team to some catchup work.

When the project is complete, the traveling public will enjoy a much smoother ride along the and improve riding efficiency along this stretch of the famous I-10. In addition, the project will reduce the cost of maintenance needs for Caltrans.

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