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60 Swarm Projects Bring Vital Improvements to Heavily Used SR 60

by: Mark Bird
Crews pave two lanes at a time on SR 60 during a 55-hour weekend closure using the new automatic dowel bar insertion (DBI) paving machine. The machine helped boost accuracy and productivity.
Crews pave two lanes at a time on SR 60 during a 55-hour weekend closure using the new automatic dowel bar insertion (DBI) paving machine. The machine helped boost accuracy and productivity.
A swarm of construction activity is bringing extensive upgrades to a heavily traveled corridor in Southern California. The “60 Swarm” is an impressive Caltrans undertaking of two projects along State Route 60 (SR 60) passing through the Caltrans District 8 counties of San Bernardino and Riverside – the Pavement Rehabilitation Project and the Three Bridges Replacement Project.

SR 60 serves the cities and communities on the eastern side of the Los Angeles metropolitan area and runs along the south side of the San Gabriel Valley. “SR 60, an east-west corridor, is a major gateway route into the larger urbanized areas of Southern California and is a major goods movement corridor,” explains Diane Morales, Caltrans Deputy District Director, Program Project Management. “This route is part of the California Freeway and Expressway System. It is part of the National Highway System, a highway network that is considered essential to the country's economy, defense, and mobility by the Federal Highway Administration. It also serves the commercial centers of Riverside and San Bernardino counties, including the Ontario International Airport. The entire route is included in the National Network for Federal Surface Transportation Assistance ACT (STAA) for Oversized Trucks.”

The $134.5 million Pavement Rehabilitation Project, which includes $16.9 million in SB-1 funding, is re-paving the main line, shoulders and the on and off-ramps for a 16-mile stretch of SR 60 in both directions. The project passes through five cities beginning in Riverside at the 60/91/215 interchange and crossing through to Euclid Avenue in the Cities of Chino and Ontario. The pedestrian sidewalks at the end of the ramps are being upgraded to ADA standards and new metering fixtures will be installed at the end of the ramps.

The $23 million Three Bridges Replacement Project, which includes $10.4 million in SB-1 funding, will repair deteriorated slabs and replace three bridges along SR 60 for improved structure safety and increased vertical clearance. The San Bernardino County bridges include Pipeline Avenue, Monte Vista Avenue, and Benson Avenue.

J. McLoughlin Engineering Company, Inc. of Rancho Cucamonga, California, is the contractor for the Pavement Rehabilitation Project; the contractor for the Three Bridges Replacement Project is Sema Construction of Temecula, California. The projects are funded mainly with SB 1 funding – Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, provides an ongoing funding increase of approximately $1.8 billion annually for the maintenance and rehabilitation of the state highway system.

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Work on the Pavement Rehabilitation Project began in July 2019. The project is currently in its final stage, with a tentative construction completion date of October 2021. The Bridge Replacement Project started in June 2019; Phase 1 (demo and construction of half of each of the three bridges) is complete, and Phase 2 (demo of the second half of each bridge and reconstruction of the bridges) is currently underway.

Projects Address Poor Pavement Condition, Bridge Vertical Clearance Issues
A Pavement Condition Survey Inventory (PCSI) conducted in 2008 indicated the need for pavement rehabilitation within the project limits. The condition of the existing pavement was poor, with a high percentage of third-stage cracks and corner cracks in the two outside lanes, and damaged pavement in various locations in other lanes of traffic. The deterioration of pavement severely decreased the ride quality of existing roadway and had the potential to adversely impact goods movement and the motoring public.

“The purpose of this project was to extend the pavement service life within the project limits,” explains Elaheh Hadipour, Caltrans Project Manager. “The lane replacement with long life PCC pavement will improve the ride quality, reduce the need for ongoing maintenance and construction projects and less public inconvenience as a result, and reduce maintenance worker exposure for years to come.”

The vertical clearances on the three bridges being replaced are nonstandard; the existing structures were constructed with dimensions that make them prone to being bumped by oversized truck loads, and over the years repeated minor hits have had a cumulative impact. The new bridges will provide improved structure safety and increased vertical clearances, which are necessary to meet the STAA requirements for oversized trucks. Additionally, the roadways and sidewalks in the vicinity of the bridges are being upgraded.

Limited Challenges to Smooth Progress of Construction
For maximum efficiency and safety, the project team decided to completely close 18 miles of SR 60 directionally for 55 hours during 15 weekends, reports Caltrans Acting Senior Transportation Engineer Mujahid Qureshi. “The closures, from 10 p.m. Friday night to 5 a.m. Monday morning, allowed contractors to pave JPCP (Jointed Plain Concrete Pavement) two lanes at a time – 24 feet wide – with a new automatic dowel bar insertion paving machine. This machine is accurate and productive, which allowed paving to be completed more quickly than planned.”

The westbound lanes were paved during eight consecutive 55-hour closures, then operations were flipped to complete the eastbound lanes. The project also took advantage of reduced traffic during the pandemic and used long-term lane closures to work during daytime hours behind k-rail barriers.

The extensive 60 Swarm projects have proceeded with only a few construction challenges. Shannon A. Tynan, Project Manager for Sema Construction, reports, “One example of a construction challenge we came across is that at the Pipeline and Benson bridges there was asbestos in both of the bridges. Asbestos was commonly used in construction in the past, but is now known to be cancerous when disturbed. Since asbestos is a hazardous material, contractors and consultants specially trained in asbestos had to perform and oversee the safe removal of the material.”

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Joe McLoughlin, President of J. McLoughlin Engineering Company, remarks, “The pavement project is running smoothly because Caltrans and J. McLoughlin Engineering are working together. All hurdles we have encountered on this project have been minor. The plans and the specifications were written in a manner that covered most all situations in the field. Delays have been very minimal and redesigning changes have been done promptly. This contract may be the first contract over $100 million to be completed without a claim.”

Providing a different perspective, regarding work on the pavement project in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, is Caltrans Deputy District Director/Construction Christy Connors. “The project’s success, and the team’s ability to capitalize on the sudden decrease in traffic volumes at the start of the pandemic, was made possible through the strong partnership established between J. McLoughlin Engineering and the Caltrans project team. Their innovative approach to modify the construction staging mid-stream by taking more aggressive lane closures as a result of decreased traffic provided significant cost savings, reduced impacts to the traveling public, more efficient operations and higher quality pavement.

“They also extended their hours during the week to avoid overtime costs. We planned for additional 55-hour weekend closures due to lighter traffic caused by the pandemic and worked behind k-rail during daytime operations to avoid additional lane closures.”

Extensive, Ongoing Community Outreach Program Developed
Two such large projects – affecting over 200,000 commercial and private motorists daily – requires well-coordinated efforts to maintain dissemination of project information to the public. The 60 Swarm Community Outreach Team developed an outreach plan and an electronic 60 Swarm toolkit with collateral materials, a website, and a hotline. Nearly 100 Project Ambassadors participated in an outreach launch meeting that provided a controlled opportunity to deliver 60 Swarm messaging and information and to communicate, coordinate, and cooperate with this group.

Community meetings were hosted in three cities; city council updates were presented in five cities; meetings with multiple chambers of commerce, emergency services teams, and business groups were also held. Additionally, members of the outreach team visited nearly 70 truck stops and gas stations covering an 80-mile span and more than 100 businesses in the project area. They continue to post weekly commuter alerts on 60Swarm.com and push this information out to a stakeholder list through email and text messaging services. Caltrans includes the information in their District 8 weekly newsletter and social media posts.

Upgrades Mean Safety Improvements, Better Ride Experience for Motorists
The 60 Swarm Pavement Rehabilitation Project will improve safety and provide a better quality of ride for motorists while increasing the life of the pavement, decreasing maintenance and reducing maintenance worker exposure. The Bridge Replacement Project will reduce accidents related to bridge height and improve safety for truckers. Improvements made to the on- and off-ramps and the intersections will improve traffic flow and safety for residents and visitors traveling on the new bridges.

“This $157.5 million pavement and bridge reconstruction project is a significant SB-1 investment in one of the most important and heavily traveled trucking corridors in the United States,” states Michael Beauchamp, Caltrans District 8 Director. “This coupled with the millions of motorists who regularly use SR 60 to travel to destinations in one of the five cities that border the project, or travel from these cities on their daily commutes, makes this safety and roadway improvement project a huge economic value to Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

“SB-1 funding allows Caltrans to invest in transportation infrastructure projects like these that not only increase safety but reduce long-term maintenance costs, creating a win-win for both Caltrans and motorists.”

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