“This project provides congestion relief to improve the traffic flow at the interchange,” says Sheilah Fortenberry, Public Information Officer for Caltrans District 12 in Orange County. “It reduces the traffic congestion during the morning and afternoon peak periods. It also increases the traffic signal queue capacity.”
Caltrans and Brea began working on this improvement project in 1999, according to city records.
About 62,000 vehicles traveled on the interchange daily when construction began, with capacity expected to increase by 2040 to 73,100 vehicles. The SR 57 corridor provides access to Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties. About 12 percent of the vehicles are trucks during peak travel periods, and 17 percent are trucks during mid-day hours. Heavy congestion results from conflicting traffic movements and inadequate signal queue capacity, and during morning and evening peak travel times that leads to delays.
“It accommodates the anticipated traffic increase at this location, which reduces delays and enhances the safety at this location,” Fortenberry says.
The project also will allow for a future project to create a SR 57 northbound truck climbing lane between Lambert Road and the Orange and Los Angeles County line, she says.
Federal, state, and local dollars, including city of Brea and Orange County monies, are funding the project. California funds are coming from the $54 billion Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, designed to fix roads, freeways, and bridges throughout the state and to contribute toward transit.
The primary goal of this project is a reconfiguration of the interchange. In addition, crews will widen Lambert Road from three to four lanes in both directions for 0.3 miles, build a new northbound loop on-ramp to northbound SR 57, realign the southbound on-ramp, construct an auxiliary lane for the southbound off-ramp and widen that ramp, build sound walls, add vertical clearance to the Lambert Road under-crossing, and provide a right turn lane from eastbound Lambert Road into the SR 57 on ramp, Fortenberry says.
“The new loop on-ramp will eliminate the existing left-turn lane entering to northbound SR 57, which will improve the traffic flow along Lambert,” Fortenberry says. “The loop on-ramp will take some traffic off the existing traffic signals and will result to a better traffic signal operation between the two adjacent traffic signals at the interchange.”
Parsons Corp of Centreville, Virginia, designed the interchange upgrades, with bridges and retaining walls engineered to withstand seismic activity, as outlined in Caltrans Seismic Design Criteria. The project area is abutting a major seismic fault line running along Tonner Canyon, north of the project limits, Fortenberry says.
Caltrans anticipates the new structures to have a lifespan of 75 years and the pavement 40 years.
“The work is going smoothly now,” Fortenberry reports. “We encountered setbacks due to utility conflicts, differing site conditions, and existing underground unsuitable materials and structures.”
Crews excavated poor soils and replaced them with better dirt before starting construction.
Security Paving worked on all four of the SR 57 on- and off-ramps at the same time, rather than the initial plan to complete them in stages, keeping the job on schedule. The company owns all of the heavy machinery used on this interchange project.
This project fell within or near habitat for the regulated species – a bird called a California Coastal Gnatcatcher, which live in coastal sage scrub, so Caltrans made provisions for protection isolating the area with a fence. Also, no night work took place adjacent to the birds’ area; all clearing and grubbing had to take place between September 1 and February 14; and vegetation removal happened outside of nesting season. To ensure all requirements were met, a biologist had to be on site during clearing, grubbing and construction.
During excavation of abandoned pipes on the northbound on-ramp, crews found asbestos containing material and oil deposits and while excavating for a retaining wall on the southbound SR 57, contaminated soils were encountered. All of the contamination was disposed of properly. Additionally, some aerially deposited lead was found within the project limits and dealt with according to state requirements.
Fortenberry reports, it has been a “challenge to produce minimum disturbance to the public, while traffic is not interrupted within the interchange.” The contract allows for detours around closed lanes needed to accomplish the job. Caltrans alerts people about traffic updates through social media outlets Facebook and Twitter.
The project consumed 9,000 cubic yards of concrete, 35,000 tons of asphalt, 41,500 pounds of steel, and 7,000 linear feet of various pipe. Security Paving has recycled the old asphalt and concrete pavement, crushing it to use as a base under the new pavement. It not only saves on material costs but also trucking and manpower.
The project remains on schedule, which Fortenberry attributes to coordination among all stakeholders.
Fortenberry reports all involved are proud of “the collaboration between the stakeholders to accomplish the job to serve the city of Brea residents and the state needs.”