Project News

Santa Maria Crew Members make Something Old New Again

If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, the job where project manager Jesse Bishop and team are conducting bridge and road work might be the place for you.

“It’s definitely one of our more remote jobs—about three hours from our Los Angeles/Orange County office,” said Jesse.

The job splits San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties on Route 101, the primary north-south thoroughfare that connects San Francisco to Los Angeles. The project includes a 2100-foot-long separate span, four-lane structure built in the early 1960s. The roadway was widened to six lanes in the city of Santa Maria leading up to the bridge, but the structure itself creates a bottleneck that constantly ties up traffic. “The structures have very, very narrow shoulders, and the deck was in really bad shape,” said Jesse. “They have wanted to replace the bridge since 2009.”

The design reuses the existing piling and substructure, but it substantially widens the bridge by connecting the two separate spans in the middle. The existing decks of the two bridges will be removed, then crews will widen the middle, southbound and northbound sides. Once completed, the bridge will have three lanes going both directions, 10-foot shoulders and an integral 12-foot bicycle and pedestrian path on the southbound side.

Crews are currently adding 87 new precast girders to the west side of the existing structure to complete stage two, switching to stage three in late April to hit the next major project milestone. Stage three involves removing the northbound deck, widening the northbound side by 29 girders and then placing new deck on the northbound side to tie all stages together before the closure pour. Approximately 21,500 cubic yards of concrete (not including footings) will be used on the job, including 246 new precast girders and 187 cast-in-steel-shell piles that are four feet in diameter and approximately 80 feet long.

Although the project is three months ahead of schedule, keeping the pace has been challenging. “There have been numerous design changes to the existing structure,” explained Jesse. “The plan is represented as very typical, but in reality there are a number of variances. It’s the same for the roadway, too. Nothing has matched grade-wise between the structure and the roadway.”

“We’ve tried to get out in front of the issues as much as possible,” he continued. “Once we recognized the issues, we brought up three project engineers from the Los Angeles office and we as-built everything that we could. With that as-built information, we identified many variances to the plans and wrote a number of requests for information. That way, we could attempt to resolve them before we got there.”

This is project is estimated to be complete by January 2014.

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