Aggressive Strategy Will Reduce Impact
Of Closing State Route 78 SR78At Scissors Crossing

Feb 28, 2007

SAN DIEGO The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and contractor MCM Construction have struck a deal that will greatly reduce the number of days State Route 78 will be closed to construct safety upgrades on the San Felipe Creek Bridge near Scissors Crossing.

The plan calls for closing the highway in both directions at that location from Monday, March 12 through mid-afternoon on Friday, March 23. Barring delays due to weather, the bridge would be re-opened to traffic about six weeks earlier than specified in the original contract.

"As a result of fine tuning the complexities of this project, both sides have agreed on a plan that should work for most people," said Caltrans Deputy Director of Construction Armando Garcia. "In addition to maintaining a safe bridge, we get the construction finished within the requirements of federal environmental law, and the public gets its highway back in less than a dozen days." He added that the closure will avoid spring break for most schools and include just one weekend normally the most traveled days of the week for this stretch of road.

To carry out this aggressive strategy, the contractor will work around-the-clock and receive an incentive of $500,000, bringing the total price tag of the safety upgrades to $4.75 million. The upgrades include work on the bridge abutments, rails and decks.

On the other hand, the contractor will be penalized $100,000 the first day and a subsequent $20,000 per day for the following six days if the work is not completed in time. If the project goes into the last weekend of March, there will be an additional penalty of $120,000.

The detour for the project is the only available alternate route in the immediate vicinity, and motorists should evaluate whether it is the right choice for them. Drivers are also encouraged to check a map to explore other routes to their destination in the Desert Region and beyond. Either way, motorists can expect adding at least an hour to their typical travel time.

The detour will take motorists heading east toward Borrego Springs and Ocotillo Wells off SR-78 at San Felipe Road. They will then travel on to Montezuma Valley Road, to Palm Canyon Drive and Borrego Springs Road and back to SR-78.

Drivers heading west will reverse the detour Borrego Springs Road, to Palm Canyon Drive, to Montezuma Valley Road and San Felipe Road and back to SR-78. For more information on this project and other state transportation improvements, please log on to www.dot.ca.gov/dist11.

Lynne Cory  lynne_cory@dot.ca.gov

Use this link to communicate your thoughts directly to Caltrans on-line or call them:

http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist11/contactus.htm

Caltrans District 11
4050 Taylor Street
San Diego, CA 92110
619-688-6670


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See related news article below.

 

 


On the road again, except for 11 days

Route 78 repair, detour no longer a 2-month plan

UNION-TRIBUNE

March 1, 2007

Reacting to overwhelming opposition from both the off-road community and residents of Borrego Springs, the state Department of Transportation announced yesterday that a stretch of state Route 78 will not be shut down for a full two months after all.

Instead of the highway being closed from March 6 to April 30 to repair a bridge over San Felipe Creek – a move that would have forced thousands of motorists to take an hour-long detour through Borrego Springs to get to the desert for off-roading – the repairs will be completed in 11 days, March 12-23, weather permitting.

The new closure will avoid spring break for most schools and include just one weekend.

“As a result of fine-tuning the complexities of this project, both sides have agreed on a plan that should work for most people,” Armando Garcia, Caltrans deputy director of construction, said yesterday.

Spring is the most popular time of the year in the desert, when off-road enthusiasts throng to the Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area and the sand dunes beyond by way of Route 78.

The detour would have forced many off-roaders, some in motor homes pulling trailers filled with desert motor toys, to travel down the steep, curvy Montezuma Valley Road into Borrego Springs.

The detour concerned many off-roaders because of the length and danger of the terrain and angered many in Borrego Springs who didn't relish the idea of thousands of vehicle passing downtown during Borrego Springs' busiest season when people flock to the desert to look at spring flowers.

This is the fourth time Caltrans has altered its plans for upgrading the bridge, about 12 miles east of Julian. Originally, it planned to close the highway in November but the off-roading community raised an uproar because the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are among the most popular times to go to the desert.

As a compromise, Caltrans delayed the closure until after the holidays. Then, after a meeting in Borrego Springs at which off-roaders and residents expressed concerns, Caltrans scrapped the detour altogether, announcing that one lane of the highway would remain open during construction, scheduled to begin in early January.

Then the contractor, MCM Construction of Sacramento, balked at that plan.

After several weeks of negotiations with MCM, the new schedule was agreed to yesterday. MCM will commit more workers and equipment so it can complete the work weeks ahead of schedule, Caltrans spokesman Hayden Manning said.

To carry out what Caltrans calls an “aggressive strategy,” MCM will work around the clock and receive an incentive of $500,000, bringing the total price tag of the bridge safety upgrades to $4.75 million.

On the other hand, Manning said, the contractor will be penalized $100,000 the first day and $20,000 per day for the following six days if the work is not completed on time. If the project goes into the last weekend of March, there will be an additional penalty of $120,000.

Sherri Kukla, editor and co-publisher of San Diego Off Road Magazine, has been battling the closure since last year.

“I'm thankful they listened and didn't just ignore us,” Kukla said yesterday. “And I'm very glad it won't be closed over Easter and spring break.”


J. Harry Jones: (760) 737-7579; jharry.jones@uniontrib.com