BACKUP IN THE PASS: Unannounced Road Work on WB 10 Delays Thousands

Scheduled roadwork to fix potholes on the freeway between Hargrave and Sunset commenced late Saturday, but Caltrans was unable to finish the work as planned, a California Highway Patrol dispatcher said.

Recap 10:01 p.m. The Sunday backup in the Pass due to unannounced construction on westbound Interstate 10 in Banning stretched as far as 22 miles east to Indian Avenue in Palm Springs, and it lasted more than 10 hours, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The work on I-10 between East Ramsey and 22nd Street in Banning was scheduled by Caltrans, but due to miscommunication advance notice of the closure was not announced, Terri Kasinga of Caltrans District 8 said in a phone interview earlier Sunday.

"They were planning to do this pavement rehab project, and they already have the pavement torn up so they can't stop," Kasinga said shortly before 1:30 p.m.

Banning-Beaumont Patch interviewed motorists from Wildomar, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Cabazon and Banning, and received comments on this news report as well as comments on the Banning-Beaumont Patch Facebook page.

To keep abreast of future Banning-Beaumont Patch reports, subscribe to the BB Patch newsletter, follow @BanningPatch on Twitter and like the BB Patch Facebook page.

Update from Beaumont at 9:11 p.m. As of 9 p.m. Caltrans workers were collecting cones and re-opening the last closed lane east of 22nd Street.

All lanes were expected to be open shortly.

Update from Banning at 8:36 p.m. By 8 p.m. there were three lanes open on westbound Interstate 10 in Banning.

The westbound bottleneck started at the offramp to East Ramsey Street, where the far right lane was closed.

The Hargrave Street exit was open and the 8th Street exit was closed. There was no visible work being done in the closed lane other than a street-sweeper vehicle and a truck with flashing lights moving slowly in the closed lane.

From the 22nd Street exit, westbound traffic flowed freely and no lanes were closed between 22nd and the Sunset Avenue off-ramp.

Update 7:31 p.m. Among the motorists who felt stranded Sunday evening in the San Gorgonio Pass due to unannounced freeway work in Banning was 80-year-old Helen Dorsett.

"I'm stranded here," Dorsett said outside the closed Riverside County sheriff's Cabazon Station. "I live in Banning and I'm stuck here.

"I came to Four Square Church here in Cabazon about 11 this morning, no problem getting here," Dorsett said. "Then I got out, the church service was over with, at 1 o'clock."

She drove her Ford Explorer to the post office in Cabazon, then tried to get back on the 10 freeway westbound but found such a long line of vehicles at Apache Trail she abandoned her return trip, went back to the church and took a nap.

"I just now came to the sheriff's station, at 5:30 p.m.," Dorsett said. "I don't know how to get home now. I believe I'm stranded here. I think I'll go down to the fire station and see if they can help me."

Dorsett said she did not have a medical emergency and she had not called 911 for assistance. She said she was "just cold, and I want to get out of the wind."

By 7:30 p.m., traffic was still backed up through the east Pass and beyond, according to the CHP. Crawling motorists jammed the westbound 10 at Haugen-Lehmann Way in Whitewater, and a bright line of vehicle lights stretched into the distance.

The westbound frontage road between Haugen-Lehmann Way and Cabazon was also jammed with motorists, some who jockeyed for position and drove on the dirt shoulders to pass other waiting motorists.

Update 5:01 p.m. "Whose (expletive) bright idea was it do freeway construction on a Sunday?"

That's what Judith Nicoll of Cabazon asked from behind the wheel of her car as she was stuck in traffic on the Main Street overpass in Cabazon Sunday afternoon.

"This is ridiculous," she said. "Can't even get out of the house. We have reservations in Ontario at 6 p.m. We left the house at 3:15 p.m. but we've been on the road half an hour and haven't even got three blocks from the house."

Below the overpass hundreds of vehicles were visible stopped on westbound Interstate 10 and the backup stretched miles through the east end of the San Gorgonio Pass to Indian Avenue in Palm Springs, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Update 4:51 p.m. Among the thousands of motorists caught in snarled traffic Sunday on Interstate 10 in the San Gorgonio Pass were two women from Sherman Oaks and Studio City.

Jackie Joseph was stuck in crawling traffic on the Main Street overpass in Cabazon about 3:30 p.m. She said she and Yuki Morita got on westbound Interstate 10 in Palm Springs and they'd been trying to make progress for 90 minutes.

"We got on the 10 about 2 p.m. in Palm Springs, so it's been an hour and a half to get a few miles," Joseph said.

Update 4:36 p.m. The closures on I-10 in Banning could last until midnight, the California Highway Patrol reported at 4:19 p.m.

Traffic was backed up to Indian Avenue in Palm Springs, according to the CHP.

Some motorists stuck in traffic in Cabazon about 3:30 p.m. said they had been trying to get through the San Gorgonio Pass on Interstate 10 four hours or more.

Kristie Riddle of Wildomar said she started out Sunday morning driving from Johnson Valley off Highway 247 near Lucerne Valley in San Bernardino County, came down Highway 62 and got on I-10 westbound about 10:30 a.m.

"I'm just trying to get home to Wildomar," she said as she drove at a snail's pace across the overpass. She said she had to get off the 10 in Cabazon to relieve herself "and I've been stuck an hour just to get back on the 10."

KNX 1070 News Radio reported that some motorists who were stuck for hours in the Sunday jam ran out of gas. Numerous tow truck crews were responding to incidents along the 10 east of Banning and east of Cabazon.

Shortly after 4 p.m., an eastbound ambulance stuck on an off-ramp used sirens and flashing lights to eventually break free of the backup and headed north across the Main Street overpass.

Update 4:21 p.m. Law enforcement closed access to frontage roads Sunday on the south side of Interstate 10 in Cabazon as traffic backed up as far as Highway 62 on the east end of the San Gorgonio Pass, due to unannounced road repairs on the 10 in Banning.

East Cabazon surface streets were jammed with bumper-to-bumper traffic at the Main Street interchange as hundreds of motorists tried to find a way around the backups.

Some motorists stuck in traffic crawling across the Main Street overpass in Cabazon used profanity to express their frustration with the delays.

Update 1:36 p.m. Some motorists are driving on Union Pacific railroad right-of-way to avoid the traffic on westbound Interstate 10, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Union Pacific train engineers have been warned of traffic in the area, according to the CHP.

Update 1:31 p.m. Unannounced pavement rehab work on westbound Interstate 10 was causing 10-mile backups to Highway 111 Sunday aternoon, a Caltrans spokeswoman said in a phone interview.

The work was scheduled by Caltrans, but due to miscommunication advance notice of the closure was not announced, Terri Kasinga of Caltrans District 8 said in a phone interview.

"They were planning to do this pavement rehab project, and they already have the pavement torn up so they can't stop," Kasinga said shortly before 1:30 p.m. "I'm hearing it's backed up past the 111 now."

Work crew supervisors hope to have the work completed by 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. Sunday, Kasinga said.

A Caltrans bulletin on Friday indicated a closure was planned on two lanes of the eastbound 10 from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday from 8th Street in Banning to Apache Trail in Cabazon for slab replacement. That work has been completed, Kasinga said.

The Friday announcement included no mention of pavement rehab work on the westbound 10 in Banning.

Posted 12:41 p.m. An unplanned roadwork closure on westbound Interstate 10 in Banning was forcing backups Sunday six miles east to Main Street in Cabazon, a California Highway Patrol dispatcher said in a phone interview.

Caltrans crews began scheduled repair of potholes at 11:30 p.m. Saturday on the westbound 10 between Hargrave Street and Sunset Avenue, the dispatcher said.

They were unable to finish the work as planned though, and the closure continued past noon Sunday, the dispatcher said.

Three westbound lanes were closed and one westbound lane was open, the dispatcher said. Backups on the westbound 10 were stretching east to Main Street in Cabazon, the dispatcher said.

It was not clear when all lanes would re-open, the dispatcher said.

At 10:32 a.m., the CHP web site indicated there were backups due to the unplanned closure, and the closure was expected until 5 p.m. Sunday.

At 11:21 a.m., the CHP reported vehicles were going the wrong way on a frontage road in the area of Seminole Drive and Malki Road due to the traffic backups.

Sandee February 13, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Tully, the info you provided makes my blood boil, because this gov. red tape is so predictable, but I do hope that the people who are justified in filing a claim still do so...it's the only way they're going to be held accountable for damages...but what I would really hope is enough people band together to ensure this sort of thing never happens again...it is inexcusable! If it takes the firing of several people, so be it. I read they are blaming it on a broken computer system...REALLY!?!
Tully February 13, 2012 at 07:58 PM
You might also copy her boss bimla.rhinehart@dot.ca.gov as well as Assemblyman Cook at paul.cook@asm.ca.gov File a complaint with the CHP at: http://www.chp.ca.gov/prog/emailCCP.cgi Or write the Gov.Brown at: http://govnews.ca.gov/gov39mail/mail.php
Carol Szoyka Saubel February 13, 2012 at 08:38 PM
yes... we were stranded . the whole night . came home this morning just in time for kids to go to school. Ughh... pain In the Ass... but it didn't surprise me . Living in the pass we've seen it before. with standoffs but never miscommunication. of course people would get upset being stuck. no answers , no even from chp traffic conditions. what good is it to tune in to the fwy condition radio station.
Mike McConn February 13, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Suing Caltrans or any other government agency is like suing yourself. What do you think lawsuits are paid with? Tax dollars.
Guy McCarthy (Editor) February 13, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Caltrans apologizes: http://patch.com/A-qP8V
unappreciated February 13, 2012 at 09:51 PM
I Apologize to all of you who were caught in the poorly planned mess yesterday. Although I am just an employee I felt truly horrible for all of you that were stuck in that nightmare. That being said i know that it's human nature to lash out at whoever is close to you when your upset but doing it to us that are out on that freeway taking our lives into our own hands every night to try and better your commute is uncalled for and frankly makes you look ignorant! Believe me we were trying to give you back lanes as quickly as possible! I take great offense to the put downs by some of the inconvenienced hotheads that think we just stand around on the freeway like that's some sandy paradise we'd like to be at on a Sunday. So until you have all the facts and consider all the variables we deal with don't judge. Thank You
ATC February 13, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Unappreciated, I understand what you're saying, and perhaps you "personally" were not at fault, but your organization really dropped the ball. Someone at Caltrans was indeed standing around doing very little. Let's look at the timeline, per Caltrans, shall we? If the lanes were "supposed" to be reopened at 7:00am, that means that the concrete was to be poured by 2:00am (takes 4-5 hours to cure), right ? So, the breakdown at the plant must have occurred sometime before 2:00am. Since the lanes finally reopened at 9:30pm, that means the slabs were finally poured around 4:00pm. It took Caltrans 14 hours to find another concrete supplier? Really?
Sandee February 14, 2012 at 12:02 AM
unappreciated, there is no need to apologize, if you are just a cog in the wheel and had no control over what took place yesterday. However, if you are capable of making any change in the system, I am pleading with you to do anything that will ensure this sort of thing doesn't happen again. I couldn't care less about being inconvenienced....I was more concerned about my two friends who were suffering from the stomach flu and just needed to get home and in bed...what we thought was going to be a two hours drive ended up taking us four and a half hours. I consider us lucky that it wasn't longer than that. Yes, there was vomiting occuring...but we had enough sense to bring plenty of plastic bags with us. We also just happened to have enough food and beverages to hold us over. This is just one story of thousands that you will no doubt hear in the next couples of days. So, please, if there is anything you can do to make a difference, even applying for a job so you can replace one of your superiors...please do it!!!
jerryminor February 14, 2012 at 12:48 AM
that's awesome, sandee!
Sandee February 14, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Thanks, it was painless...I wasn't mean to her, I just wanted to know what I can do to express my displeasure in a manner that would be received with some degree of respect and perhaps even have some attention paid to this disgraceful fiasco so the same thing never happens again! Funny, the press release acknowledged my concerns: "Motorists expressed concern when they drove through the work zone and saw no activity by the contractor and Caltrans personnel," Kasinga said." Heh heh, that might have been me she was quoting, but I do hope that many, many others complained as well!!!!
Glad2BOuttaGovtWork February 14, 2012 at 01:56 AM
The closure was set up & maintained by Caltrans. The work was done by a contractor who pays prevailing union wages to it's employees. Those employees, including those from the cement plant who brought inferior concrete which delayed the work, are all making a helluva a lot more than Caltrans workers. Just go on the State Personnel website & look up Highway Maintenance Worker to see the "big bucks" they make. Then go on the Dept of Industrial Relations website & see how much the contractor employers are making. Ask if the cement plant that provided crappy product is being penalized. The average state pension is $2000/month. If salaries & pensions were are so great for the average worker. I work in private industry at the same job my friend works at for the state. My medical benefits, retirement and salary are twice as much as hers.
Mariana Zuelsdorf February 14, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Victor, Paul Cook responded promptly to the situation once he learned of the problem. Guess he isn't too busy after all.
Victor S Dominguez February 14, 2012 at 02:15 AM
Mariana, How did he respond ? When did he learn of the problem? How can I learn of his response? Please due tell.....
Caryn OBrien February 14, 2012 at 02:34 AM
Knowing the way CalTrans works, once we saw the completely dead stopped traffic at 1:00PM, and hearing on satellite radio the closure was going to be "only" until 5PM, we took the back way out through Idyllwild and Hemet.That took us over 2 hours, rather than the 75 minutes the normal way, but it beat sitting in traffic. Obviously this job was too big for CalTrans to undertake. They should have hired a contractor who would have completed it in time. In the long run it would have cost a lot less In money, good will and frayed nerves. Not to mention, it gives Ken and John one more reason to beat up the state employees. That CalTrans Supervisor in charge of that job needs to be reprimanded. If that happened in the real world, he would be fired!
Caryn OBrien February 14, 2012 at 02:43 AM
Contacting CalTrans and your assembly man, great! Governor Brown would be a waste of time.
Sandee February 14, 2012 at 03:10 AM
G2BOGW--What was it--inferior product, or a breakdown at the plant--according to the press reports: A breakdown at a nearby concrete batch plant, in the Cabazon area, "contributed to delays in completing project and reopening lanes before the work schedule ended at 7:00 a.m.," Kasinga said. Again with the salaries--it shouldn't matter what you're getting paid--just do your job and --gasp--sometimes go above and beyond...there shouldn't be any complaints of this magnitude if everyone just did their jobs and did them well, and if you're working for the public, don't ever put thousands of people in this sort of predicament!
Glad2BOuttaGovtWork February 14, 2012 at 03:38 AM
But it wasn't an intentional predicament. The work would have been done before traffic if the product was there. The plant had a system breakdown which caused an inferior product. It was rejected and returned. What should the workers have done? Gone home & wait to be called back? Yes, everyone should do their jobs well & there should have been a backup plan for this situation. But sometimes crappy things happen. When people on here started talking about Caltrans workers just standing around or the ever popular "cut their pensions" as a way to solve everything, I wad simply trying to place some perspective on the situation.
ATC February 14, 2012 at 04:42 AM
Your"perspective"would likely be a bit different if YOU had been trapped in the mess. There should have been a backup plan in place, such as a different supplier that could have actually provided the correct concrete in less than 14 hours!
Toluca Lake Observer February 14, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Don't let your seething hatred of union workers who make more money, and have more benefits than you, get in the way of logic. This was a management decision.
EmmKay February 14, 2012 at 05:07 PM
I was there & that is three hours of my life I'll never get back. It just seems that talking about "fat pensions " ( which isn't even true), suing Caltrans (settlements paid from OUR tax $$ & most going to at the) and such is counterproductive, spiteful & childish. I've waited longer for concert tickets, late planes & an iPhone.
Darren Meyer February 14, 2012 at 06:52 PM
No tickets were written by CHP Officers for driver’s using cell phones, or anything else for that matter. A few verbal warnings were given for dangerous driving, such as driving on the shoulder and driving wrong way on the freeway. Eight CHP officers were assigned to the incident. Four of them directly assisted the private contractor, escorting concrete trucks through traffic to the center divide and ultimately to the construction site. Two officers were directing traffic at Apache Trail and the freeway off-ramps. Two officers were documenting fender-bender traffic collisions throughout the backup. CHP kept the center median open for the concrete trucks, fire trucks and ambulances. As far as directing traffic…. Where would you have liked the cars directed? Everyone wanted to go westbound and there was only one lane open. Yes, it was a mess. Cal-Trans, PCS (The private contractor responsible for the construction) and CHP could have done a better job. Your constructive criticism is welcomed. My e-mail is dmeyer@chp.ca.gov
Mariana Zuelsdorf February 14, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Victor, call Banning's Mayor Robinson concerning Paul Cook's response. The Mayor was stuck on the freeway too
Guy McCarthy (Editor) February 14, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Here is the latest update: Caltrans District 8 Chief 'Embarrassed' by 'Fiasco' Backup Sunday in the Pass http://patch.com/A-qQS2
Victor S Dominguez February 14, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Mariana, I did not realize Banning Mayor Robinson was Paul Cook`s public information officer, I just went to Paul Cook`s facebook page and official legislative web-site to find information. Isn't that were we should obtain information ? or maybe your special.. http://arc.asm.ca.gov/member/65/?
Mariana Zuelsdorf February 15, 2012 at 08:14 AM
Having a bad day, are we, Victor? I heard about the freeway mess from Mayor Robinson, whom I know, and since he was stuck in the same mess, he was involved just as others were. If you have a problem with second hand information, I suggest you contact Paul Cook directly. You made a rather rude and unnecessary post concerning Mr Cook and whether he was too busy campaigning to worry about his constituents. I simply passed on what I had learned. You could have done the same if you weren't so busy trying to find something about which to complain. I suggest that you check Mr Cook's official website prior to making accusations.concerning anyone, including me. If you had done that first, you might just have had enough information so that you could intelligently comment on this situation.
Victor S Dominguez February 15, 2012 at 09:13 AM
I posted this remark Tuesday at 2:53 PM: look above :Are you drinking again? Mariana, I did not realize Banning Mayor Robinson was Paul Cook`s public information officer, I just went to Paul Cook`s facebook page and official legislative web-site to find information. Isn't that were we should obtain information ? or maybe your special.. http://arc.asm.ca.gov/member/65/?
tony February 15, 2012 at 02:23 PM
tony February 15, 2012 at 02:24 PM
I didn't vote for Moonbeam
tony February 15, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Appearently many people wasted their time voting for him.
Mariana Zuelsdorf February 15, 2012 at 05:18 PM
It doesn't matter when you posted it, and the question to me makes no sense. Actually, as a non-drinker, I am offended at your comment. As usual, it is rude and unnecessary


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