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Caltrans Apologizes for Huge Backup, Cites Breakdown at Concrete Plant

The backup due to unannounced road work on westbound Interstate 10 in Banning stretched more than 20 miles east to Palm Springs at times, and it lasted more than 10 hours.

Caltrans District 8 officials apologized Monday for the massive backup Sunday on westbound Interstate 10 in the San Gorgonio Pass, citing a breakdown at a local concrete plant as a factor for the unannounced road work and lane closures in Banning.

, including locals and visitors from across Southern California and other states, sat in crawling traffic that backed up more than 20 miles east to Indian Avenue in Palm Springs. Some people said it took them six hours or more to drive what normally would take 45 minutes.

"The California Department of Transportation, District 8, extends their apologies to the motoring public for the lengthy traffic delays that were encountered on westbound Interstate 10 in the Eastern Desert on Sunday, February 12," Caltrans spokeswoman Terri Kasinga said in a statement issued Monday afternoon.

The original work schedule called for a "construction project to rehabilitate pavement with Portland cement concrete" in Banning, which started with lane closures at 10 p.m. Saturday Feb. 11 and was scheduled to end at 7 a.m. Sunday Feb. 12, Kasinga said.

"The concrete being utilized to make the repairs requires four to five hours to cure before traffic can be permitted to drive on it," Kasinga said.

A breakdown at a nearby concrete batch plant, in the Cabazon area, "contributed to delays in completing (the) project and reopening lanes before the work schedule ended at 7:00 a.m.," Kasinga said.

"Unfortunately, the various slabs targeted for replacement had been removed and prepared for the material before the break down at the batch plant occurred, resulting in the continued closure of lanes outside the work schedule," Kasinga said.

"Motorists expressed concern when they drove through the work zone and saw no activity by the contractor and Caltrans personnel," Kasinga said.

"The crews were awaiting the delivery of the material to finish the work and then for the new pavement to set," she said.

The work was completed well after sundown, and all westbound lanes reopened to traffic at 9:30 p.m. Sunday Feb. 12.

Caltrans "is investigating the events that led up to the incident and again extends our sincerest apologies to all who were involved, especially the motorists who were forced to endure the lengthy back up," Kasinga said. "Measures are being taken to insure that this type of situation does not occur in the future on any state highways in the Riverside and San Bernardino area."

ATC February 13, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Okay, 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 "supposed" to be poured by 2:00am, right? So, there was a breakdown at the plant at or before 2:00am. Since the lanes reopened at 9:30pm, that means the slabs were finally poured around 4:00pm. So it took Caltrans 14 hours to find another concrete supplier? Really?
Tony Ballew February 13, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Typical of Caltrans...Edison...clueless
Tony Ballew February 13, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Are they going to reimburse the guy who missed his flight and had to pay $1200 to rebook?
Jessica E. Davis February 13, 2012 at 10:20 PM
Or how about the people who chartered a plane from Thermal to get to the Grammys?
Aiderva Montelobos February 13, 2012 at 10:57 PM
I'd like to know what the city of Banning plans to do about a public road connecting Cabazon and Banning?!? The Morongo reservation would not allow motorists to drive through their road that does connect both areas. This is a very serious concern that the city needs to address.
Guy McCarthy (Editor) February 13, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Good points Aiderva. Backups don't happen every day like that but they are foreseeable and it's worth asking 'What is Plan B for next time?' Here is link to the Grammy jetset news report Jessica referred to: http://patch.com/A-qPFw
Sandee February 14, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Tony, in Edison's defense, I experienced an outage a couple of years ago, and because I actually phoned to complain, I received compensation in the form of a credit on my statement in one of the months that followed. We were also fortunate to be able to borrow a generator from a friend who didn't experience the blackout. I don't know how Caltrans will be dealing with this, but I can't imagine that out of the thousands of people who were affected, there won't be some of them who will take it as far as it needs to go to receive compensation.
dave ruby February 14, 2012 at 01:41 AM
Yeah we were stuck in that mess barely crawling for hours.. We were happy to see no multi fatality accident. But pathetic and saddened to watch Cal Trans workers smoking cigarettes, talking on cell phones, laughing and others sitting in trucks. Down right pathetic.
Glad2BOuttaGovtWork February 14, 2012 at 02:03 AM
How was a chartered plane delayed from taking off????? Anytime you sue or "receive compensation" from a govt agency, you're just suing yourself. It all comes from tax money. If Caltrans couldn't pour cement, would you have rather sent the crew home until the correct cement arrived & then wait for them to come back? The work was done by a contractor, the lane closures by Caltrans - guess which of the two make much more money? The contractor employees - also paid out of your tax money - why no complaints about them?
Glad2BOuttaGovtWork February 14, 2012 at 02:19 AM
SANDEE- Edison also gives you rate increases every year. The gas tax in California is the same as it was 30 years ago. A senior level tech (rank & file position) at SCE makes more than the Director of Caltrans District 8. The Director of the entire state makes about $140k per year. An average lineman at Edison makes way more than that. Why is there no objection to their high salaries?
Sandee February 14, 2012 at 02:35 AM
I know, it's pretty sick...but I was still surprised to see that credit on my statement, because they didn't notify me about it! I don't object to anyone's high salary, if he/she is doing a great job. It's pretty much out of my hands, since I'm in no way involved. However, if somebody dropped the ball yesterday, and wiped their hands and said, "Not to worry"...the sheer multitude of people who were affected by that lack of communication between the depts., and to witness the lack of aid being offered...I can't say it was eye-opening, because I know enough to stay home if a major earthquake or other disaster occurs in this region, as long as my life isn't in danger...but there really needs to be some alternate plans and superior leadership (regardless of their salary) if this same sort of thing ever happens again, for the sake of all the people who will be stuck in the same sort of situation.
D February 14, 2012 at 05:37 AM
This COMMUNICATION CLUSTERF**K betweenCal-Trans, the concrete facility, and Cal-Trans workers was avoidable. This was nothing more than poor management. It really seems that Cal-Trans holds corporate meetings and then decides to go to work on the busiest streets, at the busiest hours, during the busiest times of the year. They do it here in the valley all the time; during high season when they could have June~September to get it done.
Tony Ballew February 14, 2012 at 06:18 AM
Does anyone know how many people work for Caltrans?
gil moreno February 14, 2012 at 07:24 AM
it was the absolute worst day of my driving life. my wife and i spent 4 days on a working vacation in palm desert. we went to PF Changs, a french bistro on Lakespur, Ruth's Chris, a movie at the River mall, shopped and hung out poolside at the hotel. we headed home to the San Fernando Valley on sunday. the traffic killed every minute of relaxation i spent there. a 2 and half hour drive took 6 hours. it was criminal. i'll never go there again. thanks for the torture Caltrans.
Bill Taylor February 14, 2012 at 08:18 AM
I assume Mrs. Bono Mack will demand that someone at Cal Trans take responsibility for this mess. We should also expect some action from the Governor's office.
EmmKay February 14, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Working June - Sept in the daytime in the desert? It was a screw up on Sunday for sure, but actually much of the interchange work was done in the daytime. Guess what? People complained about that & said why aren't you working at night? But you print up a good point. What happens in a natural disaster? What happens if the road is closed because of a fire? What evacuation plans does Caltrans, the cities, counties, CHP, the Morongo tribe etc. have for that situation? Geez Gil - you say you had this wonderful four day vacation & because it took you 3 1/2 hours mire to get home than it took to get there, you're never going back? Isn't that just a little childish? You'd let those 3 1/2 hours of bad ruin the 96 hours of fun? No wonder this country is going downhill - a little adversity and everyone talks about suing, never going back. Yes, I was there, it took three hours of my life I'll never get back. But I've waited in line longer to get concert tickets & I'm certainly not going to whine about it forever as if it was sine great tragedy. Put it in perspective people - you're not in a war, you're not being attacked, you're not starving, you're not trudging ten mile a day for fresh water, you have a car & you have a computer and/or cell phone to use to complain. If this is the worst thing that's happened to you, you're pretty damn lucky.
Jerri Smith February 14, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Raise your hand if you think it was a good idea to rip up major chunks of freeway surface and to pour tons of fresh concrete, on a cold, windy and damp Sunday? Also, the Cabazon plant is EAST of the work, making it necessary to for the trucks to drive the same route as the traffic sitting in gridlock. Major DUH!
ATC February 14, 2012 at 04:34 PM
No one said a chartered plane was "delayed from taking off". The plane needed to be chartered because of this debacle.
ATC February 14, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Emma, this work was nowhere near an intersection, nor is it June - Sept, nor was the work scheduled during the day. Was this a "great tragedy"? No. But, excusing mediocrity simply encourages more of it. People SHOULD be complaining about this, and peoples' feet SHOULD be held to the fire, as this situation was entirely preventable, or at least could have been minimized. A backup concrete supplier should have been available IN LESS THAN 14 HOURS. CHP should have been routing people around both sides of the open panels (yes, there were actually 2+ lanes that "could" have been used with a bit of CHP direction during the 14 hour delay) instead of just a single lane. Morongo should have allowed access through their reservation as an alternate route. This was a complete breakdown at every level, that just compounded throughout the day. At every stage. decisions were made that made the situation worse, not better.
Aquila Colobo February 14, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Okay, everybody, time to get over it and move on. Have a nice day.
EmmKay February 14, 2012 at 06:17 PM
I second that Aquila
jim munn February 14, 2012 at 07:29 PM
All the government agencies are aware of the problems caused by lack of any other route than I10 between Banning and Cabezon. The proposed solution is a bypass that would connect Apache Trail in Cabezon to Hargrave St in Banning. This bypass is currently in the planning stages. In several years, the bypass will allow an alternate route through the pass.
Guy McCarthy (Editor) February 14, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Here is the latest update: Caltrans District 8 Chief 'Embarrassed' by 'Fiasco' Backup Sunday in the Pass http://patch.com/A-qQS2
ROSE LEE February 14, 2012 at 08:24 PM
ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF THIRD WORLD CALTRANS. I HOPE OUR REPRESENTATIVE MARY BONO MACK WILL INVESTIGATE THIS VERY SERIOUS INCIDENT. THE CALTRANS DISTRICT 8 CHIEF SHOULD BE FIRED. ROSE LEE
voispoed February 14, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Very good! Thanks for the info, Jim.
ATC February 14, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Jim, don't hold your breath. That proposed bypass has been "in the planning stages" for years. It's no closer than it was the last time I-10 was shut down for 10 hours.
EmmKay February 15, 2012 at 04:44 AM
Why was so much development allowed in the Coachella Valley with only one major roadway in & out of the area? Seems to me another major freeway should have been included in the planning process. Caltrans or not, one major accident or natural disaster will be all it takes to have this type of situation again.
Gym Csee February 16, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Hey the casino doesn't own the cement plant do they -- they seem to be the only ones who benefitted from this nightmare ??? lol huge BOOM to their business ...
Hansy February 28, 2012 at 04:47 AM
This is a very big trouble to public.
Katheryn September 30, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Where is the California Attorney General, and why is she letting this happen? Tell does this sound familiar, I have provided a link to a story on the Temecula Patch. Please read the story and watch the video in the story. Add this to all your facebook accounts, get the word out. http://temecula.patch.com/articles/citizen-reader-shares-mining-sounds

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