Contact Street Smarts
Caltrans strikes snag on Hwy 236
Caltrans has hit a couple snags in its attempt to repair Highway 236. Those problems – the continued failure of the road and soil inconsistencies – are slowing the project down. The northbound lane of the highway that carries 2,000-2,500 vehicles daily was undermined during a March storm. Since then, two-way traffic has been driving on the southbound lane with a signal light. But now, crews have noticed that the soil under the southbound lane is crumbling beneath the cranes and other equipment brought in to build a retaining wall. “There are cracks developing in the southbound lane,” said Barry Dunlap, Caltrans project manager. “It just shows that we pushed the limit with the one-way traffic control. We needed to do it. It wouldn’t have lasted much longer.” With the road giving way, the crew has changed the way it planned to build the wall. And that change will slow down the work, according to an on-site engineer. Instead of drilling 18, 30-foot deep holes in a row, filling them with steel beams and sealing them in with concrete, the crew will alternate form one end to the next the drilling of the hole, installation of the beams and pouring of the concrete, the official said. The other snag crews have run into is with the drilling time. “It’s going slow and hard,” said Dunlap. “We had expected to drill three holes a day, but we’re only able to drill 1.5 each day.” The delay is being blamed on the type of soil that’s under the road. Boulders, called granite floaters, come in all sizes ranging from as small as a basketball to as large as a car and are harder than solid rock, Dunlap said. They make up several feet of soil beneath the highway, he said. “You can hit the side of a floater and it can throw the drill off,” he said. “You could wind up with a hole bigger than what you wanted or not where you wanted it.” Meanwhile, above the slip-out, residents who thought they had a hang of getting around San Lorenzo Valley without using Highway 236 were thrown for a loop. The county performed some road repairs along Jamison Creek Road, an alternate route about two miles north of the slip-out. And on Alba Road, which Boulder Creek residents had been using off Empire Grade Road to access Highway 9 and Ben Lomond, a large tree fell around 12:30 p.m. and knocked down power lines. The incident caused emergency crews to close Alba for several hours and put up detours.