Despite concerns that evacuations would be difficult due to the Dunsmuir Grade Project or other Interstate 5 projects, Caltrans Area Construction Engineer John Hinton said that’s not the case.

As construction progresses on the Dunsmuir Grade Project, Caltrans representatives said they are ready to respond to emergencies and provide assistance in all situations, from simple fender benders to a catastrophic wildfire.

Despite concerns that evacuations would be difficult due to the Dunsmuir Grade Project or other Interstate 5 projects, Caltrans Area Construction Engineer John Hinton said that’s not the case.

Although there isn’t an exact plan in place for every possible scenario, Caltrans works with a plethora of agencies, including CAL FIRE, the California Highway Patrol, the U.S. Forest Service, local sheriff’s departments and other local agencies to ensure that whatever needs to be done in the event of an emergency gets done immediately, Hinton said.

Caltrans resident engineer Nicole Mallory said that sections of temporary concrete railings used to divide the freeway during construction can be moved to allow new configurations for traffic in any situation.

This is done often when there are accidents, big or small, in the construction area, said Hinton. Caltrans works quickly to ensure access for emergency vehicles, fire trucks and CHP vehicles.

If there were a wildfire or similar emergency, traffic could be stopped at strategic points either north or southbound, and lanes could be configured in either direction to create more capacity for evacuation, said Hinton, who is a Siskiyou County resident who understands the area and the possible difficulties in emergency situations.

Caltrans Public Information Officer Lupita Franco said in the case of the Camp and Carr Fires last year, countless agencies came together to respond to the emergency. While the local sheriff’s departments and other law enforcement agencies have the authority to lead evacuations, Caltrans works in whatever capacity is necessary to assist with the process.

Project update

Mallory provided an update on the Dunsmuir Grade Project, which is in phase two – the first half of the project was completed last year.

JF Shea Construction is continuing to place concrete pavement in the southbound lanes and if all goes as planned they will complete the paving down to Central Dunsmuir by early September, said Mallory.

“After completing this section, traffic control will be reconfigured in order to complete the final section from Central Dunsmuir to just north of the Sacramento River Bridge,” Mallory said. “Work on this final section is anticipated to be completed by early October, at which time the long term traffic control will be removed and traffic will return to the normal configuration. All work on the project, including paving, drainage, sign replacements, widening of the Mott Road southbound bridge, and installation of 6 inch stripe, is expected to be completed by the end of the year.”

As of last week, the contractor, JF Shea has received over $40 million in payments to date, including payments to subcontractors, and the project is approximately 76 percent complete, said Mallory. The total concrete pavement placed on the project so far exceeds 68,500 cubic yards,” Mallory added.

Mallory reminded all motorists to follow the 55 mile per hour speed limit in the construction zone. “Be attentive and be courteous when merging.”