The next big step in the Santa Clara River Bridge expansion project on the Ventura Freeway is scheduled to start Friday, as workers begin installing the 65-foot cement shafts that will buttress the new span.
Although two pile drivers will operate within about 10 feet of the northbound slow lane of the freeway at Ventura Road, cement barriers topped with plywood planks will separate the construction zone from traffic.
"We call it a 'gawk screen,' " California Department of Transportation spokeswoman Patricia Reid said.
Construction work at the site is scheduled for 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays through Sept. 5, though work could stretch to 7 p.m. some days, Reid said. No lane closures on the freeway are scheduled, but northbound traffic on Ventura Road is reduced to one lane.
The pile drivers will be moved to the Johnson Drive bridge abutment on Sept. 6. Construction there will follow the same weekday schedule.
Johnson Drive bridge work will be about 30 feet from northbound traffic. There will be no lane closures on the freeway or Johnson Drive, Reid said.
Additional pile driving work is scheduled to begin Sept. 16 in the freeway median between Ventura Road and Johnson Drive, and construction along the median is scheduled to continue until summer 2003.
The $112-million project aims to eliminate the chronic bottleneck between Oxnard and Ventura along the Ventura Freeway.
It is scheduled for completion in 2006.
The new bridge will boast 12 lanes instead of six and will include a bicycle lane. The highway on both ends of the bridge, from Vineyard Avenue to Johnson Drive, also will be widened.