Street sweepers hit the freeways in convoys to snag debris – Press Enterprise

Q. The street sweepers that clean residential streets use water to cut down on dust. Why doesn’t Caltrans use the same type of sweeper? It looks like a dust storm when freeways are being cleaned. Also, what is the schedule of the sweepers?

– Brian Ota, Diamond Bar

A. Not sure if the sweepers are all the same, but the strategy apparently is.

Caltrans’ sweepers do use water, said Sheilah Fortenberry, a spokeswoman for the agency, relaying info from the Maintenance Manager’s Office, and for the reason you mentioned, Brian, to keep the dust down.

The sweepers tend to roll during the day, even though there is more traffic then, because they can be seen so it is considered the safest time. How often they operate on a specific freeway stretch can depend on how quickly stuff has collected.

They oftentimes travel in groups: A truck leads the way, with the driver able to hop out and pick up debris that could hurt the sweeper such as wire, soft materials larger than a shoe and retreads; at least one sweeper follows and then, for safety, there might be a California Highway Patrol squad car and a vehicle with a gigantic cushion on the back to absorb any errant drivers.

These sweeper trains generally stay to freeways’ shoulders, because anything spilled tends to end up there, although a sweeper tackles the middle lanes when debris ends up there, the Caltrans’ representative from the Maintenance Manager’s Office said.


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