Caltrans and CHP’s ‘Operation Snowflake’ aims to protect drivers amid heavy snowfall



LOS ANGELES, Calif., (KGET) – Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol are working together to protect drivers when heavy snow blocks the I-5 on the Grapevine in “Operation Snowflake.”

This winter season Caltrans added a new tool, a median gate on the I-5 at Castaic in Los Angeles County for drivers to turn around northbound to southbound lanes. 

The new gate was used this holiday season for Thanksgiving and Christmas due to heavy snow and delays on the I-5 at the Tejon summit. Caltrans says the new tool was highly effective in reducing traffic in local communities. 

“Operation Snowflake” is key to battling winter storms along the I-5 as both Caltrans and CHP work around-the-clock to keep roads open. When forecasters predict heavy snowfall at 4,500 feet or lower, both teams send out an alert system that calls for maintenance crews. In the process CHP officials determines if shutting down the roads is necessary as a safety precaution. 

If roads are shut down, Caltrans will block off the northbound lanes on the I-5 at Lake Hughes Road at Castaic and the southbound lanes at Grapevine Road in Kern County. According to Caltrans, it is a vital freeway span linking Southern California to the Central Valley with a daily traffic average of 83,000 vehicles. 

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