Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
Crews are seen assembling near I-110 and Wilshire Blvd.

"Swarm" Maintenance on the Four Level Interchange
by  Patrick Chandler
Issue Date: 01/2013

Maintenance crews spruce up the downtown corridor with an innovative method.

Buzzing chainsaws, concrete being poured, tree climbers cutting down palm fronds, and so much more could be seen near the Four Level interchange (US 101/I-110) on the morning of Sunday, November 4.

Short on personnel and finances, the various maintenance regions of District 7 pooled their resources to accomplish several weeks worth of work within six hours from, 6 a.m. to 12 p.m., in Downtown Los Angeles.

This operation was called “swarm” maintenance to help describe to the public the large number of personnel involved and work that had to be done within the closure. Internally, the project was named the “Four Level Interchange 2012 Winter Cleaning” (The traditional term “gang” maintenance wouldn’t go over well in the Los Angeles media market).

“With budget and resource cutbacks, we have to be innovative and find different ways to accomplish our mission,” said Acting District 7 Deputy Director of Maintenance Herby Lissade. “By placing multiple crews into one closure we were able to make significant improvements to the roadway and landscape, enhance safety, and save on future costs.”

District 7’s Maintenance Division deployed 300 personnel and community service workers in closed sections of the southbound Harbor Freeway (I-110)/Hollywood Freeway (US 101) interchange between 3rd Street and Wilshire Boulevard.. The Operations Division dispatched the Traffic Management Team to assist motorists in getting around the closure on the freeway, and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation provided detours on city streets.

Generally, crews only have a two-hour closure window within the US 101/I-110 interchange. By increasing the window to six-hours and placing hundreds of personnel into one closure, the overall operation cost was $150,000 with a savings of $450,000. This six-hour window reduced the necessity of closing the interchange three to four additional times for two-hours each for a total cost of nearly $600,000 and maximized the use of Maintenance Zone Enhanced Enforcement Program (MAZEEP) and other closure vehicles.

To enhance safety, road crews restriped the roadway, replaced lighting and signs, and repaired guardrail. To improve the aesthetics, landscape crews, supported by community service workers, removed trash, litter, weeds, and graffiti. They also repaired irrigation, cleaned drains, mulched, and installed new plants. Department bridge engineers also conducted a routine inspection of the Four Level Interchange.

To manage the operation, the Incident Command System was utilized with South Region Maintenance Manager Patricia “Trish” Sanders as the incident commander. The incident command system is used by agencies across the nation to help manage emergency incidents efficiently and effectively through a chain of command. The Office of Emergency Management brought the Satellite Communication (SAT COM) to help provide communications and organizational support. SAT COM was also very effective during Carmageddon II, the second closure of the I-405 through the Sepulveda Pass.

As a certified Emergency Management Specialist, Sanders was ready to take the lead.

“We had a lot to accomplish, so it was important for each supervisor and group to be assigned a specific task,” said Sanders. “This operation afforded our crews the opportunity to experience how ICS works during an emergency.”

Fortunately, there were no reports of significant delays, accidents, or injuries.

“This swarm maintenance operation is one of the first of its kind to occur in District 7,” said Lissade. “We hope to accomplish more swarm maintenance operations around the district to meet our challenges and lead as an example to the rest of the state.” 



concentrated area at I-110 near Wilshire Blvd. Just south of the Four Level, a road crew repairs a slab of concrete on I-110. East Region tree crew member climbs a palm tree to remove the fronds. He is over 40 feet above the ground! The Satellite Communications trailer.