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Caltrans and CHP working to protect drivers with "Operation Snowflake"

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Posted at 5:32 PM, Jan 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-23 20:32:45-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol are teaming to protect drivers when heavy snow limits or blocks use of the Interstate 5 in northern Los Angeles County through "Operation Snowflake."

When forecasters predict heavy snow will drop to 4,500 feet or lower, Caltrans coordinates with the CHP to activate “Operation Snowflake”, an alert system that calls for maintenance crews to work around-the-clock to keep the highway open. CHP officials will determine if it’s necessary to shut down the highway as a safety precaution. If a closure is ordered, Caltrans will block off the Northbound I-5 lanes at Lake Hughes Road and Castaic and the Southbound I-5 lanes at Grapevine Road.

According to Caltrans, the Grapevine is a vital freeway that links Southern California to the Central Valley, with average daily traffic of 83,000 vehicles.

Caltrans also added a new tool this winter: a median gate that can swing open on I-5 at Castaic in Los Angeles County to turn around Northbound motorists to Southbound lanes. The gate was used during the 2019 Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays because I-5 was closed for extended times due to snow at the Tejon Pass summit.