Saturday, January 31, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Artists with trowels transform highway wall

Jameson wall sculptures 7_23_14

Workers sculpt a wall along Highway 12 on Jameson Canyon, Wednesday. The wall, built by the San Juan Capistrano-based Boulderscape, is intended to look natural and blend in with the surroundings. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | July 24, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD — Highway 12 through Jameson Canyon is getting a sculpture on a huge scale, basically an entire hillside.

It’s one of Solano County’s biggest pieces of artwork – perhaps the biggest – but it isn’t gaudy or flashy. The goal isn’t to create something never seen or imagined before.

Workers are wrapping up a project that keeps a massive, three-tier concrete retention wall along a half-mile of Highway 12 from looking like a concrete wall. The crew from San Juan Capistrano-based Boulderscape uses trowels to make the cement look like rock, a transformation completed as the wall gets stained brown.

In effect, the Boulderscape crew’s task is to make the unnatural look natural. The workers are laborers in one sense, but California Department of Transportation Senior Transportation Engineer Elias Moussa sees them as something more.

“They are artists,” Moussa said Wednesday as he walked along the construction site.

Caltrans cut alway a large section of the hill to make room for a four-lane version of Highway 12. That three-tier retaining wall is 130 feet tall at the highest point, with sections of 20 feet, 55 feet and 55 feet. Since Caltrans had the retaining wall created from the top down, the upper sections were textured to look like rock months ago and are by now a familiar sight to motorists.

Workers on Wednesday worked on the lowest section, which at this point is out of sight from traffic.

A five-person crew sculpted the last 4-inch layer of the 1-foot-thick retaining wall, following fast behind workers who sprayed the final layer of concrete onto rebar. A couple of the workers made swipes with trowels to create the rocky look, with other workers then finishing up with brushes and knives.

“It’s kind of a fractured-granite look,” said Todd Presho, the vice president of Boulderscape and art director for this project. “It’s done freehand. There’s no drawings or forms we use. It’s all done out of our imagination.”

And done quickly. The wet concrete hardens in about 40 minutes to an hour. The workers are in aerial buckets with their faces close to the wall, so they don’t see the big picture of what they’re doing. They have to get it right the first time.

They sculpt the rocky appearance, trying to create something pleasing to the eye. But they can’t be overly repetitious in their work.

“You’re trying to duplicate nature, which isn’t easy,” Presho said.

Altogether, Boulderscape is working on a piece of artwork that covers 200,000 square feet. This is large-scale sculpting.

“A helluva large scale,” Presho said.

It’s all part of the Highway 12 improvement project that began in spring 2012 and is to be finished in early September. Caltrans is changing the highway from a rural, narrow, two-lane road to a four-lane road with a concrete median barrier. The project extends 6 miles, from Interstate 80 in Solano County to Highway 29 in Napa County.

What Moussa called a “mini-milestone” is scheduled for Aug. 1 and it is to take place in part along the retaining wall.

Presently, eastbound and westbound drivers both use a two-lane section of road on top of the first retaining wall tier. But ultimately, these two lanes will take westbound drivers only. Eastbound drivers are to use two lanes recently paved at the base of the first retaining wall tier, 20 feet lower at one point.

Drivers will get a taste of this future beginning Aug. 1. Caltrans intends to open one lane of the lower, eastbound section and keep one lane of westbound traffic on the upper section. This will create space for workers to put the finishing touches on each section of the roadway by using the two closed lanes in each direction.

Once this traffic switch happens, eastbound drivers will get to see Solano County’s newest, massive piece of art from bottom to top.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 6 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • DaveJuly 23, 2014 - 8:57 pm

    AVAR Construction is very proud of this project and to have hired the best sculpting subcontractor to prove our work. To set the record straight, Ghilotti Construction excavated the hillside, then AVAR Construction drilled over 500,00 LF of Soil Nails and over 200,000 SF of ShotCrete to hold the hillside up. Once the hillside is secure AVAR then shot the final structural wall while Boulderscape sculpted. The best contractors always team with the best sub-contractors to put together great projects.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • RJuly 24, 2014 - 2:03 am

    How much is it costing us for this "art"?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksJuly 24, 2014 - 5:37 am

    Most projects where the walls are required have taken on this type of finishing touch, looks good.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • PornacJuly 24, 2014 - 7:38 am

    This a communist effort to keep the workers employed while the government makes us their slaves.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • antiBLOBJuly 24, 2014 - 7:30 pm

    Oh yeah, regular Michelangelo masterpiece.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Sandra StenmanJuly 25, 2014 - 9:58 pm

    I appreciate the article describing what has been done and how it was done. I love that it looks more natural than just plain concrete. I can't wait to see how it looks when it finally rains, especially the one area that looks like a waterfall. And of course so happy there are barriers now between the lanes. It was always a tense drive through the canyon. Thank you all:):)

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Solano County confirms 1st local case of measles

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: A1, 3 Comments

 
SPCA begins caring for more than 100 rescued dogs

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1, 4 Comments | Gallery

 
Top workers, top students – and succulent crab

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Partial Fairfield freeway road closure starts Monday

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

 
DUI patrols set for Super Bowl Sunday

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

Armijo students savor catered Fuddruckers lunch

By Susan Hiland And Susan Winlow | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Fairfield police log: Jan. 29, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Suisun City police log: Jan. 29, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
.

US / World

Stanford University to get $50 million to produce vaccines

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

 
Man charged in California family’s deaths will be own lawyer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

PG&E releases thousands of emails with state regulators

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Yosemite park fee hikes coming in March

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

San Francisco coroner says human remains are from 1 man

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Balloon crew makes history crossing Pacific Ocean

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Murder trial begins 35 years after 6-year-old vanished in NY

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Judge: Funeral home wrongly sold Lee Harvey Oswald’s casket

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Jordan awaits proof hostage is alive after swap deadline

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Judge expresses doubt about constitutionality of no-fly list

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
French fracture laid bare as 8-year-old praises terrorists

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
US mulls Middle East-North Africa category for 2020 Census

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
.

Opinion

 
GOP should plan for post-Obamacare world

By Ramesh Ponnuru | From Page: A8, 6 Comments

Editorial Cartoon: Jan. 31, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Solano College news makes me sick

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 2 Comments

.

Living

Community Calendar: Jan. 31, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Jan. 31, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Jan. 31, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

 
My recently widowed mother is already thinking about re-marrying

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B7

Five ways 3D-printed food will change the way we eat

By The Washington Post | From Page: B10, 1 Comment

 
.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
List: 10 Super Bowl ads you’ll be talking about

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Rod McKuen, mega-selling poet and performer, dies at 81

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Miranda Lambert leads ACM Awards with 8 nominations

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Shakira gives birth to 2nd baby with Spanish football star

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
.

Sports

 
Hayward, Utah Jazz upset Golden State Warriors 110-100

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

LeBron returns, Love, Irving team for 44, as Cavs top Kings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Mustangs ride away from Indian’s home court with 66-60 victory

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Kings’ Cousins to replace Kobe Bryant in All-Star game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Laird leads as Tiger shoots 82 and misses the cut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Seau, Warner, Pace first-time Hall eligibles

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

N.H. Speedway general manager faces lewdness charge

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Judge: Jury can watch Super Bowl unless Hernandez mentioned

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Blackhawks Hall of Famer Stan Mikita has brain disorder

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Ko takes lead at LPGA opener, closes in on golf history

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Djokovic beats Wawrinka to reach fifth Australian Open final

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Carroll says decision is Sherman’s if baby arrives early

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

NFL’s Goodell seeks to look past ‘tough year,’ to future

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
This date in sports history for Jan. 31, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Business

US consumer confidence at highest level in a decade

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Companies steering clear of Super Bowl name

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5, 1 Comment

.

Obituaries

Danica Gojkovich Ryder

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Anneliese Edith (Luckner) Fraser

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
.

Home Seller 1/31/2015

Quirky add-ons a common feature of celebrity homes

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR2

Real estate transactions for Jan. 31, 2015

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR3

5 ways to make a kitchen more germ-free

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR3

Average US rate on 30-year mortgage rises to 3.66 percent

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR3