Sunday, 16 June 2024

Clean California gateway project to add buzz to ‘Queen Bee Capital of North America’

A bee sculpture created by Orland artist Jake Midgley. Photo courtesy of Caltrans.

ORLAND, Calif. — Caltrans recently began construction on a unique city gateway project that will bring new buzz to the city of Orland, known as the “Queen Bee Capital of North America.”

The centerpiece of the $2.7 million project at the interchange of Interstate 5 and State Route 32 will be two bee sculptures created by Orland artist Jake Midgley that will stand about 16 feet high at opposite sides of the interchange and will be complemented by unique honeycomb-like paving.

The project is made possible through Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Clean California initiative, a sweeping, $1.2 billion, multiyear clean-up effort led by Caltrans to remove trash, create thousands of jobs and join with communities throughout the state to reclaim, transform and beautify public spaces.

“Public art and public transportation are a natural, powerful pairing, one that Orland’s new queen-bee themed city gateway will wonderfully demonstrate for many years to come,” said Caltrans Director Tony Tavares.

This project — the second of six Clean California projects to begin construction in Caltrans District 3, which includes Glenn County — also will upgrade the interchange where 2,500 vehicles travel each day. Increased safety measures will include additional paving and new landscaping with inert material such as rock, gravel, and recycled glass.

The contract was awarded to Vanguard Construction of Livermore.

Many Clean California projects throughout the state will include public art and other design aesthetics. Among its many positive attributes, art in public spaces has been shown to benefit communities by reducing illegal dumping and graffiti.

“The city of Orland is pleased and proud to partner with Caltrans in beautifying the freeway interchange at exit 619 in Orland,” said Orland City Manager Peter R. Carr. “The unique, locally hand-crafted honeybee sculptures and honeycomb-stamped concrete will announce to motorists that they have arrived in the Queen Bee Capital of North America, will become an enduring asset of local esteem, and will instill public pride in the state’s highway system. Leveraging the talents of a local welder-artist and state contractors, this project benefits the community and the traveling public with an improved freeway interchange experience.”

Caltrans District 3 Director Amarjeet S. Benipal said the feedback Caltrans received from the city during the planning stages for the project, and from the public during the community meeting held in January, were extremely valuable.

“Caltrans fully appreciates the effort the City of Orland made to gather public input for this project,” he said. “This engagement provided us with important information to improve the safety and aesthetics of this gateway to the City of Orland. The two locally designed bee sculptures and honeycomb paving included in the project will make clear the city’s unique identity as the Queen Bee Capital of North America.”

This project is among 126 Clean California beautification projects worth $312 million designed to help energize communities and create connectivity along the state highway system.

There are an additional 105 projects statewide funded by nearly $300 million in Clean California local grants to remove litter and transform public spaces in underserved communities. Collectively, these projects are expected to generate 7,200 jobs.

The new state budget includes $100 million to fund another round of Clean California local grant projects.

Since launching Clean California in July 2021, Caltrans has removed more than 1.1 million cubic yards of litter from state highways — the equivalent of nearly 19,000 tons or enough to fill 344 Olympic-size swimming pools — and hired more than 800 new team members as part of Clean California, including 420 maintenance workers who collect litter and remove graffiti. For more information, visit

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