Changes to the California Highways Website: September – December 2017

We’ve come to the end of another year, with many promises broken (where is that Infrastructure bill again?), some kept (SB1 seems to be working), and some satisfied only as an illusion. But, if you want politics, you go to my blog. If you want highway stuff with more facts and less opinion, you come to the main pages. Speaking of the main pages, a thought has begun to crop into my head: I need to do a bit of remodeling. I’m “old school”, working off hard-coded HTML, minimal style sheets, and information generated through perl scripts. I’d like to bring the page frameworks into something more responsive, and something that will work better for mobile devices. I’d also like to move any internal site references to HTTPS if possible (and if Westhost gets the certificate stuff straightened out). I don’t really need HTTPS, but being a cybersecurity professional, my site should probably use it even though there is no real risk to mitigate. Not to mention that I don’t want browsers flagging my site as insecure or dangerous, because they can’t understand the context or the purpose of a site. In any case, if readers have pointers to sites I should peruse to learn how to do this, please let me know.

Moving on to the updates: Updates were made to the following highways, based on my reading of the papers (which are posted to the roadgeeking category at the “Observations Along The Road” and to the California Highways Facebook group) as well as any backed up email changes. I also reviewed the the AAroads forum. This resulted in changes on the following routes, with credit as indicated [my research(1), contributions of information or leads (via direct mail) from andy3175/AARoads(2), Tom Fearer​/​Max Rockatansky/AARoads(3), Kniwt/AARoads(4), Sparker/AARoads(5): Route 1(1,3), US 6(5), I-10(1), Route 14(1), I-15(1), Route 26(1), Route 27(1), Route 29(1), Route 33(3), Route 37(1), Route 39(1), Route 41(1,3), Route 46(1), Route 49(1), US 50(5), Route 51/Business Route 80(2), Route 58(3), Route 63(1,3), Route 64(1), Route 66(3), Route 67(1), Route 68(3), Route 70(1), Route 74(1), Route 75(3), Route 79(1), I-80(1,2), Route 91(1), Route 99(1,3), US-101(1,3), LRN 117(3), Route 120(1), Route 121(1), Route 123(1),LRN 134(3), Route 137(1,3), Route 152(1,3), Route 156(3), Route 168(4,5), Route 180(3), I-205(3), I-210(1), Route 216(3), Route 233(3), Route 241(1), I-280(1), Southern Crossing / I-380(1); I-580(3), I-680(1), I-710(1), County Route J1(3), and Los Angeles County Route N1(1).

Added links from Challenger66’s posts on the “Sure, Why Not?” blog to the appropriate pages: Route 1, Route 24, Route 25, Route 41, Route 43, Route 58, Route 63, Route 65, Route 66, Route 68, Route 75, Route 99, US 101, Route 137, Route 140, Route 152, Route 156, Route 180, Route 183, Route 201, Route 204, I-205, Route 216, Route 218, Route 233, I-580, County Route G16, County Route G17, County Route G20, County Route J1, County Route J21. Thanks to Challenger (cough) Max (cough) Tom (cough) Whatever your name is today for putting these up.

Moved all the historic route designations to the proper sections.

Fixed the links to the various resolution archives in the chronology. A tip of the hat to James White, Senior Transportation Surveyor, in Caltrans District 7 for catching that the websites had moved.

Added a question to the FAQ to provide links to sites to see how highway money is being spent.

Reviewed the Pending Legislation page, based on the new California Legislature site. As usual, I recommend to every Californian that they visit the legislative website regularly and see what their legis-critters are doing. I noted the passage/veto of the following bills and resolutions (for some of these, I’ve highlighted key phrases in red):

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Headlines about California Highways: December 2017

It’s the last week of the last month of the year, so guess how that means I’m spending my Christmas? That’s right, doing highway updates before I go out for Chinese Food and a movie. I’ve already processed the October and November headlines, which means I now need to post the December headlines so I can process them. I should have the updates completed, and ready for upload and posting, by the end of the year. Here are your headlines:

  • Hemet City Council attempts to go over Caltrans’ head in median strip protest. A letter written in the strongest terms with supporting data objecting to Caltrans plans to erect a median strip on Florida Avenue is being sent to the state transportation department by the Hemet City Council, following a contentious council discussion Tuesday, Nov. 14. The issue with Caltrans plans to build the median strips in the middle of Florida Avenue from West Acacia through the downtown area and to the eastern city limits has been the subject of controversy between Caltrans District 8 project manager and engineers and the city for months.
  • Westside Parkway and the Centennial Corridor; Future California State Route 58. After completing California State Route 43 I doubled back north to Stockdale Highway to check out a major highway construction project which will eventually reroute CA 58; the Westside Parkway and Centennial Corridor.
  • California State Route 204; Former US 99 in Bakersfield. After finishing the Westside Parkway I swung onto California State Route 58 eastbound. I pulled off on California State Route 204 to take north through the city of Bakersfield.
  • California State Route 65; South Segment. After leaving Bakersfield I decided to take a mountain side way back to Fresno and turned off CA 99 onto the southern portion of California State Route 65.

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California Highway Headlines for November 2017

November is always a busy month as we come down to the wire to the Annual Computer Security Applications Conference. But I do have time to grab headlines as they come across the wire…. although it does seem there were fewer this month than usual…

  • Boyd Drive (former California State Route 63). Continuing where I left off from the J21 blog I had to find a way out of the Sierras. I’ve taken CA 245 so many times that it seemed kind of passe to do it in some abbreviated way south to Woodlake. That being the case I noticed an oddity on some state highway maps from the early 1950s which showed California State Route 63 running east of Orosi to what was CA 65 along Boyd Drive. Traveling southbound on CA 245 I turned west onto former CA 63 on Boyd Drive.
  • Signed County Route J21. I thought it might be interesting to explore some previous journeys this year before I started writing road blogs. This particular trip was back in January of this year as the Sierras were getting pounded by some of the heaviest winter weather California has seen in a long time. I was looking for an interesting route to take which brought me back to a route my GPS always seemed to be pushing to get off of CA 245; Signed County Route J21. J21 is an 18 mile Signed County Route created in 1968 entirely within Tulare County. J21 runs entirely on Dry Creek Road and has junctions at CA 216 to the south in addition to CA 245 to the north. Much like almost all Signed County Routes in Tulare County, J21 is in fact now unsigned. I began my trip on J21 northward from CA 216 under a malaise of low hanging mountain fog, the guide sign showed Badger to only 19 miles to the north.
  • Throwback Thursday; California State Route 75. I figured that I would throw my hat in for some Throwback Thursdays myself given that I have a ton of older road albums that I’ve been looking at updating. Today’s throw back goes back to February 5th 2010 along California State Route 75 in Coronado.
  • Roadshow: New bridge on Highway 101 is pathway to Caltrain. Q: You mentioned a new pedestrian/bike bridge is coming on Highway 101 at Hillsdale Boulevard. Why in the world do we need separate pedestrian/bike bridges anyway? There was one built on 101 at Marine Parkway/Ralston Avenue a few years ago and there are rarely any pedestrians or bikes on it — certainly not enough to justify the cost. There are already regular bridges at these locations, and they have sidewalks. Why can’t pedestrians and bikes use these bridges as they have for the last 50 years? Pedestrians and bikes share all other roads with cars, so why not the same with bridges? What a waste.
  • Lake County highway projects get go-ahead from state commission. The California Transportation Commission has approved nearly $15 million in highway projects for Lake County. At its meeting earlier this month, the commission approved 90 major “fix-it-first” transportation projects across California, worth nearly $3.4 billion, submitted by Caltrans. Caltrans said it added nearly 1,200 lane miles of pavement repair and 66 bridges to its growing list of projects to be delivered sooner than planned thanks to the imminent influx of revenue from the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, or SB 1, the transportation funding and reform package the State Legislature passed in April.

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Headlines About California Highways from October 2017

We survived October, some better than others. We’ve seen significant damage to our roadways and communities from fires. We’ve seen roads closed during the spring storms start to reopen. We’ve already seen roads being closed due to snow. And winter is coming folks: bringing more storms and wet weather. On the funding front, we’re starting to see the allocations show up from SB1, the increase in the gas tax to cover transportation and transportation infrastructure maintenance. We’re also seeing folks gearing up to fight the gas tax, without a proposal for how our roads will be funded. Interesting times indeed, and it doesn’t even explore how the Federal tax proposals will impact highway funding.

And you thought Halloween was scary.

But… let’s ignore it… and look at the headlines… and for those of you reading this on my blog, I got out the tools and spiffed up the place a little. I’d love to hear what you think of the remodel.

  • I-680 express lanes opening Monday. After over two years of construction, the opening date for San Ramon Valley’s Interstate 680 express lanes are officially scheduled to open this Monday (Oct. 9). The $56 million project has involved converting the single high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane in each direction into a toll express lane as a tool to help reduce congestion. It includes one northbound express lane from Alcosta Boulevard in San Ramon to Livorna Road in Alamo, and one southbound express lane from Rudgear Road in Walnut Creek to Alcosta Boulevard.
  • What can be done to ease southwest Riverside County traffic on the 15 Freeway?. There was a time when traffic flowed freely on the 15 Freeway. There also was a time when we used the Pony Express to send long-distance messages. And while it wasn’t 160 years ago that the 15 Freeway was without congestion, it may seem so when you’re crawling along slower than a tired pony. Temecula Councilman Mike Naggar is leading a rescue posse to do something before the traffic gets worse.
  • Marin carpool lane expansion project still stalled out. Plans to expand carpool lane hours in Marin are still stuck in neutral. Last week local politicians, transportation officials and Caltrans representatives met to talk about a Metropolitan Transportation Commission plan to expand the hours from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 to 9 a.m. southbound on Highway 101 as a three-month pilot. But there remains opposition from most Marin officials, who fear the move would make traffic worse on the freeway. Caltrans — the agency with the final say — has remained non-committal. The initial MTC plan had the pilot going from October to December, but that has failed to materialize.
  • Marin has four highway hot spots on traffic nightmare list. If the Novato-to-San Rafael morning commute feels like it has grown worse in recent years, it’s because it has, according to a Metropolitan Transportation Commission report. The agency released a list of the 50 most-congested corridors in the region and four locales are in Marin. The latest findings — based on 2016 traffic counts — show the morning southbound Highway 101 commute from Rowland Boulevard in Novato to North San Pedro Road in San Rafael is 15th worst in the Bay Area. The ranking was based on traffic measured from 6:40 to 10:05 a.m. Last year it was 14th. While the segment dropped in rank, the traffic got worse.

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September 2017 Headlines about California Highways

Ah, September. A month for endings. Not route endings, but the ending of summer and the start of fall, the ending of 5777 and the start of 5778, and the ending of the government fiscal year and the start of a new one. I hope that your September ended on a good note. With that, some headlines:

  • New Protected Bikeway Connects Mid-City To Mission Valley. State and local transportation officials on Wednesday opened a mile-long protected bike lane alongside SR-15, creating a safer and more comfortable bike route between Mission Valley and Mid-City neighborhoods. Construction of the $15.5 million bikeway took about a year and a half, but plans for the project were first adopted locally in 2010. The project was a joint effort by Caltrans and the San Diego Association of Governments, the regional transportation planning agency.
  • California lawmakers act to name stretch of 134 Freeway in honor of former President Obama. State lawmakers Tuesday gave final approval to designating a section of the 134 Freeway as the President Barack H. Obama Highway in honor of the 44th president of the United States.
  • Progress on I-5 Construction in San Clemente. Work on the northbound I-5 ramps at Avenida Pico in San Clemente, which are being realigned to accommodate a freeway widening through the city, is expected to be completed by late October. The widening is part of a $230 million project to extend the carpool lanes from San Juan Capistrano to San Clemente. The project requires the complete reconstruction of the Pico interchange, with Pico being widened and straightened to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion.

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Changes to California Highways (The Website): June – September 2017

We’re up to the closing three-day weekend of the summer, and that means it is time to start on a website update. It’s been a busy summer and a hot summer, with an almost 4,900 road trip from Los Angeles CA to Madison WI and back, out through the middle (Colorado, Nebraska) and back through St. Louis and the “mother road”. Work has continued on California Highways, especially thanks to some tax modifications that provided a much needed infrastructure boost to the state. As for that promised Infrastructure bill from the Feds, it remains just that, a promise.

Updates were made to the following highways, based on my reading of the papers (which are posted to the roadgeeking category at the “Observations Along The Road” and to the California Highways Facebook group) as well as any backed up email changes. I also reviewed the the AAroads forum. This resulted in changes on the following routes, with credit as indicated [my research(1), contributions of information or leads (via direct mail) from Mike Ballard(2), Bill Deaver(3), Andy Field(4), Gonealookin/AARoads(5), Ron Langum(6), NE2/AARoads(7), Alex Nitzman(8), Max Rockatansky/AARoads(9), Joe Rouse(10), Sparker/AARoads(11); Michelle Sandoval(12), Richard Severeid(13): Route 1(1), Route 4(6), I-5(1), Former US 6(2), I-8(1), I-10(1), Route 12(13), I-15(1), Route 16(1), Route 25(1), Route 27(1), Route 29(1), Route 32(9), Route 36(1), LRN 36(7,9,11), Route 37(1), US 40(9), Route 41(9,11), Route 43(9), Route 49(1,9,7,11), US 50(1,5,9), Route 57(1), Route 58(1,10), Route 62(1), Route 63(7,9,11), Route 65(9), Former US 66(1), Route 70(9), Route 75(1), Route 76(1), I-80(1,9), Route 87(1), Route 88(9,11), Route 89(1), Route 91(1), Route 94(1), LRN 94(11), Route 99(1,13), US 101(1,4), Route 104(9,11), Route 108(1), Route 120(9), LRN 120(9), Route 121(1), Route 124(9,11), Route 132(1), Route 134(1), LRN 135(9), Route 136(9), Route 138(1), Route 140(9), Route 145(9), Route 146(9), Route 152(1), Route 155(11), Route 158(9), Route 163(1), Route 172(9,11,7), Route 174(1), Route 178(1,9), Route 180(9), Route 201(9), Route 203(9), Route 204(1), Route 211(11), Route 237(1), Route 269(9), Route 270(9), US 395(1), I-405(1), US 466(3), Route 480(1), I-505(8), I-580(1), I-605(1), I-680(1), I-710(1), Monterey County Route G13(9), Monterey County Route G14(9), Tulare County Route J37(9); FAQ(12). Note: Almost all of the SB 1 projects discussed here are resurfacing or repair of infrastructure, not new construction or widening. Thus, they are below the level of detail that I normally capture in these pages.

Noted the passing of Matthew Salek’s Highways of Colorado (and updated the regional pages appropriately). If I had lights, I’d dim them in it’s memory as another major roadsite disappears.

Updated the highway types page to clarify the difference between being a scenic highway in the legislative code and being an actual state scenic highway. The Q2-2017 Mile Marker explained the difference: “Many highway corridors are eligible for Scenic Highway status, but receiving an official designation requires the local government to apply to Caltrans for approval and adopt a Corridor Protection Program. The local governing body must develop and implement measures that strictly limit development and control outdoor advertising along the scenic corridor. ”

Sometimes an innocent question can lead one down an interesting path. Such is the case with the question I received from David Walker, who asked “Who or what named the ditches on I-10?”. This led me to and the National Bridge Inventory. This resulted in an addition to the FAQ, and a list of ditch names for I-10. I thought I might add them for some other desert routes, but the interface doesn’t make that easy. Another query that didn’t lead to an easy update to the site was a reporter from the OC Register, Kurt Snibbe, who wanted to do a piece explaining California’s road signs. It didn’t quite fit into a particular road’s page, and didn’t quite fit onto a specific numbering page, so it was shoehorned into the page on signing standards and the FAQ. Read More …


Headlines About California Highways – August 2017

August — The month for roadtrips. Hopefully, some of you have been having fun on California’s roads. Me? It’s been a roadtrip to Madison Wisconsin via I-15, I-70, I-76, I-80 and US 151. The return, through St. Louis, has been an equal roadtrip: I-90, I-39, I-55, I-44 (US 66), I-40 (US 66), and I-15. Of course, in and out of LA, we did the high desert route: Route 18, Route 138, and Route 14. If you want to read about those trips, I’ve done three posts: (#1: Get Your Kicks on Route 66; #2: The Evolution of the Hotel; and #3: Confederate Statues and Route 66). Of course, if you just want to read about what’s happening in hot California, here are the headlines I’ve accumulated this month:

  • OCTA Secures $629 Million Federal Loan for I-405 Improvement Project. A loan secured by OCTA marks a major milestone in funding the I-405 Improvement Project while saving taxpayers millions of dollars. Last week, OCTA signed the final documents with the U.S. Department of Transportation for the $627 million loan through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA). The TIFIA loan will pay for a major portion of the $1.9 billion worth of freeway improvements set to begin construction early next year.
  • I-5 South County Improvements Project Overhead Sign Work is Completed. Construction crews have completed the overhead carpool sign installation on southbound and northbound I-5. The lane and full freeway closures for this work on I-5 are now complete. The construction on the I-5 South County Improvements Project began in 2014. The project will add nearly six miles of carpool lanes in each direction from Avenida Pico in San Clemente to San Juan Creek Road in San Juan Capistrano. The overhead sign work is part of the project’s San Juan Creek Road to PCH Segment. The remaining work on this portion of the project includes realignment of the median barrier, landscaping installation and final striping.
  • Highway 1 to be rebuilt on top of Mud Creek Slide. Here’s how Caltrans will do it. Drivers on Highway 1 will be going over — not around or through — the Mud Creek Slide when the coast route reopens. “The new roadway will be realigned across the landslide,” the agency said Tuesday in a news release, adding that the highway will be “buttressed with a series of embankments, berms, rocks, netting, culverts and other stabilizing material.”

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Get Your Kicks on Route 66

We just got back from a long roadtrip: Los Angeles to Madison WI to St. Louis MO and back. We went out through the mountains (I-15 to I-70 to I-76 to I-80 to US 151), down through the heartland (I-39/90 to I-39 to I-55 to I-270), and back along former US Route 66 (I-44 to I-40 to I-15, with numerous digressions to the historical route). Here are a few observations on the trip:

  • Nevada/Arizona (I-15). Although the stretch to Las Vegas is well known, the drive further N through the canyons before St. George UT is beautiful. The Arizona stretch of I-15 is interesting when you understand that there is no accessibility to it from elsewhere in Arizona — ADOT must get to it through either NV or UT. In any case, the chiseling out of those canyons was remarkable, and it is just a great drive. I’ll also note that Nevada DOT does some beautiful bridges and interchanges.
  • Utah (I-15/I-70). The stretch of UT up to I-70 was an interesting drive, but even more interesting was I-70 through Utah. It was some of the most remarkable scenery I have ever seen — bluffs and plateaus and wonderful rock formations. Kudos to those who constructed the highway in this area for their hard work, and just imagine how hard it was for pre-Interstate travelers. The views are just spectacular, and the vista points are worth the stop. UDOT also does some beautiful bridges and interchanges.
  • Colorado (I-70). The stretch in Colorado between Grand Junction and Denver is spectacular as you drive along the origins of the mighty Colorado river, and through beautiful mountains and passes. Just… wow.  Also, we could tell we were moving east as the houses changed from stucco and brick to siding and brick. This is one stretch of I-70 with little to no cellular reception, at least W of Denver through Vail.
  • Colorado/Nebraska (I-76, I-80). This stretch is dull country. Flat fields of corn. You would tend to think of the plains as vast openness. Well, it is, plus corn and cows. The small towns are, well, small. Driving these roads, however, you can begin to get a sense of where Trump’s support comes from. These are very heterogeneous communities: mostly the same race, the same background, the same church. They have been hit hard by economic woes, by the money moving to the urban coastal towns, by the jobs that the legal immigrants are willing to take and do (and they don’t see in the faces the distinction between legal and illegal, so they are lumped together). The other — the person from outside their community, from outside their frame of reference — is to be feared, and Trump just played to that. I don’t think we saw a single synagogue in the small towns; the Jewish population must be negligible. This, I think, emphasizes the point that the best solution to racism is eliminating the bars of segregation. Intermingling changes people from “the other” to “my neighbor” — and it is true for race, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or any other point of division you can think of.
  • Iowa (I-80). Rolling hills of farmland. It was weird driving it at night, seeing all the red lights on the wind farm towers without the ability to see them for what they were. Landing lights? Power lines? Nope, wind farm. I hadn’t realized how hilly Iowa was. Driving through Cedar Rapids on our way up US 151 to Dubuque was a land of farms, leading us into picturesque Wisconsin. We stayed at a small motel in Stuart, just outside of Des Moines. This was an example of a well-cared for old motel, unlike the motel in Julesberg CO.
  • Wisconsin (US 151). This is what farmland should look like. Postcard perfect. Beautiful country. Great cheese. Most importantly, it is where are daughter is, so “Go Badgers!”. Driving around the UW-Madison campus showed how pretty it was, and the town was easy to navigate.
  • Illinois (I-90, I-39, I-55, US 66). Our first impression of Illinois was having their hand out for a toll road: I-90 for the segment before I-39 splits off. After that, it was farmland, and highway signs that were much too wordy. We followed US 66 in some stretches paralleling I-55 for a bit, and it was well marked, although many of the 66 towns were dying or clearly dependent on 66 tourism. This was on the day of the eclipse, which we really didn’t see as we were in Rochelle IL where it was very cloudy. We did, however, see the incredible traffic on I-55 between St. Louis and Bloomington — all the people returning from viewing the eclipse. Bumper to bumper.
  • Missouri (I-270, I-44). First, I must note that St. Louis and its suburbs is still one of my favorite cities, and home to some of my favorite people. Driving through the Ozarks was interesting: I hadn’t realized that it was so forested and there were so many trees and streams. Beautiful country.
  • Kansas (US 66). We took US 66 out of Joplin because Oklahoma doesn’t make their turnpike prices and policies easy to find for tourists. This meant we actually traversed the portion of US 66 that cuts a corner of Kansas. These are towns that are clearly facing away thanks to the rerouting of 66.
  • Oklahoma (US 66, I-44, I-40). As noted above, Oklahoma does not make turnpike policies easy to find, and so we tried to follow 66. That didn’t always work, especially in Miami OK where 66 isn’t signed well when it meets US 59/69. This lead us in the wrong direction, and then nav took us even further afield. We eventually make it to Tulsa, however, and then to Oklahoma City where we were finally turnpike free. I-40 and following US 66 was much easier W of OK City, where it is signed as OK 66. Long flat prairie. Lots of dying towns.
  • Texas (I-40, US 66). US 66 was pretty easy to follow in Texas. Again, long flat prairie, with towns dependent on US 66. Amarillo had a load of construction along I-40 that made it hard to follow the frontage road. I really hate the frontage road onramps to I-40 that are neither well-marked, nor provide safe access. Only in Texas would the hotels have waffle makers shaped like Texas. I did have fun playing a lot of “I’m leaving Texas” songs as we left the state.  I did try to find the Cadillac Ranch, although I couldn’t find the cars.
  • New Mexico (I-40, US 66). Long, flat, and straight. That’s I-40 in New Mexico E of Albuquerque, with the occasional ride through US 66 towns such as Tucumcari. Albuquerque is neat: they are preserving the Route 66 neon along Central Ave, even if they aren’t preserving the buildings. There is also an incredible amount of public art in the city. Central Ave is really gentrifying. We also knew we were back in the West again, as stucco reemerged. The NM-DOT interchanges in Albuquerque are also quite nice; however, they make it a real pain to get on the freeway with the long frontage roads — especially near the I-25 / I-40 interchange. I’ve also decided that Santa Fe exists to separate wealthy people from their money. West of Albuquerque is flatland, with increasing bluffs and some lovely Route 66 diversions in both Grant and Gallop. Former trading posts along Route 66 were being replaced by Native American Casinos (I’m guessing slot machines are an easier way to separate tourists from their money than selling pottery and blankets). There are still Native American stores near the highway, and a few of the “old school” shops exist in the larger Route 66 cities. However, the merchandise seems mostly to be the same everywhere (including the jewelry), making me wonder how much is Native American made, vs. Native American ordered. New Mexico does a pretty good job of signing historic Route 66, but it is clear that many of the towns are highly dependent on Route 66 tourism and nostalgia — and there are so many dead / dying motels and gas stations. One other oddity: Unleaded gas is 86 octane in both Texas and New Mexico, not the 87 we’ve come to expect — which is a pain when your manual insists on 87 or higher.
  • Arizona (I-40, US 66). In many areas, the old 66 trading posts still exist, and seem nicer than the touristy ones. We particularly liked the ones just across the AZ/NM border in Lupton AZ. As we noted in NM, a lot of the old trading posts have been upsized into full casinos to separate the tourist from their money. We did take a number of US 66 diversions, especially those that were also Business I-40 loops. This included the classic towns like Holbrook and Winslow. Loads of loads of dead motels along the way (and dead gas stations). Were I still in the photography mode, there could be some beautiful photo-essays there. I still remember the dead outposts at Meteor City (the exit before the actual crater), Fort Courage, and a number along the path in Holbrook and Winslow. However, classic trading posts such as those in Lupton and the Jackrabbit are still around. As the “Route 66” song says, we didn’t forget Winona, although it was very forgettable — perhaps two gas stations. It was also well off the road and not on a Business 40 routing — you took County 515 up past Winona to US 89, and then US 89 into Flagstaff. Given there is a different routing now for former 66, I think the routing past Winona was an older one from perhaps the 40s, and was replaced by a more southerly routing that leaves 40 near exit 204 (then again, it could have been that Winona was near the highway, and was so dead with missed it and thought it was further up the mountain). and well off the road). ADOT doesn’t do pretty interchanges, and tends not to maintain old 66 except in the major Business 40 towns.
  • California. It is so nice to see postmiles and Botts Dots again (even though the latter is going away). California is doing a better job of signing Historic Route 66 along I-40, although it tends to spell it out vs. using the historic sign. However, they refuse to use the Business I-40 shield: they would rather spell it out. Seeing the SBD CR 66 sign reminded me of my role in getting that route created: they came to me for the sign specifications (and it should have been either N-66, P-66, R-66, or S-66 to be proper, given the county group). There are many dead hotels and gas stations in Needles, and an increasing number in Barstow. Next stop: Home!

We also noticed, along the road, the dearth of decent coffee shops. You only found good local coffee and tea — or even marginal Starbucks — in the larger cities. At the truck stops and gas stations along the major interstates — no decent coffee. In many of the small and dying towns — no decent coffee. It appears that Starbuck-style coffee shops, as opposed to diner-style coffee shops, only exist in areas with sufficient disposal income.

As for our thoughts on where we stayed, which will eventually go into reviews:

  • La Quinta, St. George UT. Very nice hotel. Some portions were under-construction, but no big deal. Very pet friendly, nice breakfast. In fact, it was so pet friendly that they had a “pet row” on the first floor; it turned out that next to us was the wife an Aerospace employee with her pet. It reminded how much we liked the La Quinta chain; when we last did Route 66 we stayed at a number of their properties.
  • Motel 6, Grand Junction CO. Cheap and clean, although you paid extra for the WiFi. Spartan furnishings, but worked well for the pet. And I do mean Spartan: thin smaller towels (but clean), lighter blankets, not updated for a lot of plugs, paying extra for the wi-fi, smaller rooms. But they were clean and everything worked. Motel 6 is what it advertises itself to be: clean and cheap. But that is also why we normally don’t stay there, except when I’m having to pay for two rooms and to have a pet-friendly motel.
  • Budget Host Platte Valley Inn, Julesburg CO. An old highway motel, pet friendly but that’s about it. Restaurant closed, about to reopen. Our daughter’s room smelled of animal urine (as the pet room), but then had a roof leak from an air conditioner so they moved her. Bathroom skimpy. The place needs some TLC. No working ice machine. Note that there are no restaurants nearby, and the ones somewhat close are closed by 8pm. Your best bet is to go to Big Bs Bar and Grill in Ovid — we had some great ribs there. (It turns out they used to run the restaurant at the hotel, but that’s a long story)
  • Stuart Motor Lodge, Stuart IA. Yet another old highway motel, but this one was loved. Nice room, nice amenities. Clean and cared for. Yelp reports it as closed, but it is open and we liked it quite a bit. I did get a chuckle from the sign at checkin that indicated that locals could not stay in the hotel. Hmmm. As for the hotel: Nothing particularly fancy, but we didn’t require fancy. It worked very well for my daughter’s dog.
  • Best Western East Towne Suites, Madison WI. The first hotel that didn’t need to be pet friendly. Nice, clean, comfortable, with a good breakfast. Good location: near I-90, and easy to get to our daughter’s room with lots of shopping nearby. When we go back to Madison, we’ll certainly consider this place.
  • Comfort Inn and Suites, St. Louis (Westport) MO. Not as nice as the reviews made it out to be. The Ice machine on the first floor wasn’t working, and the parking left a lot to be desired. We had some sort of water leak near the A/C that we realized the 2nd day, which left our room a bit musty. Still, for what we were doing, the location was nice.
  • Country Inn, Tulsa OK. Nice hotel with nice personnel. Decent breakfast. We’ve always liked this chain. They were easy to get to.
  • Sleep Inn and Suites, Amarillo TX. What is it with the Choice Hotel chain and water? First the door key wouldn’t work, so they moved us to a different (and much nicer room). Kudos to the very receptive front desk staff on duty that evening. This would have been great… except that there was a water leak by the A/C that left 1/3 of the room with a sopping floor, and although there was a TV for the in-room whirlpool, there were no controls for the TV. The Waffles were in the shape of Texas — only in Texas. Alas, the front desk staff didn’t stay good: we never got a receipt because the front desk clerk couldn’t be bothered to do it, insisting instead that our third-party booking company (AAA) would send us one. They never did.
  • Econolodge Old Town, Albuequerque NM. One of the nicer motels we’ve been at — good breakfast, good people. This was clearly an older hotel that had been updated by an owner that cared about the property. They even had posole out in the evening for guests, and made their typical breakfast very nice. One oddity: Their wireless network keeps changing its identification from “Econolodge N” to “Econolodge N+1”. We’re now up to 4. This isn’t a new network, mind you — you stay connected, you don’t have to re-login. It seems to be just a new name. The water problem here? The vanity sink drained slow — that was about it. So Econolodge was the best of the Choice chain.
  • Green Tree Inn, Flagstaff AZ. Nice room, no identifiable problems (except for the couple in the room next to us who were loud). The hotel has gone green, meaning pump bottles of amenities instead of little bottles. They also had an interesting stall shower instead of the usual tub/shower combination. They also had the largest bath towels of any of the hotels on this trip — a win in my book.  They were the only hotel to provide two luggage racks — another plus. They were in this area with loads of hotels off former 66, right next to I-40 where I-17 ends, over by NAU.
  • River Valley Inn, Needles CA. This is an older Route 66 hotel, but again well maintained. No breakfast. The room did have a ceiling fan, which was useful. But clean room (modulo the occasional small desert flying bug that goes with the territory), well insulated, that didn’t cost much.

On the whole, we put almost 4900 miles on the car in just under 3 weeks. The Subaru was a champ on the road, although it did have a bit of effort at the higher altitudes. But then again, so did I. The best full tank “milage to empty” was 690; typically it was between 500-560. A few more Mother Road observations in some follow-on posts.