California Highway Headlines for June 2016

userpic=roadgeekingI had hoped to finish the updates to the California Highways pages by the end of May. Thanks to an auto accident after the Science Festival led to having to replace a car, that didn’t happen. I then hoped to have them done by mid-June. Thanks to the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) and seeing (and writing up) 17 shows, that didn’t happen. The plan is now to finish everything by the end of the 4th of July weekend. But we have two shows booked for that weekend, so let’s see if it really happens. Meanwhile, news keeps popping up about California Highways; here’s what popped out in June (those items that have not yet been processed into the pages are shown with ♦):

  • Caltrans wants public input on Highway 17 plan. There are now 60,000 vehicles that drive Highway 17 each weekday. That’s up from 54,500 just two years ago. And by 2040, that number is expected to soar to nearly 80,000. Bracing for the increase, Caltrans wants to improve how motorists get on and off the congested corridor in Santa Cruz County. And the transportation agency is asking for public to weigh in.
  • Roundabouts are coming, but do they work?. On key Napa-area roads, the shape of things to come may be a circle. City and state officials are moving toward replacing a set of busy intersections with a trio of roundabouts to link Highway 29 with downtown Napa. Engineers have offered another circular hub – or two – to replace a convoluted five-way junction on the east end of town. Even outside the city limits, a planned high-speed connection between Highways 29 and 221 could see a towering flyover ramp replaced by yet another pair of roundabouts.
  • Lawmakers unplug a plan to commercialize California’s electronic freeway signs. Lawmakers deadlocked this week on a bill to allow electronic freeway billboards operated by California to show commercial advertising as a way to pay for transportation improvements. However, opponents of the measure said Friday that they would not be surprised to see the proposal brought back next year.

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California Highway Headlines for May 2016

userpic=roadgeekingThis post provides links to articles I’ve seen over the past month related to California Highways. As I am finally working on an update to the California Highways pages (Memorial Day weekend), those items that have not yet been processed into the pages are shown with ♦. [Update: Didn’t finish Memorial Day weekend. I have a few more AAroads articles to go through, plus the legislature actions and the CTC minutes. It’ll be done sometime in June]

  • Why a historic highway that united California’s two halves may never reopen to cars. Harrison Scott discovered the Ridge Route in 1955. Then 18, he was out freewheeling in a brand new Ford he’d bought with a loan from his parents. The sinuous route, an engineering marvel that tamed the San Gabriel Mountains through the highway corridor that is now known as the Grapevine, was already a relic. Opened in 1915, and credited by historians with uniting the economies of Northern and Southern California, the notoriously slow and dangerous roadway had been superseded in 1933 by Highway 99, itself to be replaced in 1970 by the 5 Freeway. Scott liked the abandoned motorway, but did not return to the route until exploring it again in 1991, this time on a road trip with his son. Spurred by the boy’s interest, and retired from a long career with Pacific Telephone, Scott became an amateur historian and began collecting photos and stories of the highway.
  • It’s a mess along O.C.’s part of PCH, traffic study says. Traffic congestion and safety conflicts among vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians continue to plague traveling conditions along Orange County’s portion of Pacific Coast Highway, according to a newly published transportation study. The nearly $400,000 report, released last month and conducted by the Orange County Transportation Authority and the California Department of Transportation, examined the iconic but aging 37-mile highway from Seal Beach to San Clemente.
  • Highway 121 repairs could cost $5.5 million. Highway 121 is at least several months and $5.5 million away from once again having both lanes open north of Wooden Valley Road between Napa and Lake Berryessa. A section of the northbound lane on the narrow, two-lane road slipped a half-dozen feet during early March storms. The road reopened on March 25 with temporary signals in place to alternate traffic in the southbound lane.

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California Highway Headlines for April 2016

userpic=roadgeekingHere are the collected headlines and other identified articles of interest from April 2016 related to California Highways:

  • Roadshow: Is new Valley Fair interchange dangerous? This man’s son died there. Q I was riveted by your column about the traffic problems at Interstate 280 and I-880 near Valley Fair, and the drivers who related near-accidents. My second son, Michael Boys, was thrown from his motorcycle and killed at that interchange on Dec. 4 soon after the construction was finished. My other sons and I have visited the scene, and it appears to us as well that there are really serious problems that make this a dangerous intersection. He was exiting 280 for 880 north, and that seems the focus of the other people who wrote in.
  • After decade of planning, Hwy 80 interchange reconstruction project gets underway in San Pablo. Following a decade of planning, a $118.8 million project to improve a major Interstate Highway 80 bottleneck in San Pablo is getting underway. Elected officials and local transportation leaders gathered Friday to celebrate the beginning of reconstruction work on Highway 80’s more than 50-year-old San Pablo Dam Road interchange.
  • Lakehead’s New Antlers Bridge Gets Artsy. How about this fish story? Twenty-five-foot largemouth bass spotted at Shasta Lake. It’s not a stretch—it’s art. A design featuring two colorful concrete bass leaping at minnows is repeated four times on the new Antlers Bridge under construction on Interstate 5 about 25 miles north of Redding. If you want to catch it, look fast. There’s an eye-level view of the lunkers—one measuring 25 feet and the other stretching 16 feet—from the current Antlers Bridge spanning the lake’s Sacramento Arm at Lakehead. When traffic switches to the new bridge, which is expected to happen in late summer or fall, the I-5 blur-by will no longer be a viewing option.

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Link Chum Stew: What’s In The Pot This Week, Johnny?

Observation StewThis afternoon, I’ve been spending some time cleaning up. What’s this? A list of links? Let’s write about them before they go stale and rotten (like the plums on the dining room table):

  • Dancing Around Politics. If you’ve been around LA at all of late, you’ve probably been handed a flyer for the Shen Yun dance troupe, who have been performing at halls across the city. You’ve probably never heard of them. The LA Times had an interesting article on who they really are and who is backing them: they are a touring dance troupe founded in New York by practitioners of Falun Gong, the spiritual practice banned by the Chinese Communist Party in 1999. The party calls it a cult; Falun Gong says the Chinese government is trying to eradicate thousands of years of culture and tradition and that its repression of Shen Yun shows an intolerance of freedom of expression and religion. Indisputably, the dance company — marking its 10th anniversary — has become a cultural phenomenon. That fits with what my wife called the show: religious indoctrination.  As the article noted: “Nonetheless, it’s safe to say that the bright costumes and spinning dancers are meant to convey a message. “The Falun Gong has a very well organized, managed and elaborate program of public relations, and Shen Yun is part of that,” said James Tong, a UCLA professor, expert in Chinese politics and author of a book about the Communist Party and Falun Gong. When audiences see Shen Yun, “people want to know more about the Falun Gong.””
  • Digital Last Wills. Here’s a good reminder article from LastPass about Digital Wills. As they note in the article: “When preparing a will, many of us focus on our monetary and physical assets. But what about social media accounts? Or email addresses? Or the myriad of online accounts we use to manage our lives, every day? Making a “digital will” that includes passwords and other important digital details will go a long way in helping those who need to settle your affairs, or in helping you if you need to settle the affairs of others.” It is an important concern: I know I do my banking via Quicken… would my wife be able to easy pick that up. To inform all those whom I’m friends with online of what is happening with me? To pass off my highway pages somewhere? To handle other online financial accounts?
  • Upgrading Your Smartphone the Smart Way. Here’s an interesting article on how cell phone companies get you yet again: the upgrade fees if you buy a phone through them. With some, it is cheaper to buy your phone elsewhere, and then just bring it in and have it activated. Useful information to know.
  • Fighting Blisters. One of the scourges of walking as exercise are blisters. They are the reason I’ve switched to Injinji Toe Socks and Vibram Five Fingers. Too bad I didn’t know about this: there is evidently an easy way to combat blisters: use of surgical paper tape. I’ll have to give it a try one day, especially when the plantars fasciitis is acting up and I need shoes with padding and arch support.
  • Women in Cybersecurity. As you know, I’m part of ACSA, the sponsoring group behind SWSIS — the schoarship for women studying information security. Here’s a profile about one of our first recipients. I met Jill when she came out to ACSAC; I wish I had known this about her.
  • High Fidelity. Yesterday was Record Store day, and alas I missed it. But then again, I have enough records for this month. The iPod is at just under 38,000 songs. But here’s a good guide, for Record Store Day, about getting the right equipment to play your records. As for me, I have two turntables (Technics and Sansui), a good JVC amplifier with a phono curve, which feeds into my soundcard and the Roxio tools for recording to MP3 or WAV.
  • Free, as in Free Gigs. How would you like 2GB of free days for a month or two? Evidently, Verizon has a promotion where if you use Android Pay at three retailers, they’ll give you and extra 2GB for two months. The giveaway is part of a promotion that encourages people to start using Android Pay, which is essentially the Android version of mobile payments. Any Verizon customer with a postpaid plan who has an Android Pay-compatible phone will get 1GB of free data the next time they use Google’s mobile payment platform. Use it another two times, for a total of three separate purchases, and Verizon will throw in another gigabyte of free data.Once you’ve got the data freebie, Verizon says you’ll be able to use it across two billing cycles. The offer ends on June 14.
  • Mulholland Drive. Lastly, here’s a fascinating history article on Mulholland Drive: its origins and first plans. If you happen to be inspired to drive all of Mulholland — including the dirt portion across the top of the Santa Monicas, keep your eye out for a watch. I lost it there sometime in high school :-).

 

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California Highway Headlines for March 2016

userpic=roadgeekingMarch has been a busy busy month for me, but I have found time to accumulate some headlines. As it is lunchtime on the last day of the month, enjoy these while you munch:

  • Caltrans Removes East Span as Part of Bay Bridge Seismic Retrofit Project. The 77-year-old east span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is being taken down, piece by piece, as part of a Bay Bridge seismic retrofit project. In fact, the new bridge was designed to be a lifeline in a large quake. It will be used to transport food and emergency supplies to San Francisco or Oakland in an emergency. The new east span of the bridge opened in 2013. The self-anchored suspension bridge was built at a cost of $6.4 billion.
  • Roadshow: Highway 140 to Yosemite needs 4 more years of work. Q: If you’ve been to Yosemite during the last several years and have taken Highway 140, you’ve seen the massive landslide west of Yosemite View Lodge. The slide completely covered the highway, and Caltrans was forced to build two bridges to detour around it. There’s a sign that labels the repair work as the “Ferguson Project.” However, it doesn’t look like any work is under way. This is a heavily traveled route. Is there any projected completion date?

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California Highway Headlines for February 2016

userpic=roadgeekingFebruary… a month that brings to mind… freeway closures. I’m not talking about closures due to rain, but -maggedon closures of the 101 downtown and the 91 in Corona. But those are now past us, so what else has happened this month: (as always, the information in the linked articles will find its way onto my California Highways website).

  • Crews work to tear down major section of old Bay Bridge. Caltrans crews are working to remove a major section of the old Bay Bridge Thursday morning. Crews started working around 6 a.m. to remove the first 504-foot truss span, Caltrans officials said. The removal should take two 14 hour days, according to Caltrans officials.
  • Can bigger and brighter signs prevent wrong-way crashes on San Diego freeways?. Wrong-way drivers killed 13 people on San Diego freeways last year, a number that has prompted state officials to take measures to keep motorists going the right way. Caltrans is conducting a pilot program that calls for improved warning devices, such as bigger signs, flashing lights and sensors on offramps along Interstate 15 through much of San Diego County. Researchers will study what systems work to reduce the number of drivers who enter the freeway at those locations.
  • Engineers zero in on design for bike path on Bay Bridge western span. Transportation officials are narrowing the final designs for a bike and pedestrian path on the western span of the Bay Bridge, something bike advocates have been dreaming about for decades. But it could still be another decade before the 2.9-mile structure from Yerba Buena Island to San Francisco is funded and built, according to the Bay Area Toll Authority.

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California Highway Headlines for January 2016

userpic=roadgeekingAh, a new year. Let’s see what it has to bring in terms of highway news:

  • Transforming the end of the 2 Freeway could be the beginning of a new L.A.. Around the country, cities are demolishing stretches of highway, turning them into parks or boulevards. Los Angeles has an opportunity to do something even more dramatic: to close a piece of elevated freeway to traffic but keep it intact as a huge platform for new open space and housing. In a single gesture, the city could produce significant parkland and a monument to the ambition that produced the Southern California highway network in the first place. The stretch I have in mind is the stub end of the 2 Freeway as it bends south and west from Interstate 5 and dips into Silver Lake and Echo Park, two miles or so from downtown Los Angeles.
  • A List of Things That Spilled on SoCal Freeways in 2015. February 2: Frozen chicken, 10 Freeway. February 20: diesel fuel, 710 Freeway. …
  • Reconnected Route 66 in Cajon Pass may open soon. A part of the Interstate 15/215 interchange project that would reconnect a portion of old Route 66 in San Bernardino County, California, was slated to be finished by May. But a new report in the Victorville Daily Press indicates it will reopen early this year.

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December 2015 Updates to California Highways (The Website)

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We’re at the end of another year. I had hoped to do more frequent updates, but this little thing called life got in the way. Perhaps I’ll find more time next year. But for now, let’s look at the last four months of updates:

Before we do… an aside: People may not realize the time this takes. This round of updates took a solid three 8+ hour days, the bulk involving incorporating the headline items into the site. I need to remember to do this monthly and not let them back up. I’m also quite pleased that I was able to find more information on AAroads, but it took time to double check. For next year, a plea: If you see a news article or blog post related to a numbered state highway, please send me the link. Comment on Facebook with it, comment on the post, or even just use good ol’ email.

With that, I’ll wish everyone who likes “California Highways (The Website)” [and even those who don’t] the happiest and healthiest of new years. I don’t believe in wishing people bad things; even people who are bad you can wish to get better. My all your travels on the roads of California (or whereever you live) be safe, and remember that distracted driving can be deadly driving. Be safe when you take that picture of the roads (better yet, let your passenger take it for you). Don’t play with your cell phone while driving, and focus on the road. The life you save may just be that of another lover of the roads.

Happy New Year – 2016

Keep reading for the details of the updates. In the legislative actions, I’ve attempted to highlight the really important parts of each bill (which, of course, WordPress strips out… so you’ll need to visit the real changes page).

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