May 2017 Headlines About California Highways

Memorial Day. First and foremost, a thank you to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice defending our country. Their service has made it possible for me to spend a weekend working on pages about California Highways. Which I am. Which also means I need to incorporate the May Headlines, and thus need to post them first. So here goes:

  • Caltrans Proposes Safety Upgrades Along Entire SR-110 Arroyo Seco Parkway. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, May 2, about its plans to improve motorist and worker safety along the entire length of the SR-110 Arroyo Seco Parkway route from Pasadena to downtown Los Angeles. With the SR-110 Safety Enhancement Project, Caltrans proposes to install metal beam guardrails and concrete barriers, add maintenance vehicle pullouts, remove several thousand feet of curb and gutters, and apply graffiti-resistant coating at various locations along the freeway.
  • Marin carpool lane hours could expand by June. Southbound Highway 101 carpool lane hours could be extended in Marin as soon as next month in hopes of better traffic flow for commuters sharing rides and buses. The southbound Highway 101 commute between north Novato and the Civic Center is considered “very degraded,” with traffic flows at less than 45 mph between 50 and 75 percent of the time. The southbound carpool lane is limited to two or more people in a vehicle from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m.
  • Bay Bridge bike path has new $2 million ‘vista point;’ will open seven days a week starting Tuesday. Bicyclists and pedestrians seeking awe-inspiring views of the East Bay will soon be able to get their fix seven days a week. Starting Tuesday, the 2.2-mile path along the eastern span of the Bay Bridge will open during weekdays. After three years of stopping a mere 525 feet shy of Yerba Buena Island, the path was finally completed in October, but it was only accessible on weekends while Caltrans disassembled the remaining portion of the old Bay Bridge.

  • Unblinking truth: Marin metering lights still not funded. Marin needs roughly $6 million to make metering lights operational as part of a plan intended to ease vexing Highway 101 traffic. But funding for the program has gone dry in Marin. For the past five years the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Caltrans and the Transportation Authority of Marin have been discussing ramp metering as a way to unclog increasingly sluggish freeway traffic.
  • Sonoma forum to explore solutions to challenges facing SR-37. Almost the entire elected delegation of national, state and county representatives will be in Sonoma next Wednesday, May 10, to look for a solution to the most difficult transportation issue facing the North Bay: State Route 37, between Novato and Vallejo.
  • Santa Monica Approves Lincoln Boulevard Makeover Plan. On Tuesday, April 25, the Santa Monica City Council approved plans for the Lincoln Neighborhood Corridor Plan (LiNC), which aims to produce a safer streetscape for pedestrians and cyclists. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) relinquished Lincoln Boulevard to the city of Santa Monica in 2012. A resurfacing project in 2013 improved some aspects of the street through appropriate signage and modifications to right-of-way striping. More substantive work is to be completed through LiNC.
  • The 405 Project: Behind the Scenes. To prepare for this extensive design-build project, several task forces meet weekly to discuss all of the project components included in a freeway construction project. Task force members include OCTA, OC 405 Partners (a joint venture of OHL USA, Inc., Astaldi Construction Corporation, and subcontractors), Parsons Corporation (project management consultants), and Jacobs Engineering Group (construction management consultants). Other sub-consultant teams also participate as subject matter experts in various fields including roadway design, structures, and utilities.
  • SF, Oakland officials mark grand opening of Vista Point on Yerba Buena Island. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Ryan Russo, the city’s new director of transportation, rode bicycles out to meet San Francisco city officials for the grand opening of Vista Point on Yerba Buena island Tuesday morning. Schaaf and Russo, who were joined by bicycle and pedestrian advocates, left from the Bridge Yard building at 210 Burma Road in Oakland around 9:45 a.m.
  • Bay Bridge bike ride now goes halfway to SF, 7 days a week. The Bay Bridge bike path, which used to go part of the way part of the time, now goes part of the way almost all the time. It’s complicated. Everything about the eastern half of the Bay Bridge is complicated. “Great view,” said Nic Bekaert, eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich Tuesday at the new vista point at the Yerba Buena Island end of the bike path. “I’m not sure wherever this is, but it’s nice.” The 2.2-mile bike path is now open from Oakland to Yerba Buena Island seven days a week. Before that, it was open only on weekends. Before that, it was open only partway across the bridge. Before that, it wasn’t open.
  • Highway 37: Bay Area officials eye future tolls to pay for upgrades. North Bay motorists suffering through congested traffic on Highway 37 or long detours from closures of the roadway caused by flooding may wish for anything to relieve them of their misery. But does that include paying tolls? A fee-based future appears to be gaining traction with a key advisory group tasked with long-term solutions for traffic and flooding on the heavily traversed 21-mile highway from Novato to Vallejo.
  • Steps taken to restrict trucks from Route 142. The first step to restrict big rigs on Carbon Canyon Road took place Wednesday when a preliminary study on the state highway was unveiled to approximately 50 residents at the Chino Hills public works commission meeting. Transportation engineering consultant Clyde Prem said trucks are scraping the roadside and causing ten-to-20 minute traffic delays navigating the switchbacks and steep grades.
  • Jacob Dekema, who reshaped Southern California with hundreds of miles of freeway, dies at 101. Jacob Dekema, whose zeal for building freeways and vision for connecting the dots in Southern California reshaped the area’s transportation landscape, has died at the age of 101. A former Caltrans district director, Dekema’s legacy was particularly visible in San Diego County, which had but 25 miles of freeway when he arrived in 1955. By the time he retired a quarter of a century later, there were 485 miles of interstate, connecting the beach to the island and opening up Mission Valley.
  • Westbound Interstate 8 ramps at Algodones Road/State Route 186 closed through August. Caltrans said it will close westbound Interstate 8 ramps at Algodones Road/State Route 186 (SR-186) beginning Monday due to ongoing construction. Signs will be in place to alert motorists to the ramp closures and alternate routes. The closures and detours will be in place through August.
  • Another roundabout on Highway 190. Another roundabout, widening of Highway 65 south of Highway 190, and smoothing of Highway 65 from Porterville to Lindsay are all on tap this summer, as well as improvements on Highway 190 west of Poplar. Work is expected to begin this month on the second roundabout on Highway 190, said Christian Lukens, spokesman for Caltrans District 6. That roundabout will be constructed at Highway 190 and Road 152 and work on that $2.2 million project will take about four to six months and preclude improvements to the highway all the way to Highway 99.
  • Marin officials wary of extended carpool lane hours. A push from a regional agency to extend the length of time that drivers can use carpool lanes in Marin is raising concerns the well-intentioned plan could make the freeway traffic worse. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission — the Bay Area’s transportation planning agency — is seeking an expansion of carpool lane hours on southbound Highway 101 to 6:30 to 10 a.m. as a pilot project from June to December. Hours are now 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. The agency said the change would offer better traffic flow for commuters sharing rides and for Golden Gate Transit buses.
  • Planners mull concrete barrier for SR-67 curve. After hearing a presentation on 30 years’ worth of accidents on a dangerous curve of state Route 67, Ramona Community Planning Group members warmed to the idea of a centerline concrete barrier. In the 1,640 feet on SR-67 between Cloudy Moon Drive and Rockhouse Road, over the past 30 years there have been 74 accidents, 12 fatalities, 52 persons transported to the hospital, 19 major traumas, one person paralyzed, and one person burned to death, according to planning group member Dan Summers’ research. Two of those fatalities were last year.
  • ‘Orphan highway’ gets needed attention at Sonoma forum. The future of State Route 37 got a thorough examination from a panel of local, state and federal elected officials at a community forum in Sonoma Wednesday night at the Sonoma Valley Veterans Memorial Building. Several of the panelists referred to the 21-mile linkage between Novato and Vallejo as “an orphan in the state highway system,” but they were ready to discuss the issues and obstacles that confront the oft-traveled, oft-congested roadway.
  • Transportation upgrades on tap for Sonoma County. The Sonoma County Transportation Authority this week approved more than $26 million for a range of projects, including repaving roads, bicycle and pedestrian bridges and paths, and possibly a roundabout at a congested Windsor intersection. One of the largest expenditures — $3.1 million — will go toward a new bike and pedestrian path on Crocker Road Bridge, a nearly 80-year-old span that serves as a vital link between the rural east side of the Russian River and the city of Cloverdale and Highway 101.
  • Section Of Sixth Street, 110 Off-Ramp To Be Closed In Downtown For Five Months. If you’re already lamenting traffic in downtown L.A., we have more bad news for you on the horizon: a major offramp on the 110 freeway and a part of 6th Street near the L.A. Public Library will be on full closure for five months. As explained at The Source, Metro’s blog, the closures will run from June 3 to November 4. The southbound 6th Street off-ramp from the 110 Freeway will be shut down, and from there 6th Street itself will be closed between Figueroa and Hope streets.
  • Route 76 now four lanes between Interstates 5 & 15. It’s taken more than two decades of intermittent highway construction, but motorists now can drive from Interstate 5 in Oceanside all the way to Interstate 15 in Fallbrook along a four-lane split highway with a lifesaving barrier in the middle. The roughly $400 million state Route 76 improvement project has transformed the highway from a once curvy two-lane road — clogged by rush-hour traffic and occasionally scarred by head-on collisions — to a wider, straighter thoroughfare.
  • Why Isn’t There an Interstate 1?. If there were an Interstate 1, it would likely pummel its way through California’s coastal regions. To understand why, you’ll need to know a little about the clever numbering scheme that governs which interstate routes get which numbers. Each route number conceals coded information about its highway’s direction, geographic location, and function: …
  • Marin carpool time extension draws heat from North Bay legislators. A plan to expand carpool lane hours in Marin as a pilot project is drawing the ire of two North Bay legislators who are asking that it be shelved for the time being. Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, and Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, sent a letter Thursday to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Caltrans and California Highway Patrol asking for a meeting with the agencies to better understand the plan.
  • Obama Freeway in L.A. looks like it’s going to happen, despite the Obamajam jokes. A plan to name a stretch of the 134 Freeway after former President Obama moved forward this week with approval from the California State Senate. Naming L.A. freeways after living presidents is nothing new — but it sometimes comes with political blowback. And in one case, a correction.
  • $5M Awarded for Last Chance Grade Studies. The California Transportation Commission has allocated $5 million to fund the environmental and geotechnical studies needed to build an alternative route around Last Chance Grade, the long-failing portion of U.S. Highway 101 just south of Crescent City. The offices of Congressman Jared Huffman and state Sen. Mike McGuire announced the development today, the first step in what is expected to be a lengthy planning and construction process that currently has an estimated completion date of 2039.
  • Improvements to the Costa Mesa Freeway Are Coming. The Costa Mesa SR-55 Freeway is one of the most heavily congested freeways in Southern California, and OCTA in partnership with Caltrans is planning to widen it. The agencies are evaluating options for improving SR-55 in both directions between Interstate 405 and Interstate 5, through the cities of Santa Ana, Irvine and Tustin. The project is in the environmental phase, and the original Draft Environmental Document was made available to the public in November 2015. As a result of comments received during the public circulation of the Draft Environmental Document, an additional alternative was included for study – Alternative 3 Modified. Alternative 3M includes new carpool, general-purpose and auxiliary lanes in each direction.
  • The battle over completing the 710 Freeway is heating up again, with a long tunnel in the mix. Closing “the gap” of the 710 Freeway in the San Gabriel Valley is one of the ugliest and longest running transportation battles in Southern California. For years, Caltrans wanted to complete the freeway but faced heated opposition from residents. Now, there is a proposal to finish the 710 as a tunnel. That plan has also faced wide criticism.
  • Botts’ Dots, after a half-century, will disappear from freeways, highways. Botts’ Dots – the raised, rumbly markers between lanes on California’s highways and freeways – are on their way out, with Caltrans saying it will no longer maintain or install them. Named after Elbert Dysart Botts, the Caltrans engineer credited with the 1950s research that led to their creation, the dots spread across the nation as a way to stripe lanes. The dots later become known for a different benefit: The powerful feedback when driving over them that could snap awake sleepy motorists.
  • Metro Board could dash plans for a 710 freeway tunnel next week. In a blow to advocates of a 710 freeway tunnel, a Metro committee yesterday approved a motion calling on the agency’s Board of Directors to support an alternative to the project that would facilitate street improvements and better connections to public transit in the area, rather than building the multi-billion tunnel. The Metro Board’s Ad Hoc Congestion, Highways and Roads Committee approved the motion, introduced by Board Chair John Fasana, in a contentious 3-2 vote, as The Source reports. It will be considered by the full Board at its next meeting on Thursday, May 25.
  • Caltrans Hwy 174 Improvements Open House on May 24. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be holding an Open House to present information for a project that proposes to improve safety along state Route 174 in Nevada County from Maple Way to Your Bet Road. the project would include realigning curves, widening shoulders, adding a left-turn lane at Greenhorn Access Road and improving the Clear Recovery Zone (CRZ) on State Route 174 from post mile 2.7 to post mile 4.6 in Nevada County.
  • Deaths of two Bakersfield men and three other people in recent auto accidents on Highway 46 spark calls for safety. School is almost out and the lure of California’s Central Coast with its beaches, restaurants, quaint villages, wineries and hiking trails will draw many Kern County families west along Highway 46. More than a decade of efforts to widen the critical valley-coast link paid off in 2009 when construction started.
  • Editorial Pull the plug on the 710 tunnel . There have been many death knells for the 710 Freeway extension to Pasadena over the decades. The proposal to “close the gap” — by building the final 4.5-mile stretch to connect the 710 to Interstate 210 — has been part of a state master plan since the 1950s, but has been stymied repeatedly by neighborhood opposition and lack of funds. Still, 710 devotees have always managed to revive the project, most recently as a $5.6-billion tunnel proposal. But now, an important long-standing supporter of the 710 extension — Duarte City Councilman and Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board Chairman John Fasana — has decided the tunnel has no future. Let’s hope he’s right, and that the project is really, truly dead.
  • Highway 37 — going nowhere?. Six elected officials and two government staffers couldn’t put Highway 37 together again. The panel re-hashed the problems of traffic and flooding, touched on privatization and public-private partnerships, responded in brief to a few public questions, and wrapped it up without moving anything along.
  • ‘President Barack H. Obama Freeway’ en route to California. Soon Southern California drivers could be cruising along the “President Barack H. Obama Freeway.” A resolution passed by the state Senate this week would name a roughly four-mile stretch of Highway 134 in Eagle Rock and Pasadena after the 44th president, waiving the usual practice that honorees be deceased before the highway designation is bestowed.
  • Bay Bridge bird colony settles in on new span. It took millions of dollars, the use of decoys, bird-call recordings and dried-out holiday wreaths — and a limitless amount of patience. But the Bay Bridge’s recalcitrant double-crested cormorants have finally moved to their new home on the sides of the bridge’s new east span. It’s just as Caltrans and wildlife biologists had planned — or hoped.
  • The epic and ugly battle over what to do about the 710 Freeway. Few Southern California transportation projects have a longer or more tortured legacy than the 710 Freeway. Since the 1960s, the debate over whether to close a 4.5-mile gap in Los Angeles County’s freeway network has raged between preservation advocates in South Pasadena and cities in the San Gabriel Valley, where the 710’s abrupt terminus sends freight traffic spilling onto local streets.
  • California’s Daunting Plan to Clean Up the Big Sur Landslide—And Stop the Next One. Last week, experts with California’s state transportation department, Caltrans, looked up at a looming stretch of earth in Big Sur and thought, “Uh-oh.” The land around a stretch of Highway 1, which winds along the dramatic Pacific Coast, was moving. A lot. The officials immediately barred locals from the area and pulled out the workers and equipment working to prevent a landslide. Just in time.
  • Metro board squashes 710 freeway tunnel. The Metro Board of Directors closed out another chapter in the long saga of the never-finished 710 freeway Thursday, nixing a plan to extend the route north via an underground tunnel. In a unanimous vote, the board approved a motion submitted last week by chairman John Fasana calling on the agency to pursue an alternative to the tunnel that focuses instead on smaller infrastructure improvements in the area.
  • Metro Board supports local road improvements to help remedy 710 gap traffic. Text of Motion
  • Landslide leaves engineers to ponder options for Highway 1. The massive landslide that swallowed a stretch of Highway 1 on the Big Sur coast over the weekend was still spewing rock and dirt down a remote mountainside Thursday, and state officials say it will probably be next year before they get the wall of mud out of the way. The continued movement of the quarter-mile-long slide near the Monterey County community of Gorda has kept Caltrans engineers from taking stock of the situation and figuring out when — and if — the section of road that serves as the southern gateway to Big Sur can be repaired and re-opened.
  • More than 1 million tons of rock and dirt have to be moved off Highway 1. But how?. Geologists and engineers crowded a conference room in San Luis Obispo on Wednesday to address the latest assault upon California’s most revered roadway. Yet another stretch of Highway 1, that improbable serpentine hemming the continent’s western edge, had abruptly disappeared. No one in the room was shocked or surprised. The scientists and builders knew what they were up against.
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