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State Route 54

Click here for a key to the symbols used. An explanation of acronyms may be found at the bottom of the page.


Routing Routing

Rte 54Route 54 is from Route 5 near the Sweetwater River to the southern city limits of El Cajon.

The relinquished former portion of Route 54 within the City of El Cajon is not a state highway and is not eligible for adoption [as a state highway].

The City of El Cajon may not impose any special restriction on the operation of buses or commercial motor vehicles on the relinquished former portion of Route 54 if that restriction is in addition to restrictions authorized under other provisions of law.

The unconstructed (and subsequently adoption rescinded portion) between Route 125 and Route 94 is San Diego County Sign Route S17.

Post 1964 Signage History Post 1964 Signage History

This route was defined in 1963 as the route from "Route 5 near Sweetwater River to Route 8 near El Cajon." This route was part of the original freeway plans for San Diego.

In 1999, SB 557, Chapter 99, July 13, 1999 permitted the California Transportation Commission to reliquish the portion of Route 54 located between the S city limits of El Cajon and Route 8. Prior to this, the definition of the route had been "From Route 5 near Sweetwater River to Route 8 near El Cajon."As of the date of relinquishment, the definition of Route 54 was defined by SB 557 to be "From Route 5 near Sweetwater River to Route 8 near the eastern city limits of the city of El Cajon." The segment was not relinquished in the CalTrans Photologs released in 2001.

In 2003, AB 1717 (Chapter 525, 9/25/2003) changed the definition to correct the relinquishment, but change "eastern city limits" to "southern city limits".

Pre 1964 Signage History Pre 1964 Signage History

Before the 1964 renumbering, this route was LRN 280 (defined in 1959). It was unsigned.

Route 54 was not defined as part of the initial state signage of routes in 1934. It is unclear what (if any) route was signed as Route 54 between 1934 and 1964.

Status Status

There also appear to be plans to convert Route 54 between I-5 and Route 125 to full freeway, with an interchange with the Route 125 tollway. Once this is complete, San Diego will have a full freeway circumferential highway (~ SD 0.000 to SD 5.971).

The SAFETEA-LU act, enacted in August 2005 as the reauthorization of TEA-21, provided the following expenditures on or near this route:

In September 2011, the CTC approved $1,619,000 to construct a median barrier on Route 54 from east of Briarwood Road to east of Sweetwater road (~ SD 4.96 to SD 5.919) and on State Route 125, from a half-mile west of Elkelton Place to Elkelton Place. The barrier is to “reduce the number and severity of collisions” in the area.

The portion of Route 54 between 0.6 mi E of Briarwood (the W junction with Route 125) and Jamacha Road (~ SD 5.929 to SD 6.7) has been incorporated into the Route 125 tollway.

Unconstruct Segment Recission (PM SD 6.7 to SD 16.9)

Unconstructed Unconstructed from Route 125 to Route 94. There is also an unconstructed freeway routing from Route 94 to Route 8 that would replace the current traversable surface routing. The existing route (Jamacha Road, County Sign Route S17) does not meet state highway standards.

SR 54 RecissionIn October 2016, the CTC approved recission of the freeway adoption between Route 125 and Route 94. The recission agenda item noted that Route 54 is comprised of two separate alignments. The first alignment comprise of two constructed, State owned and operated segments, Segments 1 and 2, and an unconstructed segment, Segment 3. Segment 1 is the 2.3 mile long section from I-5 to 0.4 mile east of I-805 and Segment 2 is the 4.4 mile long section from 0.4 mile east of I-805 to Route 125. Both Segments 1 and 2 are classified as a six-lane divided freeway. Segment 3 was never constructed and spans from Route 125 to I-8 near 3rd Street. This 10.2 mile long unconstructed portion of Route 54 is part of San Diego County Sign Route S17 with the street name of Jamacha Boulevard.

The second alignment (Segment 3SA) is a three-mile State owned and operated conventional highway (PM T11.0 to T14.2) from Route 94 to the southern city limits of El Cajon. In 1999, the State relinquished a portion (PM T14.2 to T16.3) of the second alignment, from southern city limits of the City of El Cajon to the intersection of I-8 near 2nd Street. It has been determined that construction of Segment 3 is no longer deemed necessary and has been removed from the Regional Transportation Plan. Furthermore, the Route 54 East Corridor Study, developed by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) in 2005 states: "the planned improvements in the County of San Diego and the City of El Cajon circulation elements are adequate to handle the study area traffic in the horizon year of 2030. A new expressway or freeway is not warranted.” There is no need to improve adjacent facilities, as they are adequate for handling existing and projected future traffic volumes. The portion of Route 54 to be deleted from the State Highway System is the adopted, unconstructed, freeway/expressway alignment from Route 125 to the intersection with I-8 (Segment 3). Between Route 125 and Route 94, Segment 3 is mostly parallel with the existing Jamacha Boulevard/San Diego County Sign Route S17. Segment 3 north of Route 94 is west of Jamacha Road until Washington Avenue in the City of El Cajon. From Washington Ave to I-8, Segment 3 is parallel to 3rd Avenue east of Jamacha Road. Note that the portion of existing Conventional Highway Route 54 (Jamacha Road) between Route 94 and the southern city limits of the City of El Cajon (Segment 3SA) is not proposed for deletion. However, the Department is planning to relinquish this portion of the route to the County of San Diego.

For years, the regional plan for traffic circulation in the San Diego area envisioned a system of freeway and expressways that connected with each other to form corridors and loops to provide relief to congestion and to establish alternative routes for travel between homes, jobs, shopping and other activity centers. Route 54 was intended as part of a loop bypass around downtown (reflected in its original name, the "Belt Line Freeway"). At time of adoption, Route 54 was planned as a freeway or expressway from I-5 in the South Bay to I-8 in El Cajon, forming an arc and connecting with Route 125 midway. However, the adopted and unconstructed freeway/expressway portion east of Route 125 was never built. As the years have progressed, alternative improvements to the arterial system, particularly in the County of San Diego, have been determined to be adequate for the changing nature of the land uses and projected traffic volumes in that area. In fact, the County of San Diego has widened and improved portions of Jamacha Road to serve the ultimate demand in that area. Based on the findings of SANDAG’s 2005 Route 54 East Corridor Study, affected agencies and jurisdictions concluded that no regional consensus existed for continuing to plan for the unconstructed portion Route 54 as a State highway.

The October 2014 Transportation Concept Report (TCR) recommends that the unconstructed portion of the Route 54, Segment 3, be rescinded and deleted from the State highway system. Furthermore, there is a lack of community support to construct a freeway/expressway on a new alignment by extending existing Route 54 between Route 125 and I-8. Rescission of the freeway adoption for Route 54 will allow the sale of excess lands. The unneeded right of way will make available excess land allowing for further community development, promoting economic growth and will have a positive impact for the community. If the Department retains the excess land, there will be ongoing maintenance costs, including weed abatement, public dumping, and liability concerns.

In October 2017, the CTC approved the recision the freeway route adoption for unconstructed portion of Route 54 between Route 125 and I-8 near 3rd Street (PM 6.7 to 16.9) in San Diego County. There are no local or regional studies contemplating building the unconstructed portion of Route 54 between Route 125 and I-8. The County of San Diego has deleted unconstructed expressway/freeway alignment from their GP2020 General Plan Circulation Element with the support of both Spring Valley and Valle de Oro communities. The Commission approved Resolution NIU 16-02, Notice of Intent to Unadopt, on October 19, 2016. The Department then notified all affected local and regional agencies of the intent to rescind this route. Once the route rescission is approved, the Department’s responsibility is to dispose of the excess land. The portion of existing conventional highway Route 54 along Jamacha Road, between Route 94 and the southern city limits of the City of El Cajon (Segment 3SA), is not proposed for deletion. The County of San Diego has widened and improved portions of Jamacha Road to serve the ultimate traffic demand in that area. The Department plans to relinquish this portion of the route to the County of San Diego in the future. The October 2014 Transportation Concept Report (TCR) recommends that the unconstructed portion of the Route 54, Segment 3, be rescinded and deleted from the State Highway System. Furthermore, there is a lack of community support to construct a freeway/expressway on a new alignment by extending existing Route 54 between Route 125 and I-8. Rescission of the freeway adoption for Route 54 will allow the sale of excess lands. The unneeded right of way will make available excess land allowing for further community development, promoting economic growth and will have a positive impact for the community. If the Department retains the excess land, there will be ongoing costs for maintenance, including weed abatement, public dumping, and liability concerns.

Naming Naming

The portion of this routing that is constructed to freeway standards is named the "South Bay Freeway". It was named by location. The Caltrans naming log only shows it being named from Route 805 to Route 94. This was originally to be called the "Belt Line" Freeway, and was part of the "Inner Loop" with Route 52 and Route 125.

Filipino-American HighwayThe portion of Route 54 from its westernmost point to its intersection with Route 125, in the County of San Diego, is officially named the "Filipino-American Highway". This segment was named in honor of the Filipino-American Community, which has made many contributions to California and the nation. Among the many past and present Filipino-American historical figures is Carlos Bulosan, a novelist and poet best known for the semi-autobiographical "America is in the Heart," who was active in labor politics along the Pacific coast of the United States and edited the 1952 yearbook for I.L.W.U. Local 37, a predominantly Filipino-American cannery union based in Seattle. Other Filipino-American historical figures include, Philip Veracruz, a labor leader who helped to found the United Farmworkers Union with Cesar Chavez, and Major General Edward Soriano, the only Filipino-American to have attained the rank of general in the U.S. Armed Forces. Major General Edward Soriano was born in Pangasinan and migrated to the United States with his family at an early age. In 2001, he was the director of operations, readiness, and mobilization at the office of America's Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans. In the County of San Diego, Filipino-Americans are the largest Asian Pacific Islander group, making up 4.3 percent of the population of the country, with many living in National City, Chula Vista, and Southern San Diego. Major Filipino-American groups in the County of San Diego include the Filipino American Educators Association of San Diego County, the Council of Philippine American Organizations of San Diego County, and the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of San Diego County. Named by Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) 157, Resolution Chapter 145, on 9/12/2006.
(Image source: BakItWhy)

Named Structures Named Structures

George R Volland Memorial BridgeBridges 57-0845, 57-0844, the Route 54/Route 5 interchange (SD 000.01), is named the "George R. Volland Memorial Bridge". It was named in memory of George R. Volland, who served his country with honor and distinction in the United States Navy in a career that spanned 22 years, achieving the rank of Master Chief. Sailing from ports in this state, George R. Volland journeyed to the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, the Mediterranean Sea, the Suez and Panama Canals, and untold ports of call, to ensure the security and integrity of the United States and its citizens. During all his journeys, George R. Volland always looked forward to the day when he would return to his beloved California and the 32nd Street Naval Station at San Diego, home of the Pacific Surface Fleet of the United States Navy. Over his distinguished career, which included service in World War II, and the wars in Korea and Vietnam, George R. Volland named as his home many of the port cities of this state, including Imperial Beach, National City, Chula Vista, San Diego, Long Beach, San Francisco, Richmond, Antioch, and Stockton. On June 23, 1976, George R. Volland died in the aftermath of a massive heart attack, sustained in May 1976, while attending to the junior high school and high school student victims of a terrible bus accident in Martinez, in which 17 were killed and more than 40 others were injured. It was named by Assembly Concurrent Resolution 60, Chapter 30 in 1998.
(Image source: AARoads)

Itliong-Vera Cruz Memorial BridgeThe overpass on South Woodman Street that crosses Route 54 (Bridge 57-1002, SD 004.21), also known as the Filipino American Highway, in the City of San Diego is named the "Itliong-Vera Cruz Memorial Bridge". It was named in honor of Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz. Larry Itliong was a Filipino American labor leader who founded the Filipino Farm Labor Union (FFLU) in 1956. He was also a member of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC). He was born in 1913 in the Pangasinan Province of the Philippines and immigrated to the United States in 1929. His first involvement in a labor strike was one year later in 1930. Itliong was a self-taught labor leader and was instrumental in leading protests in California and Alaska. After he founded the FFLU, Larry Itliong became the assistant director of the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (UFWOC) which eventually became the United Farm Workers (UFW). Itliong is viewed as “one of the fathers of the West Coast labor movement”. On Sept. 8, 1965, Filipino farm workers, known as manongs, organized by Itliong began the grape strike that set the stage for the boycott that would lead César Chávez and thousands of farmworker families to create the nation’s pioneering agricultural labor union, the UFW. Mexican and Filipino workers had been historically pitted against one another to suppress wages or break strikes. Yet Itliong approached César Chávez, then busy organizing the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA). For the first time, Filipino and Mexican workers became “brothers,” eventually forming one organization — the UFWOC — with Itliong as an assistant director, one of several Filipino leaders on the executive board. Larry Itliong resigned from the UFWOC in 1971 and dedicated the remainder of his life to improving the lives of retired Filipino farm workers, and to a wide variety of community and civic projects, many of which were related to the Filipino American community. He died in 1977. Philip Vera Cruz was also a Filipino American labor leader, a farm worker, and a leader and activist for the Asian American civil rights movement. He was one of the founders of the AWOC, which later merged with César Chávez’s NFWA and gave birth to the UFW. Philip Vera Cruz was a long-time vice president of the UFW. Vera Cruz was born in Ilocos Sur in the Philippines in 1904 and immigrated to the United States in 1926. Vera Cruz also worked in canneries and restaurants and attended Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, for a year. He joined the National Farm Labor Union which was affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations in the 1950’s. Along with Larry Itliong, Philip Vera Cruz convinced César Chávez and Dolores Huerta’s predominantly Mexican/Latino NFWA to join the Grape Strike and Boycott of 1965 demanding better pay and benefits. One week later César Chávez and Dolores Huerta joined the strike that eventually brought an end to the unfair wages and benefits with a 300 mile pilgrimage from Delano to Sacramento. After Philip Vera Cruz resigned from the UFW in 1977, he remained loyal to the UFW and the unionizing movement and maintained his dignity as a Filipino American supporting his community and fighting for worker’s rights. He affirmed an embodiment of internationalism and believed in serving the people instead of making profits. He died in 1994. The contributions of Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz and other Filipino American farm workers were instrumental in starting the Grape Strike and Boycott of 1965. Together the Filipino and Mexican farm laborers formed the United Farm Workers union (UFW), which would not have been as successful without this coalition of Filipino and Chicano workers coming together in unity. Named by Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 156, Resolution Chapter 145, on September 02, 2014.
(Image sources: Facebook, PeoplePill, Chopsticks Alley)

Business Routes Business Routes

There is signage for a "Business Route 54" in El Cajon. This is maintained by the city, and at least one point, uses the wrong shield (Interstate instead of State).

Commuter Lanes Commuter Lanes

HOV lanes exist from 0.7 mi N of the Woodman Street overcrossing to 0.6 mi E of the Briarwood Road overcrossing (SD 004.91 to SD 005.60). These lanes opened in August 1996, require two or more occupants, and operate weekdays between 6:00am-9:00am WB, and 3:00pm-7:00pm EB.

Freeway Freeway

[SHC 253.1] Entire route. Added to the Freeway and Expressway system in 1959.

Classified Landcaped Freeway Classified Landcaped Freeway

The following segments are designated as Classified Landscaped Freeway:

County Route Starting PM Ending PM
San Diego 54 0.00 5.53
San Diego 54 6.61 6.70

Exit Information Exit Information

Other WWW Links Other WWW Links

Statistics Statistics

Overall statistics for Route 54:

Pre-1964 Legislative Route Pre-1964 Legislative Route

The route that would become LRN 54 was first defined in the 1919 Third Bond Act as the route from near Michigan Bar to Drytown. In 1933, it was extended from [LRN 11] near Perkins to [LRN 54] near Michigan Bar. In 1935, it was codified into the highway code as

"[LRN 11] near Perkins to Drytown passing near Michigan Bar and Huot's Ranch."

In 1961, Chapter 1146 simplified the definition by changing the terminus to "[LRN 65] near Drytown" and eliminating routing language. It was signed as Route 16, and ran between US 50 (LRN 11) and Route 49 (LRN 65).


Acronyms and Explanations:


Back Arrow Route 53 Forward Arrow Route 55

© 1996-2020 Daniel P. Faigin.
Maintained by: Daniel P. Faigin <webmaster@cahighways.org>.