🛣 Headlines about California Highways for May 2020

Yet another month has passed. Yet another month of working from home. I never would have thought that I would miss commuting on the 405, but I do. I’m still doing what I was doing when this mess started: recording more of my Uncle’s Blues and Folk LPs to MP3 for my iPod, and working on the highway pages (although this time, it is going through the May 2020 SHOPP, not a full update).

As for the headlines, I’m still collecting them, although there seem to be fewer of them. Here’s what I’ve gathered for May, but before I say “ready, set, …”, one last thing. Look at my highway pages. I’m still missing pictures of name signs, and of the people that were named. If you can help supply either of those, please send them along.

And now… ready, set, discuss.

[💰 Paywalls and 🚫 other annoying restrictions: LAT/LA Times; SJMN/Mercury News; OCR/Orange County Register; VSG/Visalia Sun Gazette; RDI/Ridgecrest Daily Independent; PE/Press Enterprise; TDT/Tahoe Daily Tribune; SFC/San Francisco Chronicle; MODBEE/Modesto Bee; SACBEE/Sacramento Bee; NVR/Napa Valley Register]

  • SR 210 Lane Addition and Base Line Interchange Construction Alert – Week of May 4. Crews are taking advantage of reduced traffic volumes and maximizing project efficiency by beginning some closures earlier in the evening and reopening later in the morning.  Please note that during bridge demolition, city streets may be closed to traffic overnight, underneath SR 210. Detour signs will be posted in advance to direct motorists around the work areas.  Please be advised, this work may be loud and disruptive due to concrete demolition activity, lighting within the work area, flashing lights on equipment, back-up alarms, and related equipment noise.
  • 💰/SJMN S.F.: Hwy. 101 lanes open after Alemany deck replacement finishes. Caltrans crews taking advantage of light traffic during COVID-19 shelter orders have completed work earlier than scheduled on the U.S. Highway 101 Alemany Deck replacement project. All lanes on the freeway opened at 4:20 a.m. Saturday, and both directions on Alemany Boulevard eastbound reopened at midnight, according to Caltrans.
  • California coronavirus stay-home order cuts traffic, gas tax. California’s stay-at-home order could mean a loss of $370 million in funds that help pay for highway construction and maintenance as well as aid for transit, a new study from UC Davis’ Road Ecology Center reported Friday. Researchers found that vehicle miles driven have plunged more than 75 percent in the state since the coronavirus outbreak shut down much of California in mid-March.
  • ‘Pavement Preservation Project’ on State Route 3 in Trinity County Starts Tomorrow. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans District 2), in conjunction with Tullis Inc., is getting ready to begin the Rush Creek and Trinity Center Overlay Project on State Route 3 in Trinity County. The $3.2 million pavement preservation project will provide a hot mix asphalt overlay and replacement of asphalt concrete surfacing at two locations:
  • Covid-19 Spurs a Road Repair Boom—and Threatens a Bust. Until a few weeks ago, the California Department of Transportation was girding itself for a summer disaster. Come July, it was planning to shut down a congested stretch of Highway 101 between San Francisco and Silicon Valley for nearly three weeks to tear out and rebuild an aging, cracking bridge deck that carries the freeway over San Francisco’s Alemany Circle. It anticipated 6-mile-long backups and hour-long delays—and that’s if it could persuade one-third of drivers to skip the trip or at least avoid rush hour. Then, in early March, Covid-19 hit the United States. California issued a shelter-in-place order. And while most residents stayed home, the state’s Department of Transportation went to work.
  • SR 60 Swarm Pavement Rehabilitation Project Continues. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) continues work on the Pavement Rehabilitation Project on State Route 60 (SR-60), part of the 60 Swarm, to repair deteriorated pavement slabs.  The two right lanes on eastbound SR-60 from Archibald Avenue to Interstate 15 (I-15) will remain closed until the end of June to allow for accelerated pavement work. The closure will be monitored for traffic impacts and based on traffic volumes.
  • CTC: Active Transportation Program Application Deadlines Delayed, More Actions. At yesterday’s California Transportation Commission meeting, most of the agenda items focused on COVID-19 impacts on transportation, transportation funding, and responses from state agencies. Staff recommended delaying deadlines for several S.B. 1 programs to give cities time more time to apply for grants.
  • Supervisors to Consider Eminent Domain Action in Midtown Connector Project. The Madera County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing this week to consider an eminent domain action against an Oakhurst business owner in order to keep moving forward with the Oakhurst Midtown Connector project, which will create a new road linking the area near Yosemite High directly to Highway 41.
  • Five 101 Closures at Last Chance Grade Coming in May. Caltrans will be fully shutting down U.S. Highway 101 at Last Chance Grade overnight five times in May to conduct roadwork needed to stabilize the notorious stretch of road in Del Norte County. According to a Facebook post, the closures on May 11, 12 and 13 will take place from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. On May 14 and May 15, the shutdowns are planned for 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. and from 1:30 a.m. to 6 a.m.
  • 💰/SFC Report: State could lose $1.3 billion in gas tax revenue during coronavirus shutdown. California may lose $1.3 billion in gas tax revenue during the coronavirus shelter-in-place period, a side effect of the decline in driving, according to a scientist at UC Davis. The numbers appear in a new report from the university’s Road Ecology Center, which shows that drivers consumed 85.8 million gallons of gas during the second week of April, a steep drop from the 349 million gallons pumped in the first week of March.
  • Full Closure of US Route 395 at State Route 58 (Kramer Junction) for 5 days.  The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) in partnership with Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad, will be closing US Route 395 (US-395) at Kramer Junction for five days to allow BNSF workers to replace concrete panels, rails and re-ballast the tracks crossing US-395 immediately north of the intersection of State Route 58 (SR-58). The railroad work is a portion of the completion work for the Kramer Junction project which began in late 2017 to realign Old State Route 58 to the new expressway east and west of “Four Corners” in San Bernardino County.
  • Caltrans Highway 74 Raised Median Safety Project continues between Valle Vista and the I-215. Caltrans subcontractors are continuing their work on the state Route 74 Raised Median Safety Project constructing medians from Ramona Expressway in Valle Vista to Interstate 215 in Menifee. The two projects, totaling $33 million, began 2019 with contractors Autobahn Construction from the city of Orange and Granite Construction Company. Autobahn’s work on the $13.1 million safety in Hemet and Valle Vista continues on the raised curb median with access just west of Acacia Avenue to Ramona Expressway.
  • Detour Ahead: Imperial Ave. Interchange Work Starting. Road construction has already begun on the Interstate 8/Imperial Avenue interchange in El Centro and the effects of that work were already being felt by motorists, explained an official with Imperial County Transportation Commission. “The construction started on May 5 but Caltrans already installed barriers on the north side of I-8 alongside the road,” said Mark Baza, executive director of ICTC. “The California Highway Patrol will be out there monitoring the situation and speeds will be reduced to 60 miles per hour in the vicinity of the area.”
  • 💰/SFC Speedy contractor finishes SF freeway project early, pockets $8 million. Renowned contractor C.C. Myers, of MacArthur Maze repair fame, has done it again — this time making millions for delivering the Alemany overpass rebuild ahead of schedule.  Myers, now doing business as Myers & Sons, was the prime contractor on the just-completed $37 million rebuild of the Alemany Boulevard overpass on Highway 101 in San Francisco.
  • Petaluma infrastructure work fasttracked in shutdown. Several big public works projects have progressed in the Petaluma area despite the coronavirus shutdown. In some cases, work has even sped up as crews take advantage of fewer cars on the roads during the shelter in place order. Most public works functions, including road work, keeping water and sewer pipes flowing and operating transit systems, were deemed essential in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order and allowed to continue with workers taking extra safety precautions.
  • CTC Approves SHOPP, Including Funding Specifically for Complete Streets. The California Transportation Commission today adopted the 2020 State Highway Operations and Protection Program. The $20 billion program will include a $100 million set-aside for Complete Streets elements on existing SHOPP projects. This is a major change in how SHOPP projects are usually funded. In addition to the unusual “reservation” for complete streets, this is the first SHOPP that is “entirely driven by performance measures,” according to Caltrans staff. The projects in it must be consistent with state plans that outline priorities for funding, including the Asset Management Plan, the Highway System Management Plan, district performance plans, and annual performance benchmarks for meeting state goals on a variety of measures.
  • Worker Safety Project to Begin on State Routes 3 and 299 in Trinity County on June 1st. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans District 2), in conjunction with Tullis Inc., is preparing to start work on the Trinity Worker Safety Project on State Routes 3 and 299 in Trinity County. The $2.3 million project is making worker safety improvements at 12 locations along these two routes. Work planned for the project includes:
  • Interchange planning still ongoing. The last time the Ceres City Council took action on advancing the Mitchell/Service Highway 99 interchange was one year ago. Where is the project today? In a nutshell, still in the planning stages. But news of the state’s prediction of a $54 billion budget shortfall for the 2020-21 fiscal year has officials worrying about the prospects for funding.
  • (UPDATED) The Planning Commission Approved a $1.5M Trail Through Manila, But Critics Say They May Appeal. The tiny community of Manila, which lies scattered across the Samoa Peninsula between coastal sand dunes and the shores of Humboldt Bay, gets sliced right down the middle by State Route 255. There’s a 55-miles-per-hour speed limit on this straightaway, which is also known as New Navy Base Road, but speeding is so common that locals often post handmade signs urging people to slow down.
  • Caltrans, SANDAG enter next stage of I-5 construction. Caltrans and San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) Build North Coast Corridor (NCC) crews have entered the next stage of Interstate 5 (I-5) construction. Last week, crews began shifting construction operations from the I-5 median to the outside shoulders in both north and southbound directions between Birmingham Drive in the City of Encinitas and Palomar Airport Road in the City of Carlsbad.
  • Funds approved to fix state route 116/121 intersection in Sonoma. The California Transportation Commission met on May 13, 2020, and approved the State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP) for 2020. This is the first-ever SHOPP that is entirely based on performance and focused outcomes. Included in the 2020 program is funding in the amount of $19M to complete improvements at theintersection of Highways 116 and 121 southwest of the City of Sonoma. The money will become available in 2022. Measure M, the ¼-cent sales tax for transportation, was used to leverage the state dollars in order to fully fund the improvements. Measure M is contributing $5M.
  • Solutions Developed to Improve Beach Boulevard Travel. Following the completion of a study by OCTA and Caltrans, cities along Beach Boulevard between La Habra and Huntington Beach will have fresh ideas to guide local planning initiatives regarding improvements to transit service, sidewalks, crosswalks and traffic signals.
  • Hwy 50 Y to Trout Creek. Striping and some punch-list items are all that remain on the Highway 50 Y to Trout Creek Project in the @City of South Lake Tahoe. This important water-quality improvement project also replaced sidewalks, increased the width of the highway for bike lanes and repaved the roadway. Work will be finished this summer! Learn more: http://tahoeroads.com/
  • 💰/SJMN Toll takers will temporarily return on Bay Area bridges. Q: The no-cash toll collection on Bay Area bridges seems to be working well.  Why don’t they make that permanent? They were planning on doing that some time, anyway.
  • New lane striping ahead for I-880 express lanes, fall opening draws closer. Work crews as early as next week will begin striping new lane configurations on Interstate 880 in Alameda County as the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and Caltrans gear up for the fall 2020 opening of new Express Lanes between Oakland and the Santa Clara County line. The five-week project will result in significant changes for drivers in the I-880 corridor. These will include the addition of double white lines (which cannot be lawfully crossed) in several segments, dashed lines in others, and the creation of new merge lanes in select locations.
  • $19M for Schellville roundabout. A long-awaited solution to traffic snarls in the Sonoma Valley is slowly coming closer to repair in the form of a roundabout where Arnold Drive and Highway 121 meet in Schellville. A $19 million grant to help see the project through was announced this week by state transportation officials.
  • SR-55 Improvements Will Relieve Congestion in Irvine, Santa Ana & Tustin. Expected to break ground in 2021, the SR-55 Improvement Project will reduce travel times between I-405 and I-5 through one of the most highly congested stretches of freeway in the county. Funded by OC Go (also known as Measure M), the $411 million project is expected to be completed in 2024 and will add one regular lane and one carpool lane in each direction of SR-55 through the cities of Irvine, Santa Ana and Tustin, along with auxiliary lanes between interchanges.
  • Granite Selected for Construction Manager/General Contractor Cosumnes Bridge Child Project 4 Project in California. Granite (NYSE:GVA) announced today that it has been awarded the Child Project 4 (CP4) portion of the Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) contract of the Cosumnes Bridge Replacement Project by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) in Sacramento County, California. This CM/GC contract is part of a phased delivery of the overall $158 million project. The $16 million project contract is included in Granite’s second quarter 2020 backlog.
  • Caltrans starts drainage system restoration project on State Route 36W. Caltrans District 2, in conjunction with Wylatti Resource Management Inc., has begun work on the Red Bluff Drainage Project on State Route 36W in western Tehama County. The $2 million project, which is funded in part by Senate Bill 1, is making drainage system improvements at 26 locations on SR 36W from about 1.5 miles east of the Shasta and Tehama counties line to about 3 miles west of Baker Road, according to a release issued by Caltrans.
  • Metro releases Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental assessment for I-105 ExpressLanes project. The Draft Environmental Impact Report/ Environmental Assessment (EIR/EA), Project Report, Concept of Operations, and Traffic and Revenue Study for the I-105 ExpressLanes Project will be available for public review and comment on the project website beginning Friday, May 22, 2020, through Monday, July 6, 2020. The supporting Draft EIR/EA and Project Report technical studies as well as printed copies of the aforementioned reports are available upon request.
  • 🚫/TDT Caltrans completes work on US 50 in South Lake Tahoe. Traffic-interfering work is complete on a water quality and roadway improvement project on U.S. Highway 50 in South Lake Tahoe, Caltrans announced Thursday. This $52.9 million project from the “Y” intersection at State Route 89 to the Trout Creek Bridge constructed new drainage systems to treat stormwater runoff before it enters Lake Tahoe and adjacent water bodies that discharge into the lake. The project also rebuilt the curbs, gutters and sidewalks on both sides of this 2-mile section of Highway 50 (Lake Tahoe Boulevard) and increased the road width to provide for Class II bike lanes.

Gribblenation Blog (Tom Fearer)

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🌿 What Have You Been Doing This Memorial Day Weekend?

Me? I’ve been planting. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been digging up a few patches in the front and back yard, ordering supplies (not all of which have arrived yet), proving why I shouldn’t work outside by injuring my wrist, and preparing for planting.

So this weekend was planting seeds. Click on any of the images for the full size.

Garden - Main Backyard Patch

This is the main back patch, approx 20′ x 7.5′. In it I planted two types of tomatoes, two types of corn, two types of cucumbers, and two types of pole beans, as well as some sunflowers. That was planted Friday and Saturday. This patch gets mixed shade and sun. Remember we’re in the valley, so it is also hot — it will be in the 90s and 100s in the summer.

Garden - Front Plot

This is the front patch. It is two rectangles: one 8′ x 9′; the other 15′ x 5′. It has chocolate cherry tomatoes, golden zucchini, (one existing strawberry plant), green zucchini (as soon as the seeds arrive), cantalope, basil, and cilantro, as well as mammoth sunflowers along the back. This gets lots of full sun.

Garden - North Planters

I also planted two bunches of pots on Sunday. The three pots here have Thyme, Basil, and Watercress (the Lavender and Artichokes plans were already there — we’ve harvested about 30 artichokes this spring, and there are perhaps 1-2 left).

Garden - Southern Pots

The second bunch of pots have cilantro and parsley

Lastly, this morning I planted the side patch:

Garden - Side Patch

This is a smaller patch, roughly 9′ x 2′. It has Cabbage, Mustard Spinach, Beets, and Radish, as it tends to get a lot of shade.

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🛣 Updates to the California Highways Web Page – Nov 19 – May 20

Ah, a new year and what a year it is start out to be. Let’s start with the good: As I was starting on these updates at the end of February 2020, I was out in Madison WI visiting my daughter, walking hither and yon. The end of March 2020 also marks 20 years for the domain cahighways.org, and (if you read through to the bottom of the page), almost 25 years for the posting of highway information on Usenet, or from this sites former home on Pacificnet (which is now long gone). Twenty years. In internet time, that’s like … well, forever.

But 2020 will be memorable for much more than 20 years of California Highways. It will be memorable for another “C”: Coronavirus. Much of my weekdays in March and April have been spent working from home, and my weekends on doing these highway page updates and recording LPs to MP3. That’s because everything else has gone away: going out to theatre; roadtrips and eating out along the road. This is a temporary new normal. But at least I have these pages to keep me busy on the weekends.

Somethings don’t change. Things that were on the horizon in 2019 are still on the horizon. In other words, I’m still trying to figure out how I want the site update to look (although I’m getting closer on the ideas). I do know that we’ll be going to one page per highway, and that I’ll have a translation page so that old links don’t get broken (the Javascript is already written). On the editor front, I am transitioning to BlueGriffon, as it supports the HTML5 tags that I think might be useful for the site in the future (in particular, the <NAV> tag, which may be the basis of future overall site navigation). I think the compatibility problem with the other editor I use (Amaya) was the <!DOCTYPE> tag, where a missing or HTML4 tag caused Amaya to flag valid HTML as invalid thanks to SGML enforcement. We shall see. BlueGriffon’s advantage over Amaya is that it is still maintained; however, I may have to pay to enable some features (should not be a big deal).

I’m also starting to enter the modern era, as of a decade ago, by starting a stylesheet. Progress is also continuing on the project to add memorial images and information to naming information. A side benefit of this will be a bit more standardization of the structure of the individual highway pages. In the future, as part of the move to single pages for each highway, I will use the standardized structure to generate a hyperlinked table of contents to make it easier get to portions of a route. For this conversion process (memorial images, stylesheet standardization), as of when I post this, I’m currently on Route 280.

  • Note the First: The non-individual highway pages haven’t been converted yet. If you see odd spacing in lists, this is likely why.
  • Note the Second: I’m still looking for pictures of name signs (i.e., signs with the names in the naming sections), and for pictures of some of the people. If you have them, please send me the images or pointers to where I can find the images. This is particularly important for the older names, the seemingly generic place names. For example, if we say that I-215 is called the Riverside Freeway, I want to find a sign that explicitly says “Riverside Freeway” (not just a destination of Riverside). It can be a sign pointing to an on-ramp; a sign on an intersecting freeway, or the freestanding signs that used to be on route segments. But it must have the full name. Surprisingly, for all the picture sites out there, few do a good job of capturing the naming signs. Consider it a challenge. You can mail them to webmaster@cahighways.org.

The Caltrans website rework is still creating problems. Many typical resources and pages are still not available and are still pending remediation. My offer still stands to Caltrans: I will be glad to host any unremediated information — or will find someone to do so if the information doesn’t fit in this site — pending remediation and rehosting on the Caltrans website. I am already hosting the Bridge Logs on my my Caltrans Resources page.

Moving on to the updates, starting with headlines, emailed items, and AAroads forum 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 Tom Fearer(2), Michael McThrow(3), Scott Parker(4), Don Williams(5), and  Joel Windmiller(6): Route 1(1,2), Route 2(2,4), Route 4(2,4), I-5(1,2), LRN 8(1), I-8(1), I-10(1,2), Route 11(1), Route 12(2,4), Route 14(1), Route 17(2,4), Route 20(1), Route 25(1,2), Route 29(1), Route 30(2), Route 36(1), Route 37(1,2), US 40(2), Route 42(1), Route 46(1), Route 48(1,2), US 50(1), Route 52(2), Route 58(1), Route 60(1), Route 63(1), Route 64(2), Route 65(2,3), Route 71(5), I-80(1,2), Route 84(1,4), Route 86(2), Route 89(1,2), Route 91(1), Route 92(1), Route 93(2), Route 96(2), Route 99(1,2,4,6), Route 100(2,4), US 101(1,2,4), Route 111(1,2), Route 116(2,4), Route 118(2,4), Route 122(2), Route 125(1), Route 126(5), Route 132(1), Route 146(2), Route 154(1), Route 156(1), Route 157(2), Route 162(1), Route 171(2), Route 180(1,2), Route 181(2), Route 183(1), Route 192(1), Route 196(2), US 199(2), Route 210(1,2,4), Route 211(2), Route 220(1), Route 239(4), Route 241(1), Route 249(2), Route 251(2), Route 252(2), Route 256(3), Route 281(2), US 395(1), I-405(1), US 466(2), I-580(1), I-880(1), I-905(1), County Sign Route J22(2), County Sign Route J29(2), County Sign Route J35(2), County Sign Route J132(2).

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🛣 Headlines About California Highways for April 2020

Yup, I haven’t written on my blog for most of April. April has been a strange month, to say the least. You would think being “safer at home” — and having no theatre to go to — would give me more time, but I’ve been really busy. I’ve been working from home full time, and also working on a big update to the highway pages covering December through April, including reviewing all the headlines, going through the legislative stuff, going through the CTC stuff (including the 2020 STIP), and adding more memorial information. You can look for it to drop in a week or two, after I go through these headlines.

As I’ve been collecting them, my impression has been that there has been less news and more quiet work. Most of the articles I’ve been seeing have been on the impact of COVID-19 on transit systems, and how it has lightened traffic (which are not collectable headlines for this list). Certainly, CTC and transit organization meetings have gone virtual, and the legislature has been on medical recess. But there has still been news, and folks like Tom have been keeping busy. Which, of course, means I’m keeping busy as well, going through them.

One last note: You saw my mention about the memorial information. I’m looking in particular for pictures of highway name signs (i.e., if a highway is named something, a picture showing that particular name on a sign — not just as a destination city), and in some cases, pictures of the people named. When I do upload the updates, look at the updated pages to see if you might have any photos to go with my missing information.

Now, as always… ready, set, discuss.

[💰 Paywalls and 🚫 other annoying restrictions: LAT/LA Times; SJMN/Mercury News; OCR/Orange County Register; VSG/Visalia Sun Gazette; RDI/Ridgecrest Daily Independent; PE/Press Enterprise; TDT/Tahoe Daily Tribune; SFC/San Francisco Chronicle; MODBEE/Modesto Bee; SACBEE/Sacramento Bee; NVR/Napa Valley Register]

  • Sterling Awarded $20.3 Million Project by CalTrans. Sterling Construction Company, Inc. (NasdaqGS: STRL) (“Sterling” or “the Company”) today announced that its subsidiary, Myers & Sons Construction, LLC (“Myers”) was selected by the California Department of Transportation (“CalTrans”) for a bridge project in San Francisco. The $20.3 million project entails replacing bridge decks, concrete barriers, and railings, along with installation of carbon fiber wrap around the existing bridge columns at the Alemany Circle Undercrossing. The job is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.
  • OLANCHA-CARTAGO 4-LANE PROJECT UPDATE. Caltrans is in the final stages of design and right-of-way acquisition for the Olancha-Cartago 4-Lane project. The project will upgrade 12.6 miles of the current two-lane highway to a four-lane access-controlled expressway. The new alignment will begin four miles south of Olancha to four miles north of Cartago and will close the gap between the existing four-lane sections to the north and the south.
  • COVID-19 Lessons for Congestion Pricing – The Eno Center for Transportation. Travel within major U.S. metropolitan areas has all but stopped with at least 20 percent of the population under virtual lockdown. Various anecdotes and new analyses show that with so little movement, once-ubiquitous traffic congestion is all but eliminated. It may thus seem like the wrong time for cities and regions to continue to pursue congestion pricing strategies. Prior to the current public health crisis, serious proposals and studies were underway in places like San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC. New York is set to roll out the first congestion pricing program in the U.S. next year. Decongesting Manhattan is the primary goal with the revenue being allocated toward the beleaguered Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in the anticipation that better service will attract more riders. We know traffic will come back to New York post-coronavirus, especially if commuters adopt new fears of shared transportation modes. Possible shifts toward driving would only compound the beating transit agencies are taking during the shutdown due to lost revenues.
  • 💰/SJMN Crews pick up the pace on Bay Area express lane projects. Q: Interstate 880 through Hayward. Potholes galore and bumps. Why can’t they repave the freeway while there are very few cars on the road? … Also, Highway 101 has a lot of potholes. … Is Caltrans speeding up any construction now that they could close down a lane or two with little effect all day, compared to a previously normal time? … Are there projects that could be accelerated to take advantage of the light traffic during the COVID-19 shutdown, like Highway 101 at Alemany Circle?
  • Cranes Key to Giving Ventura Freeway Its New Look. The California Department of Transportation’s (Caltrans) $55 million Interstate 5 High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV, or carpool) lane project between State Route 134 (the Ventura Freeway) and Magnolia Boulevard is expected to be substantially completed this Spring. “This is one of several projects that make up Caltrans’ ongoing $1.3 billion I-5 North improvements on I-5 (the Golden State Freeway) between SR-134 and State Route 118,” said Michael Comeaux, public information officer, Caltrans — District 7. “This project is widening I-5 to add 2.7 miles of HOV lanes in each direction in Glendale and Burbank, where I-5 had four lanes in each direction at the outset of the project. Upon completion, I-5 will have one HOV lane plus four regular freeway lanes in each direction.”
  • Northbound 101 near Orcutt project to begin Monday. The northbound US Highway 101 on and off ramps will undergo roadwork to accommodate a new signalized intersection at Clark Avenue near Orcutt beginning Monday, April 6.
  • 💰/NVR Napa creates $500 million long-range transportation list. A 30-year, more than $500 million Napa County transportation list with 77 projects is a road map to the area’s roads of the future, as well as its bike paths and transit service. The Napa Valley Transportation Authority (NVTA) has honed a list detailing how to spend anticipated federal, state, regional and local transportation revenues through 2050. Projects range from major Highway 29 improvements to an Oxbow Preserve pedestrian bridge in the city of Napa.

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🗯️ Choosing Between Who You Have, Not Who You Wanted

Reading through my FB feed (the FB curated one), I see lots of posts from Bernie supporters who are pissed at his suspending his campaign, and who are pissed at Biden for who he is and who he isn’t. In their anger, I see them talking about voting third party or not voting at all.

Take your time and mourn the loss of your favorite candidate. We all have. We each had our favs, and except for a small number that were Biden supporters since Day 1, they are gone. But then think about this.

  1. By the time you reach a general election, the choice is rarely between who you want, but who you have. Every candidate will have flaws, and the choice boils down to not who is the best candidate, but who, amongst the candidates you have, is marginally better.
  2. I see a number of folks who are upset about Tara Reade’s claim of sexual assault against Joe Biden in 1993 and Biden’s failure to acknowledge it. For this reason, they say they will not vote or will vote third party. But you won’t find perfection, especially in politicians of Biden’s age who grew up before sexual harrassment was a term. Instead, look for patters. Biden has ONE claim, from over 20 years ago. Trump has more claims than you can shake a stick at, many of which are relatively current. Biden did something wrong once, and has not reoffended. Trump has a continual pattern of offense. So between those two choices, who has the better history?
  3. I see a number of folks who are upset at Biden’s position on M4A. But have you read that position? He’s not against M4A, per se, but he is against two things: (1) The cost of the proposals that are out there, and (2) the timing of the proposals that are out there. If a proposal got to his desk that actually covered the costs in a reasonable manner, he would likely sign it. But none of the proposals out there have done that, and unlike the current administration, he is concerned about the national debt and how we will pay for things. But more importantly, he wants healthcare coverage for people NOW. Instituting M4A will take years, and given Congress, won’t provide coverage for everyone until 5-10 years down the road. On the other hand, he can tweak Obamacare to provide a Medicare option for all who want it quickly, and he can get that through Congress. If people vote with their pocketbooks and choose Medicare, there is essentially Medicare for all, and if they do that, it is easier to convince Congress that the other options are not necessary. Think about things; don’t just circulate memes.
  4. The election is about so much more than Joe Biden, the man. It is about the administration that comes with them. Think about a Biden administration vs. a Trump administration. Who would be appointed to head the Federal agencies under each administration? Who will be appointed to judgeships and the Supreme Court? Who will listen to science? Who will listen to the experts, vs. the sound of their own voice? Who has the ability to work with Congress to get the bills needed to be passed passed?
  5. I’ve seen complaints that Biden is bland, and my answer is… so? We’ve had four years of a President who is far from bland, who believes everything must revolve around him, and who has us lurching and reeling from the craziness. Perhaps a bland respite for four years is what this country needs to regain its bearing. Get us back to normal, let Biden groom a VP that can do the real work of moving us forward. Think of Biden as that Interim President who will help the country heal from the Trump years (and yes, confront the changed reality due to Coronavirus). We can use that healing.
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🛣 Headlines About California Highways for March 2020

Well, March certainly didn’t come in like a lion and leave like a lamb, did it? It came in like a lion, and left like a pride of angry, socially isolating, pissed off lions chafing at captivity.

For me, March started in Madison Wisconsin, and ended with me working from home, hardly out on the roads at all. But I’m luckier than so many others. I wish all who read this continued good health, and may we come through this stronger and with a desire to explore more of the highways of the great state of California. PS: I am working on a highway page update, but it is slow going. It will be done sometime in April.

As for the highway headlines: there are a lot fewer of them this month. Something else has crowded the highway news off the road (and the highway workers as well). But these headlines are (hopefully) a zone free of that contagion.

Here are your headlines about California’s Highways for March. As always, ready, set, discuss.

[💰 Paywalls and 🚫 other annoying restrictions: LAT/LA Times; SJMN/Mercury News; OCR/Orange County Register; VSG/Visalia Sun Gazette; RDI/Ridgecrest Daily Independent; PE/Press Enterprise; TDT/Tahoe Daily Tribune; SFC/San Francisco Chronicle; MODBEE/Modesto Bee; SACBEE/Sacramento Bee; NVR/Napa Valley Register]

  • 💰/LAT Along a scenic highway, a road map of California’s hopes and anxieties. For nearly 300 miles along dramatic curves and desolate straightaways, State Route 33 passes seamlessly through California’s interior, exposing the attitudes and interests that divide it. A drive from the beaches of Ventura to the outskirts of Stockton, from Democratic strongholds into Trump country and back, reveals befuddlement over the state of politics in America. There’s a common desire to come together, but no agreement on how to get there.
  • Critics argue Gov. Newsom is diverting gas tax money to projects voters did not approve of. Gov. Gavin Newsom is coming under fire for an executive order he signed that redirects voter-approved gas taxes initially designed to expand transportation and infrastructure repair projects to “climate change”-related projects not authorized by the voters.  SB1, proposed by Senate President Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, was a gas tax repeal initiative, called the “Road Repair and Accountability Act.” Tax revenue from the bill would repair the state’s failing roads, highways and bridges.
  • 🚫/NVRAmerican Canyon’s general plan update will tackle the toughest issues. American Canyon leaders and citizens are imagining what schools, parks, utilities and traffic-slammed Highway 29 might—and should- look like in 2040. They are updating the city general plan, a task scheduled to take until summer 2022. The City Council last December approved hiring consultants Mintier Harnish to help at a cost of $1.5 million.
  • San Mateo County 101 Express Lanes Construction Update. Project construction from Whipple Avenue to I-380 in San Mateo County is underway! Caltrans is constructing express lanes on U.S. 101 from the San Mateo County/Santa Clara County line to I-380 in South San Francisco. Construction is expected to occur between 2019 and 2022.
  • Sound Wall Segments Being Built Along I-805. As part of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) Interstate 805 South Corridor Enhancement Projects, SEMA Construction Inc. was tapped to build five separate sound wall segments along I-805 between Naples Street in the city of Chula Vista and state Route 54 (SR 54) in the city of National City.

Read More …

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😷 Three Days In

It gets to me in the evening. The fear. The sadness. The discomfort.

In the evening, I start to worry whether I, someone I love, some I care about, a dear friend, a colleague, and yes, even someone I know only through social media — might get sick of this illness. That they might die. I’m selfish. I don’t want anyone I care about to be sick or ill.

As I wrote the other day on Facebook, the fears give into a malaise about the world — make that my carefully constructed world — around me crashing down. I crave order in my life. Things working. My iPod. My DVR. My weekends. Knowing I have the ability to get what I want at the market. Knowing I have the ability to see my friends. This little strand of RNA reproducing has disrupted all of that. I don’t like it.

Yet I know that I still have many blessings. I don’t have to worry about my job or income. Our customer wants us to do more work. We’re all reasonably healthy. To our knowledge, we haven’t been near carriers, and have been self-isolating. I’m generally an introvert — I should like this, right?

Right?

But I’m still unsettled. And we’re only three days in. This is likely to be a long haul — conceivably stretching into May or June. This is going to be a very long year — not what any of us had planned.

I’m hoping that by writing these thoughts down, I’m getting them out of my brain. I’m sure you’re having thoughts like these as well. Feel free to share. Perhaps by sharing, we can help each other.

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😷 Why The Panic? It’s No Worse Than The Flu … Uh, No

I have a number of Conservative friends are who are making fun of the whole COVID-19/Coronavirus response. I’m sure you’ve got friends like that. The ones who insist that the name-your-flu-pandemic was worse. The ones who insist that events shouldn’t be cancelled; the high-risk population should just avoid going to them. The ones who believe this is just a conspiracy theory.

These folks are wrong. I’m taking a break from working at home to share why.

The charts in this post from Vox give a great summary of why the response you are seeing is warranted. In short:

  1. The virus is spreading rapidly. There are charts that explain this in the Vox post, but the updated SciVs podcast on the subject gives more detail, and it was an update of their first episode on the subject. Basically, there are standard equations that those who deal with epidemics use to predict the spread of an epidemic. These are governed by the R0 value of the disease. R0 a mathematical term that indicates how contagious an infectious disease is. It’s also referred to as the reproduction number. R0 tells you the average number of people who will catch a disease from one contagious person. It specifically applies to a population of people who were previously free of infection and haven’t been vaccinated. If a disease has an R0 of 18, a person who has the disease will transmit it to an average of 18 other people, as long as no one has been vaccinated against it or is already immune to it in their community.  The estimates of the R0 value for the Novel Coronavirus was 2.2: If one person gets it, they will infect on average 2.2 other people. Working from that number, 20 to 70% of the population of the world will be infected. That doesn’t mean they will get sick: people can have a mild or no response to this. But they can go around infecting others. Even if we’re a bit off on that number, we’re looking at 20-60%. The risk is manyfold: not just person to person contact. We now know the virus can remain in the air for 3 hours, and on some surfaces for 3 days. So being out and about where an infected person has been can be very risky — and even if you don’t get sick, you can bring it back with you.
  2. This disease is deadly for certain populations. If you are young and healthy, you’re just going to get something mild and spread it. If you are older, have underlying health problems: this could kill you or land you in an ICU. So how does this compare with the Flu? According to Vox:The Spanish flu of 1918-’19, the most horrific pandemic in modern times, focused mainly on the young. It had biological similarities to a flu pandemic in the 1830s that gave some older people in the 1910s limited immunity. Covid-19 is not like that. So far, deaths in China have been concentrated among older adults, who have weaker immune systems on average than younger people and have a higher rate of chronic illness. People of all ages with chronic medical conditions are also at higher risk. The risk of death is real for younger people as well, but older people have the most reason to take care. Vox also notes: “It is tempting to compare Covid-19 to a more familiar disease: the seasonal flu. After all, the flu also has mild symptoms for most people, and can be dangerous and lethal among vulnerable populations like the elderly. But as the case fatality data shows, there’s no real comparison. About 6 percent of people 60 or older infected with Covid-19 die, according to data we have so far; that’s over six times the fatality rate for elderly people infected with the flu. The overall case fatality rate is at least 23 times greater (the fatality rate has risen since this chart was made). The LA Times also has a good article explaining why this is a greater risk than the seasonal flu. A later Vox article notes the real risk for the elderly: “In Italy, a country with one of the world’s oldest populations, a March 4 analysis by the national health institute found that of the 105 patients who died from the virus, the average age was 81. This put a 20-year gap between the average age of people who tested positive for the virus and the deceased, the institute said. On Friday, an ICU physician in Lombardy — the epicenter of Italy’s outbreak — told JAMA there have been only two deaths of people under the age of 50.”
  3. Our hospitals could be overwhelmed. When COVID-19 is lethal, it is often due to secondary lung infections that require ventilation in a hospital. If the hospitals are full, that treatment isn’t possible. So our goal must be to keep the hospitals below full. How do you do that? Delay the infection rate, and #FlattenTheCurve. If you can reduce the rate at which people get the disease, we can respond and it will be less deadly. Thus, the orders for social distancing and the cancellation of all the events.
  4. But couldn’t those vulnerable just not go to those events?. Sure. But that’s not the real risk. Remember that R0 number. Remember also that people can have this disease, be contagious, but have mild or no symptoms. So those not vulnerable go to the event and either spread the disease and/or get infected and bring it back home. We want to curb the spread rate. This disease is more contagious that the normal flu, which has an R0 of 1.3.  The “Stomach Flu” (Norovirus) is 1.3 to 3.1; measles is 11-18; ebola is 2, zika is 3-6.6. This is 2.2-3.1. That’s bad. Remember also this is a new disease: there are no vaccines, there is no immunity from it.
  5. But Only A Small Number Have This. Actually, we have no idea how many people have this. You only know if someone has it if you test for it, and our testing has been woefully lacking. When China started testing everyone, their numbers jumped. So it is quite likely that a lot more have this than we know. That’s why President Trump’s delayed response was so bad: he delayed getting the testing done, which would have allowed us to contain the first few cases before they spread into the general population. It’s too late for that now.
  6. How Do We Fight This? The answers for most folks is easy: social distancing, to stay away from others who might have the disease and #FlattenTheCurveWashing your hands and using hand sanitizer. If you look at the science of the Coronavirus, it is surrounded by an oily protective layer. Soap destroys this layer and destroys the virus. I’m going so far as to wash not only my hands, but my face as well to get rid of anything that got there through accidental touching. The right hand sanitizers do something similar.
  7. We Can’t Do It Alone As this Atlantic article notes: “Right now, one of the most important things Americans can do is deploy measures like social distancing and self-quarantining, even if they do not feel sick and are not at risk of the worst effects of the disease, in order to “flatten the curve” (epidemiologists’ term for slowing down the natural progression of an outbreak). This requires a radical shift in Americans’ thinking from an individual-first to a communitarian ethos—and it is not a shift that is coming easily to most, especially in the absence of clear federal guidelines.” It goes on to note: “If you are privileged enough to skip an event or work from home, you may save a life—even though the life you save may not be your own. It might be the life of your cousin with cancer, or your colleague’s brother, who has diabetes.”

In closing, I’d like to leave you with this, which is in tribute to Spongebob Squarepants at the Dolby, which had its run shortened due to social distancing:

Spongebob Squarepants Wash Chart

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