🛣️ Headlines and Related Material About California Highways – July 2018

Another month has come to an end. I’ve been preoccupied this month with the “Mapping Project”; more on that in a subsequent post. But until then, here are some headlines and related material about California Highways that I’ve collected over the month:

  • Custom Highway Shields – OpenStreetMap WikiA good source for blank shields for those drawing maps. In particular, it provides a good US blank shield for California sign usage, vs. what comes up from Shields Up.
  • June 23, 1907: Auto Club Begins Posting Road Signs Along Future Route 66 June 23, 1907. The Auto Club of Southern California has begun posting white enamel signs with blue lettering along Foothill Boulevard between Los Angeles and Riverside.Spending about half a day, auto club President George Allen Hancock and Charles Fuller Gates, who is in charge of the county’s signage, staked the route through Highland Park, South Pasadena and Pasadena, Lamanda Park, Baldwin’s ranch, Monrovia, Azusa, Glendora, Claremont, Uplands, Cucamonga, Etiwanda, Stalder (34.0119/117.3125 to folks with GPS) to West Riverside.
  • Highway 395 widening project to begin later this year Significant progress is being made in addressing one of the High Desert’s biggest transportation priorities — the widening of US Highway 395 from Victorville to Adelanto. Later this year, work will begin on nearly $60 million in improvements to the busy stretch of highway — a major freight traffic route and passenger corridor that connects economic centers, recreation areas, cities and rural communities.
  • Caltrans Last Chance Grade Expert Based Risk Assessment (PDF). This report presents the methodology and findings of the expert-based risk assessment BGC Engineering conducted for the Last Chance Grade portion of US 101 in Del Norte County. The drawings attached to the report were developed as part of this process and were instrumental in the expert panel review. The other content reviewed by the panel has been published previously and is not duplicated here.
  • Truckee bridge construction taking off in Tahoe City Since the beginning of May, road blocks and orange cones have lined the edges of California Route 89 leading into Tahoe City, marking the beginning of a major construction project that is expected to run through Oct. 15. The project, originally conceptualized in the 1994 Tahoe City Community Plan, is a new Truckee River bridge — a rebuild of Fanny Bridge.

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🛣 Updates to California Highways – June 2018

OK, OK. I said I wouldn’t let too much time elapse between updates. Life got away from me. Deal.

[Let me note that below the cut is information on all the things your gas tax is paying for: the STIP, the SHOPP, and all the SB1 programs. I urge you to go through those documents, and support the good work, jobs, and safer highways it is creating.]

I’m starting to get the urge to do some remodeling around here. I’ve already gotten the site moved to HTTPS: all the time, both on the blog side and on the highways side. Next up will be moving to a responsive design, together with some basic graphic changes of the headers and menus. I have no plans to change the content or my method of content generation. Rather, the use of icons as a menu with no text is very out of date; I’d rather go to a more accessible and understandable approach with some drop-down menus, and perhaps a nice graphic header. I did explore using a different CMS for the highway side and integrating my generation approach, but I’ve come to realize that is quite likely overkill. The problems I’ve got are (a) finding a good WSYWYG HTML editor that I like (both of the ones I use, HoTMetaL Pro and Amaya are abandonware). Second is learning how responsive design works and having the time to do it (this site was started in the earliest days of the web). So comment if you have suggestions (or wish to volunteer to help with the top level design), and be prepared for a new look at some point in the future. You can see my thoughts on what I would like from the redesign here; it also explains how the site is generated.

Moving on to the updates: Updates were made to the following highways, based on my reading of the papers (which are posted to the roadgeeking category at the “Observations Along The Road” and to the California Highways Facebook group) as well as any backed up email changes. I also reviewed the the AAroads forum. This resulted in changes on the following routes, with credit as indicated [my research(1), contributions of information or leads (via direct mail) from Michael Ballard(2), bing101/AARoads(3), DTComposer(4), Tom Fearer​/​Max Rockatansky/AARoads(5), Andy Fields(6), Ray Mullins(7), Alex Nitzman(8), Sparker/AARoads(9), Miosh_Tino/AARoads(10), Don Williams(11), Joel Windmiller(12): Route 1(1,8), Route 4(1), I-5(1,2,8,3,9), US 6(5), I-8(8), Route 9(5), I-10(1), Route 11(8), Route 12(1), Route 14(1), I-15(1), Route 16(8), Route 17(1,5), Route 18(1), LRN 21(5), Route 24(5,8), Route 25(8), Route 28(5), Route 32(1,5), Route 33(5,7,11), Route 34(1), Route 35(1,5), Route 36(1,5), Route 37(8), I-40(1), US 40(5), Route 41(1,5), Route 46(1,5), Route 49(5), US 50(1,5,3), Route 51(1), Route 52(8), Route 57(1) Route 58(1), Route 59(5), Route 60(1), Route 62(1,5), Route 65(3,9), Route 66(1,5), Route 67(1), Route 68(1), Route 70(1,5,9), Route 71(1), Route 75(1), Route 76(1), Route 77(8), I-80(1,3,9), US 80(5), Route 82(8), Route 84(1,9), Route 85(1,5,10), Route 88(12), Route 89(1), Route 91(1), Route 93(8), US 95(1,5), US 97(8), Route 99(1,9), US 101(1,3,6), Route 109(5), I-110(1,8), Route 113(1), Route 114(5,9), Route 119(5), Route 120(5), Route 121(1), Route 123(8), Route 124(5), Route 127(1,5), LRN 127(1,5), Route 130(5,9,8), Route 132(9), Route 135(5,9), Route 136(1,5,9), Route 138(1), Route 138/HDC(1), Route 140(5), Route 146(5), Route 147(1), Route 149(9), Route 152(1), Route 153(5), Route 155(5), Route 156(1), Route 158(5), Route 163(1), Route 165(5,9), Route 166(1,5,8), Route 167(5), Route 172(5), Route 176(5,9), Route 178(5), Route 180(5), Route 184(5), Route 187(1), Route 191(1), Route 192(1), Route 195(5,9), Route 197(8), US 199(8), Route 203(5), I-205(8), Route 207(5), Route 209(5), I-210(1), Route 218(1), Route 219(5), Route 222(9), Route 223(5), Route 227(5), Route 237(5), Route 241(1), Route 246(1), Route 265(8), Route 268(1), Route 270(5), Route 273(8), I-280(1), Route 281(8), Route 283(8), Route 284(8), Route 299(8), Route 330(8), Route 371(1,8), US 395(8), US 399(5), I-405(1), US 466(5), I-580(1), I-605(1,4), I-680(1), I-710(1), I-780(3), I-805(1,8), Route 905(8), CR A15(5), County Route A22(5), County Route A23(5), County Route G13(5), CR G14(5), County Route J18(5), County Route J59(5).

Added some extensive history to Route 710 for the period before 2006, as a result of some of my materials being used in an exhibition on the history and controversy over the Route 710 Gap Completion. Thanks also to Julia Tcharfas and Tim Ivison, the exhibition organizers, for the scans of the proposed Route 710 gap routings from the 1980s, which was in their extensive set of clippings on the subject. This also led me to write a blog post on the subject.

Added a question to the FAQ about roadside memorials.

Processed some link corrections from David CrispRosanna Kull, and Will Tottle.

I’ve begun the slow process of adding postmile references to ensure I present highway information in order. Notable routes where this has been done includes Route 1, I-5, Route 99, and US 101. The process of doing so uncovered a few errors in the site, which have been corrected. For those who love to debate, this uncovered that there is a Route 101U, just as there was a Route 14U. There’s also a Route 210U.

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🛣️ Headlines About California Highways – June 2018

June has proven to be a very busy month. In addition to a ridiculously busy theatre schedule thanks to the  Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB), I’ve been working on highway page updates. Those updates have been complicated by the adoption in March of the 2018 State Transportation Improvement Program and the 2018 State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP). When I post the description of the updates, read them carefully as there will be a lot there. This post captures two things: One, some research I’ve done on the STIP and SHOPP so I can find things later. Two, the highway headlines for June that have been incorporated (or will be incorporated) into the June Highway Page updates. Remaining headlines for the next batch of updates will be in the July posting.

STIP/SHOPP Information

Highway Headlines

  • Caltrans’ new director to visit Last Chance Grade. Caltrans Director Laurie Berman was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown in March and will be making her first trip to the area as director today to tour Caltrans District 1 and visit Last Chance Grade.
  • Community meeting on Cal Trans Highway 121 project. CalTrans has called a community meeting for Wednesday, May 30, to discuss a coming safety improvement project on State Route 121 between Wagner and Bisso roads, south of the Bonneau Rd. intersection past Cornerstone and Viansa Winery. The project proposes to reduce accidents and improve safety by implementing safety measures, such as widening shoulders, realigning the roadway and adding a center-turn lane where necessary.
  • CalTrans announces I-5 traffic changes. The California Department of Transportation announced plans Tuesday night to remove a bypass lane through the SCV on Thursday, and open another June 8. As part of the Caltrans I-5 Roadway Rehabilitation Project, the department is taking away a temporary bypass lane on Interstate 5 between Valencia Boulevard and State Route 126 this week, due to pavement construction near Santa Clarita.
  • Caltrans: Stoplight at Camp Richardson discontinued indefinitely. Following backlash in its first summer of use and input from partner agencies, the pedestrian stoplight at Camp Richardson is on indefinite hiatus, according to the California Department of Transportation. The device was installed in 2016 as part of a Caltrans construction project. It was mostly used in the summer of 2017 as a means to help address traffic and pedestrian issues.
  • US 50 reconstruction project phase 2 in South Lake Tahoe underway. Road work is ramping up around the Tahoe Basin, including on South Shore where the California Department of Transportation has resumed reconstructing a stretch of U.S. 50. Now entering its second year, the three-year, $56.9 million project involves rebuilding a 2-mile stretch of U.S. 50 from the “Y” to Trout Creek Bridge. The rebuilding includes widening the roadway to provide 6-foot shoulders for bike lanes in both directions, replacing traffic signals, rebuilding curbs, gutters and sidewalks, and improving the pavement cross slope, according to Caltrans.
  • Caltrans District 7 Tweet:. Media Advisory – Friday, June 1 at 12 p.m. join Caltrans and our partners @California_CTC @MayorOfLA @metrolosangeles @CHPsouthern @SouthBayCCOG as we break ground for the beginning of the $35 million 110/405 interchange improvement project.
  • The far-out future 1960s planners envisioned for LA transit. If midcentury planners and architects had their way, we’d be whizzing around Los Angeles in monorails and flying buses. Southern California’s population and economy were booming in the 1950s and ’60s, driving up the demand for practical infrastructure, says architect and historian Alan Hess.

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I-710 and #MeToo

Last night, I went to the opening of “710”, an exhibition described as:

An exhibition considering the timeline, the geography, and the politics of the 710 interstate freeway and its incomplete five-mile northern extension — an invisible line that marks the longest running development dispute in American history. Covering 23 miles and over 60 years of local, state, and federal planning, the exhibition looks at our ever-changing relationship to the freeways and the matrix of transportation, industry, environment, and neighborhood power that it has come to represent.

For many residents of the San Gabriel Valley, the 710 is the freeway that will never be built. The five mile gap between Valley Boulevard in the south and West California Boulevard in the north marks the battle lines of an intergenerational conflict over the very meaning of “development”. For the California Department of Transportation, the 710 is the freeway that is always about to be completed. One more feasibility study, one more environmental impact report, one more funding cycle or election away… always just on the horizon of final connection, of “closing the gap”. In 2018, with the overland freeway proposal dead and the tunnel alternative currently de-funded, we look back on a struggle that has spanned the entire freeway era in America, from modernist ideal to paleotechnic dinosaur.

I was at the exhibit because some of my source materials for California Highways were on loan to it. It was held in one of the houses near the 710 northern stub (near the “fork in the road“). On the way home, it got me thinking. First, that I need to add some material on the highway pages covering the pre-2000 period of the gap completion fight (this will be done in the June updates to the site). Second — and the reason for this post — it got me thinking about the arguments both for and against the highway. The argument against the gap completion is clear: the impact on the local communities, the destruction of beautiful and historic homes, the impact on air quality and traffic in the communities, the visual blight. But (and this wasn’t heavy in the exhibition), what is the argument for? Primarily, one would think it is thru truck traffic (and even that might be limited — some of the alternatives wouldn’t allow thru trucks on the gap segment). It is completion of a line on a map. But it doesn’t benefit the local community except for a few minutes of time. In this day and age — and much as fellow roadgeeks might dislike me for saying it — there’s no strong reason to complete the route, other than traffic flow. How does one balance larger congestion relief with devastating impacts on the communities traversed — especially in an era on increased sensitivity.

This, in turn, got me thinking of how Caltrans built freeways in the 1950s, and how attitudes have changed. In many many ways, it is like the #metoo movement as a reflection of how societal attitudes have changed, and how what was once acceptable is not anymore.

Consider: In the heyday of freeway building, the need for “traffic privilege” overrode everything. We built where there was no road. We widened and “expresswayed” and “freeway-tized” existing roads. We cut through the hearts of communities, poor or rich, we didn’t care. The rights of the roadbuilder were supreme. In a paternalistic and colonial sense, the freeways were built “because they were good for you”. Close your eyes and think of the empire.

But we’ve learned quite a bit — and become more sensitive. We are still building new freeways, but often they are in areas where there is nothing now, and only the environment to complain (think about the High Desert Corridor as an example). When freeways are built through communities, often the past of least resistance — meaning the path of redevelopment — is taken. Translation: Build through the lower income communities that can’t afford to protest and fight back. Again, examples of this are clear in the distant and recent past: Building I-5 through Boyle Heights. Building the Century Freeway through Inglewood and South LA. The proposal to widen I-710 through the working class communities south of I-10 (although that is being fought). There is the increasing sense, however, that this is wrong. We’re widening the freeway, but for what end. Are there other solutions possible?

Then there are the wealthier communities: the ones that can afford to protest. Beverly Hills. Hollywood. Pasadena. South Pasadena. They make us realize that quite a bit will be lost in our quest to save a few minutes. They make us realize that what was once acceptable may not have been the right answer.

In the case of the 710, of course, this was a problem of Caltrans’ making. Caltrans policy in the 1950s and 1960s was to build the hardest parts first, and then connect them: meaning they built the interchanges and then the roads to connect them. In the case of the 710, the location of 134/210/710 interchange and the terminus N of I-10 at Valley Blvd created the problem, for it had to connect one unchangeable point with another unchangeable point. That created the Meridian Alignment and almost guaranteed the battle. If Caltrans had chosen to not build the stub portions of the interchange, they would have had the flexibility to pick any point along the 210 as the end of the 710, and to pick other points along the 10, and could likely have limited the construction to business districts, and widening of an existing road vs. creation of a new route. Caltrans, essentially, boxed themselves into a corner.

As a PS: For the argument about the freight traffic from the port, which was the principal reason that Long Beach built what became the 710 in the first place, and is the primary freight traffic on the 710: there is an easy answer. Rail. Find a distribution point out of the city, and build a dedicated rail line from the Port to that distribution center. Rail takes much less right of way, does not require interchanges, and can have much higher density of containers than trucks ever can. It can also use non-polluting engines. Use rail to bring things to the out-of-city distribution point, and then run trucks from there to other points.

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Headlines about California Highways for May 2018

Well, the first update for the highway pages is getting closer. But first, some headlines. Here are the accumulated headlines about California Highways for May 2018. Many of these will be discussing allocations from the California Transportation Commission that are dependent on SB1, or are talking about SB1. So first, a little political aside:

I have been spending Memorial Day weekend starting on long-awaited updates to the highway pages. In doing so, I’ve seen the long list of projects funded by SB1 (otherwise known as the Gas Tax), and the long list of major projects whose completion depends on SB1. But SB1 is in jeopardy. There are many who do not understand how it works, what it funds, and why it is needed. SPREAD THE WORD. SB1 is badly needed. Vote yes on Prop 69. Vote FOR candidates that support SB1, and AGAINST those that support the repeal. When the November election comes, defeat the repeal. The pennies we pay at the pump go a long way to make our drives more pleasant, and getting us to our destinations faster and safer.

For those who don’t know, here is the process of how I do highway page updates: Phase 1 is headline updates. First, I go through these headline posts and update pages, then I go through material emailed to me. I then skim the AARoads Pacific Southwest Forum for other information I might have missed. Phase 2 is looking at the legislative actions and updating pages based on those. In Phase 3, I go through the minutes of the California Transportation Commission looking for significant changes to highways: reroutings, widenings, relinquishments, EIRs, and such (not ephemeral things like resurfacing or landscaping). This post, which is going up a few days early, will represent the headline stopping point for this update (i.e., headlines after this post will go into the next round).

So here are the headlines for May. As always, for most paywalled pages, you can get around the paywall by trying incognito or private mode in your browser.

  • Caltrans: Hwy 1 at Mud Creek expected to reopen in mid-September. Caltrans has announced a new target of mid-September to reopen Highway 1 at Mud Creek. A massive landslide in May 2017 sent more than 6 million cubic yards of rock and dirt onto the highway and into the ocean. It was the biggest slide ever along California’s Big Sur coast. Since then, Highway 1 has been closed between Salmon Creek and Gorda.
  • California eyes fall reopening of Highway 1 near Big Sur. California transportation officials are targeting mid-September for reopening a stretch of iconic Highway 1 in the Big Sur region that was blocked almost a year ago by a massive landslide following winter storms. The slide has hindered visitors and hurt businesses on the major tourism route among classic California coastal vistas and landmarks between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
  • There’s Still Time to Comment on the Proposed I-605/Katella Interchange Project. More than 50 area residents and community leaders attended a public hearing in Los Alamitos on April 24 regarding the I-605/Katella Avenue Interchange Project. The proposed project would enhance the local interchange by improving freeway access, traffic flow and pedestrian and bike paths.
  • New on-ramps, off-ramps to 60 Freeway in City of Industry, Diamond Bar will open on Tuesday. Two of the three legs of the new Lemon Avenue interchange of the 60 Freeway in Diamond Bar will open on Tuesday, May 1 in time for the busy morning commute, according to the Alameda Corridor-East Construction Authority. At 6 a.m., Caltrans will clear away the orange cones and officially allow vehicles to enter the westbound 60 Freeway from a brand new Lemon Avenue on-ramp. Freeway riders traveling eastbound can take the Lemon Avenue exit via a newly constructed off-ramp.
  • Bridging Moody Gulch on Highway 17. Q: While expensive, any thoughts on bridging Moody Gulch on Highway 17? Seems like the elevation on both ends does not make it much of a rise.

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Headlines About California Highways – April 2018

Another month has come to end — a month to busy for me to get to web page updates. But I can still share some headlines with you — both for your information, and my memory for when I do get to the updates :-). Stay safe on the roads, folks, and if you drive the Sepulveda Pass corridor, remember that Metro is doing a survey for future improvements in the corridor. Note: If you run into paywall problems on any of the sites below, try viewing the article in your browser’s private or incognito modes.

  • A look back at the beginnings of Highway 101. Mrs. Lucy Levy’s mud-stained trousseau while traveling through Santa Barbara County in the 1880s was testimony to the fact that we live in a land of little rain until it rains. On Presidents Day weekend, we were driving to a Mission Museums meeting in Solvang when a winter storm moved in. We suddenly realized there were many drivers on the road who might never have driven in a real rainstorm. Until the modern freeway, El Camino Real was hazardous during the best of times. It could be a long and dusty trail that also abruptly became a windswept and mud-flooded plain
  • Interstate 805 California. [Note: This is here because it had some immigration sign information I need to capture for my website.]
  • CALTRANS WANTS TO WIDEN LINCOLN BOULEVARD. Caltrans will host a community meeting on Wednesday (March 28) to discuss plans for widening Lincoln Boulevard between Jefferson Boulevard in Playa Vista and Fiji Way in Marina del Rey. The heavily trafficked 0.6-mile stretch of Lincoln traverses the upper and lower segments of the ecologically sensitive Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve.
  • Highway 246 passing lanes project continues. Drivers traveling on Highway 246 will encounter some lane closures with one-way reversing traffic starting Monday. Caltrans is completing a project to construct passing lanes in both directions of the road near Lompoc from Cebada Canyon Road to Hapgood Road.

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Headlines about California Highway – March 2018

Ah, the month of March has come to an end, bringing us the fools of April, with bunnies that lay eggs and matzahs that have balls. So what’s been happening with the highways of California? Let’s find out:

  • 710 Freeway is a ‘diesel death zone’ to neighbors — can vital commerce route be fixed?. For decades, the 710 Freeway has been the commercial spine of Southern California, funneling the trucks carrying thousands of tons of furniture, clothes, televisions and other goods from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach into the region’s sprawling network of freeways and warehouses. But the steady stream of freight traffic on the 710, driven by the country’s growing appetite for imported goods and two-day shipping, has taken its toll. The pavement is cracked, bottlenecks are common, and the share of trucks on the freeway is three times higher than engineers in the 1960s expected.
  • Metro to decide on 710 Freeway widening in Long Beach. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plans to upgrade the heavily-congested 710 Freeway from Long Beach to East Los Angeles may take a significant step forward Wednesday, but with the key caveat that any widening of the freeway would not be allowed until after a decade or so’s worth of other improvements are accomplished.
  • Metro board moves forward with 710 overhaul, but wants to wait on widening. Metro’s Board of Directors unanimously approved a plan today to revamp the 710 freeway from Long Beach to East Los Angeles, but it’s holding off on the most costly and contentious part of the plan: widening much of the route to five lanes in each direction. Instead, the board approved fast-tracking portions of the plan that would be cheaper to implement and wouldn’t result in displacement for residents and business owners in areas close to the freeway. The board still needs to nail down the projects, but they could include parks, air filters in schools, and road improvements near the freeway.

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Headlines About California Highways – February 2018

What a month! For a short month, it has been incredibly busy. But fear not, I’ve been collecting headlines for you. Here’s what’s been happening in the Golden State over the last month:

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