🛣️ Changes to the California Highway Web Page: July-October 2018

Phase 2 of the site refresh is done — the second half of the “Mapping Project Phase”. In this phase, maps illustrating each route were added to the County Sign Route pages. This uncovered loads of errors in the database, and loads of errors in Google Maps. It also shows much more visually the rhyme and reason behind the county sign routes. It is a shame that the counties have not done a better job signing these routes or calling attention to them — many of them look quite useful and interesting to drive. It is also interesting that many counties do not choose to participate in the program, or do so only sparingly.

Next up: A normal update, processing headlines, legislative actions, and CTC minutes.


🛣️ Headlines about California Highways – September 2018

Ah, September. The last month of the US Government fiscal year. Silly season 3. But also the time when we are gearing up for the November elections — and for us roadgeeks, the battle over Proposition 6 — the initiative to repeal the gas tax increase, which (if passed) will do horrible things for the highways in this state. As for me, it has been a month of adding maps to the county sign route pages; as the month finished, I’ve added routes through all the letters up to “S”, and am working on the “S”s. So while I work on that, have some headlines:

  • Big Surā€™s new stretch of highway already cracking. The newly rebuilt section of Big Surā€™s scenic Highway 1 near the town of Gorda is beginning to crack, an early sign of wear for the road that opened just a month ago. But itā€™s nothing to be alarmed about, state officials say. Several cracks in the pavement, sometimes a foot or longer, were reported this week across the one-third mile stretch of coastal road, which was closed to traffic in May 2017 after being washed out by the enormous Mud Creek Slide.
  • Mineral King Road/Mountain Road 375; the unbuilt California State Route 276. Back in July of 2016 I took Mineral King Road east from California State Route 198 to Mineral King Valley in Sequoia National Park. Mineral King Road is a 24.8 mile roadway which travels from the confluence of the Middle Fork and East Fork Kaweah River in modern day Three Rivers to Mineral King Valley. Mineral King Road has an approximate starting elevation at about 1,000 feet above sea level in Three Rivers and ends at approximately 7,400 feet above sea level in Mineral King Valley in the High Sierras.
  • Yesterland: Walt Disney’s Mineral King. It was a Friday. It was about a week before Christmas. And it was official: The U.S. Forest Service awarded the right to develop the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Forest to Walt Disney Productions. The year was 1965. A wire service article quoted Walt Disney: ā€œWhen I first saw Mineral King five years ago, I thought it was one of the most beautiful spots I had ever seen and we want to keep it that way.ā€ To Walt Disney, that meant a self-contained ā€œAlpine Villageā€ designed to preserve the natural beauty of valley. Other people wanted ā€œto keep it that wayā€ too. But to them it meant no development at all.
  • The western end of US Route 6 and Laws Depot on the Carson & Colorado Railway. Back in June of 2016 I visited the western terminus of US Route 6 at US Route 395 located in Bishop, California of Inyo County on my way to Laws Depot. US 6 is one of the longest US Routes at 3,205 miles between Bishop, CA east to Provincetown, MA. Historically US 6 was the longest US Route ever when it ended in Long Beach at 3,652 miles. US 6 is known as the Grand Army of the Republic Highway and is mostly known for traveling through some of the most rural corners of the Continental United States.

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🛣️ August Headlines About California Highways

Another month has passed, and so it is time for another accumulation of highway headlines. Hopefully, your summer has been filled with interesting travels along the roads of this state. Speaking of states, I’ll note that I’m currently in the process of the second phase of the site remodel: I’m starting to add maps to the county sign route pages. So far, I’ve done routes in the A, B, C, D, and E groups. I’ll announce when that effort is completed.

Here are your headlines for August:

  • Route Highway 37 through American Canyon? Napans shudder.Ā One idea to save Highway 37 along San Pablo Bay from predicted sea level rise is moving a section north to drier land along a new route through American Canyon and rural southwest Napa County.Ā The Napa County option would mean combining the 40,000 autos using Highway 37 daily with the 45,000 autos using Highway 29 daily through the city of American Canyon. American Canyon is already a notorious traffic chokepoint in Napa County.
  • Caltrans I-5 rehab on track for 2019.Ā  When Santa Clarita Mayor Pro Tem Marsha McLean tried to use the freeway earlier this month, her experience, like many in the Santa Clarita Valley, was a bit tumultuous. As McLean tried getting on the freeway at Lyons Avenue traveling northbound, blocked lanes made it difficult for her to dodge the trucks going by ā€œpretty fast.ā€Ā Thatā€™s because the California Department of Transportationā€™s Interstate 5 Roadway Rehabilitation Project is well underway. The 15.8-mile stretch of I-5 under construction cuts through the Santa Clarita Valley, and has served daily traffic for 50 years.
  • 405 Freeway widening project moving forward with closure of McFadden Avenue bridge on Aug. 7.Ā  Itā€™s time to start paying attention to the 405 Freeway widening projectĀ ā€“ and to figure out alternate routes. Beginning next week, bridges crossing over the freeway will lose lanes orĀ ā€“ in some casesĀ ā€“ be shut down altogether. Construction work, however, will be staggered along the 16-mile stretch to help alleviate traffic jams sure to plague each area as it takes its turn.
  • Trans-Sierra Highway Passes; Interstate 80 Donner Summit. Back in 2016 I attempted as many Trans-Sierra Highway Passes as I could upon my return to California.Ā  I started with Interstate 80 over Donner Summit during the late winter on the way to Lake Tahoe and Virginia City.

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🗯️ Urban Privilege

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working on adding maps to my highway pages (I just finished). As I do this, I’ve been essentially seeing both urban and rural corridors in the state, and my mind has been thinking about the entire state. I mention this because of an interesting phrase that popped into my head recently while on the van to work: “urban privilege”. The notion arose when I was thinking about all the building of freeways, and all the proposals for freeways in all these rural areas that had no need for them. It popped into my head as I thought about all the moves away from individual cars and car ownership, into shared ride systems, commuter trains, and pushing people to bicycles and other forms of personal transportation that are perfect for dense, urban areas. It popped into my head when I thought about the state routes and the road system, and how much of a lifeline that is to rural areas of the state. It popped into my head as I thought about the push for electric vehicles, which have a limited distance they can go on a charge: great for dense urban commuting, not so great for longer rural distances.

In the urban areas, there’s a lot of talk and a lot of thought about “white privilege“: the implicit, inherent benefits one gains by being white in American society. Examples abound, from the shampoo that is given out in hotels that is perfect for Caucasian hair, but less so for ethnic hair, to the fact that there’s no question when a white jumps ahead in line, but not for someone whose black. We’re well aware by now about the “white privilege” in the interaction with law enforcement. For this post, I’m concentrating less on the “white”, and more on this notion of implicit privilege based on a characteristic.

So here’s the premise: Is there such a thing as “urban privilege”? How much of this notion of “urban privilege”, and the unconscious resentment it engenders, be a contributing factor in the rise of Donald Trump?

Think about it: Under the Obama administration (translation: Under an administration perceived as liberal and progressive), there were loads of actions that encouraged things that worked well for those in urban environments. Pushes towards increase ride density and housing density. Pushes towards services in cities. Pushes towards the Internet. Even the Affordable Care Act worked better for people in cities with larger sets of providers and insurers. And because those who have the privilege don’t see it, we were blind to how this played in the rural areas — who were feeling forgotten, neglected, and that no one was listening to their concerns.

And, just like the “Black Lives Matter” movement was an expression of: WE ARE NOT BEING LISTENED TO. Just like Occupy was an expression of WE ARE NOT BEING LISTENED TO. … the rise of Trump was the rise of an electorate and a constituency that was no longer being heard to say: WE ARE NOT BEING LISTENED TO. Donald Trump, for all of his faults, was listening to them and they responded. They, in turn, and responded to being loyal to a fault. [And, by the way, one might argue the same is true for Bernie-crats, who were being ignored by the Clinton wing of the party, and the party was giving an implicit bias towards the Clinton wing]

I’m not writing this to try to apologize for Trump, or excuse his behavior. Rather, this is what we might call “a learning opportunity”. With our eye on the prize — getting Donald Trump and his offensive ideas and behavior out of office — we must learn from this. Here’s what I see we must learn:

  • We must take off our urban privilege blinders. We must think about how our progressive ideas play throughout the country.
  • We must listen. We can’t think that just because we might be urban and better educated, that we are some how smarter or better than the rest of the country. We must hear the concerns of all, and design solutions that work for all.
  • We must realize segments that feel wronged or ignored can choose to work for us, or they can choose to work against us. We’ve seen what happens when they work against us; we must figure out how to turn that energy in a different direction.

The “12 Steps” teach that the first step is recognizing the problem. Then you work on changing your behavior, and making amends for what you’ve done wrong in the past. That is what we as liberals and progressives must do. We can’t, with blinders on, think that we weren’t (at least partially) a contributor to this mess. We have to recognize that to start down the path of fixing it.

So (to bring this back to highways): How do we address this issue? How do we ensure that tax dollars and other funds raised for transportation purposes benefit not only the urban commuter, but the rural transportation user? Is it more effective trucking of goods to lower costs? Better design and maintenance of rural roads to prevent closure during adverse weather conditions? Is it figuring out how to make the notion of ride sharing work in a less-dense environment, or an environment with more on-demand vs. regular usage.

I don’t have the answer. But the question is worth asking.


🛣️ Changes to the California Highways Web Pages – July 2018

July was not a normal update: It was phase 1 of the site refresh, also known as the “Mapping Project Phase.” In this phase, maps illustrating each route were added to the pages. Future phases in this project will include:

  • Adding maps to the county highways, and conversion of the county pages away from the “table” format.
  • Potentially adding some more historical maps for the pre-1964 routes, although Tom Fearerā€‹/ā€‹Max Rockatansky/Challenger 66 may be doing this on some of his blogs, and I may just point there.
  • Reworking of the site to have one highway per page, instead of the present eight per page.
  • Adapting the site for responsive design.

Folks, the short description above may not give what was done sufficient weight. Basically, for every numbered state route, a map was added showing where the route currently runs, or where the route did run when it existed. For some of the routes, there are additional maps and insets providing more history and annotation. The Caltrans postmile tool was of great help here, as was the archive of state highway maps in the David Rumsey collection (linked here). Comments and corrections are welcome, but note the emphasis is not on showing all the historical routings. The primary goal was to give the site user a sense of where the route is or was in relation to the overall state, so that it is more than just a number.

You can see the route pages, with the updated maps, by starting here.


🛣️ 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 Wiki.Ā A 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.Ā Ā 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 countyā€™s signage, staked the route through Highland Park, South Pasadena and Pasadena,Ā Lamanda Park, Baldwinā€™s ranch, Monrovia, Azusa, Glendora, Claremont, Uplands, Cucamonga,Ā Etiwanda,Ā StalderĀ (34.0119/117.3125 to folks with GPS) to West Riverside.
  • Highway 395 widening project to begin later this year.Ā Ā Significant progress is being made in addressing one of the High Desertā€™s biggest transportation priorities ā€” 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 ā€” 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).Ā This report presents the methodology and findings of the expert-based risk assessment BGCĀ Engineering conducted for the Last Chance Grade portion of US 101 in Del Norte County. TheĀ drawings attached to the report were developed as part of this process and were instrumental inĀ the expert panel review. The other content reviewed by the panel has been published previouslyĀ and is not duplicated here.
  • Truckee bridge construction taking off in Tahoe City.Ā Ā 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 ā€” 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’mĀ 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,Ā HoTMetaL ProĀ andĀ AmayaĀ 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 seeĀ 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 toĀ the roadgeeking category at the “Observations Along The Road”Ā and to theĀ California Highways Facebook group) as well as any backed up email changes. I also reviewed theĀ 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 Fearerā€‹/ā€‹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):Ā RouteĀ 1(1,8), RouteĀ 4(1), I-5(1,2,8,3,9), USĀ 6(5),Ā I-8(8), RouteĀ 9(5), I-10(1), RouteĀ 11(8),Ā RouteĀ 12(1), RouteĀ 14(1), I-15(1), RouteĀ 16(8),Ā RouteĀ 17(1,5), RouteĀ 18(1), LRNĀ 21(5), RouteĀ 24(5,8),Ā RouteĀ 25(8), RouteĀ 28(5), RouteĀ 32(1,5), RouteĀ 33(5,7,11),Ā RouteĀ 34(1), RouteĀ 35(1,5), RouteĀ 36(1,5),Ā RouteĀ 37(8), I-40(1), USĀ 40(5), RouteĀ 41(1,5),Ā RouteĀ 46(1,5), RouteĀ 49(5), USĀ 50(1,5,3), RouteĀ 51(1),Ā RouteĀ 52(8), RouteĀ 57(1)Ā RouteĀ 58(1), RouteĀ 59(5),Ā RouteĀ 60(1), RouteĀ 62(1,5), RouteĀ 65(3,9), RouteĀ 66(1,5),Ā RouteĀ 67(1), RouteĀ 68(1), RouteĀ 70(1,5,9),Ā RouteĀ 71(1), RouteĀ 75(1), RouteĀ 76(1), RouteĀ 77(8),Ā I-80(1,3,9), USĀ 80(5), RouteĀ 82(8), RouteĀ 84(1,9),Ā RouteĀ 85(1,5,10), RouteĀ 88(12), RouteĀ 89(1), RouteĀ 91(1),Ā RouteĀ 93(8), USĀ 95(1,5), USĀ 97(8), RouteĀ 99(1,9),Ā USĀ 101(1,3,6), RouteĀ 109(5), I-110(1,8), RouteĀ 113(1),Ā RouteĀ 114(5,9), RouteĀ 119(5), RouteĀ 120(5), RouteĀ 121(1),Ā RouteĀ 123(8), RouteĀ 124(5), RouteĀ 127(1,5), LRNĀ 127(1,5),Ā RouteĀ 130(5,9,8), RouteĀ 132(9), RouteĀ 135(5,9),Ā RouteĀ 136(1,5,9), RouteĀ 138(1), RouteĀ 138/HDC(1), RouteĀ 140(5),Ā RouteĀ 146(5), RouteĀ 147(1), RouteĀ 149(9), RouteĀ 152(1),Ā RouteĀ 153(5), RouteĀ 155(5), RouteĀ 156(1), RouteĀ 158(5),Ā RouteĀ 163(1), RouteĀ 165(5,9), RouteĀ 166(1,5,8),Ā RouteĀ 167(5), RouteĀ 172(5), RouteĀ 176(5,9), RouteĀ 178(5),Ā RouteĀ 180(5), RouteĀ 184(5), RouteĀ 187(1), RouteĀ 191(1),Ā RouteĀ 192(1), RouteĀ 195(5,9), RouteĀ 197(8), USĀ 199(8),Ā RouteĀ 203(5), I-205(8), RouteĀ 207(5), RouteĀ 209(5),Ā I-210(1), RouteĀ 218(1), RouteĀ 219(5), RouteĀ 222(9),Ā RouteĀ 223(5), RouteĀ 227(5), RouteĀ 237(5), RouteĀ 241(1),Ā RouteĀ 246(1), RouteĀ 265(8), RouteĀ 268(1), RouteĀ 270(5),Ā RouteĀ 273(8), I-280(1), RouteĀ 281(8), RouteĀ 283(8),Ā RouteĀ 284(8), RouteĀ 299(8), RouteĀ 330(8), RouteĀ 371(1,8),Ā USĀ 395(8), USĀ 399(5), I-405(1), USĀ 466(5),Ā I-580(1), I-605(1,4), I-680(1), I-710(1),Ā I-780(3), I-805(1,8), RouteĀ 905(8), CR A15(5),Ā County RouteĀ A22(5), County RouteĀ A23(5), County RouteĀ G13(5), CR G14(5),Ā County RouteĀ J18(5), County RouteĀ J59(5).

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

AddedĀ a question to the FAQ about roadside memorials.

Processed some link corrections fromĀ David Crisp,Ā Rosanna Kull, andĀ Will Tottle.

I’ve begun the slow process of addingĀ postmile referencesĀ to ensure I present highway information in order. Notable routes where this has been done includes RouteĀ 1, I-5, RouteĀ 99, and USĀ 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 RouteĀ 101U, just as there was a RouteĀ 14U. There’s also a RouteĀ 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 Ā Hollywood Fringe FestivalĀ (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

  • Caltransā€™ 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, weā€™d be whizzing around Los Angeles in monorails and flying buses. Southern Californiaā€™s population and economy were booming in the 1950s and ā€™60s, driving up the demand for practical infrastructure, says architect and historian Alan Hess.

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