And September comes to an end. For those of us who are Jewish, it is the start of a new year, 5780, and L’Shanah Tovah to all of you. It is the end of the government fiscal year, meaning that the silly season of trying to close out your FY19 budgets as close to your targets — not over budget or under budget — has ended. We are moving into the fall, with crisper weather. As I write this, we already have our first snowfalls of the season in Lake Tahoe, well before the normal date that highway construction ends. But before we transition, let’s look back a little. September has been a busy month on the highways of our state. Here’s what happened.
[Note: 💲 indicates links that are paywalled (except for the LA Times, 🌴, to which I subscribe). ❌ indicates items overtaken by subsequent events]
- California’s most scenic routes and highways. Under most circumstances, highway driving for more than an hour is a tedious task. But in California not all drives are a drag, especially when cruising down one of its many scenic routes. Throughout the state, you’ll find a number of highways and roads with picturesque views of beaches, hills and nature. We’ve rounded up some of the most beautiful routes and highways throughout the state and included notable sights you can expect on each one.
- ❌ Public meetings scheduled on Highway 50 closure at Echo Summit. Caltrans is hosting two public meetings to discuss details of a potential full closure of Highway 50 over Echo Summit to accommodate bridge construction. The $14.1 million Highway 50 Echo Summit sidehill viaduct project is replacing the existing bridge, which was built in 1939, with a structure that meets current seismic and safety standards. Construction started in May and will be completed either this fall or next spring.
- 7 Bay Area bridges to go cashless, eliminating toll takers’ jobs. Big changes are coming to the Bay Area’s toll bridges. A vote Wednesday signaled the end of cash lanes and toll takers will be replaced by the electronic FasTrak system. The Golden Gate Bridge made the switch six years ago. Now the other Bay Area toll bridges are preparing to eliminate cash payments.
- No more digging for change: Plan to make Bay Area bridge tolls all-electronic approved. The Bay Area Toll Authority just kicked off its plan to convert seven Bay Area bridges to all-electronic tolls. That process includes efforts by Caltrans to find new careers for its roughly 200 toll-takers, who will one day soon be phased out for cameras that snap photos of license plates to forward a bill, and a greater reliance on FasTrak. This plan doesn’t include the Golden Gate Bridge, which is run by an independent district and has already converted to all-electronic tolling. But it does apply to the San Francisco Bay Bridge and its 66 toll-takers, among others.
- MTC Approves $4M Contract To Transition Bay Area Toward Cashless Tolls. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission unanimously approved a $4 million contract Wednesday for consultation services to help switch the Bay Area to an all electronic toll future. With the move, toll takers and toll plazas will soon be a thing of the past with the vision of “open road toll taking.”