Another month comes to an end, and that means it is time for headlines. But before I jump into the headlines, I want to highlight a few other notable things that have happened over the last month:
- Tom Fearer of Gribblenation and I have started a podcast on California Highways. It is called California Highways: Route by Route and you can find our first full sample episode at the episode’s page on caroutebyroute.org, on the episode’s page at Anchor.FM; or an almost all major podcast platforms. This sample episode is about Route 105. We hope to start Season 1 sometime in late June.
- The latest updates to the California Highways web page are up. This includes the review of the SHOPP and the STIP, as well as some interesting upcoming legislation.
- The primary elections in California are less than two weeks away. I believe in being an informed voter, and so examine every candidate on my sample ballot, and write up a summary. This election, this process took me almost 20 hours to do. You can find my summary here; it links to the other pages where I go through all the candidates that led to my decision. I don’t ask (or expect) you’ll agree with my conclusions, but perhaps my research will help you be better informed. What’s most important, however, is that you VOTE. Voting affects the highways and our state in so many ways, and this is your chance to influence the process.
May has been a tiring and stressful month for me. I’ve been dealing with medical problems for me and the continued recovery of my wife from a fall last November; and I’ve had loads of writing projects (the election, podcast, and highway pages as noted above, plus a number of theatre reviews). I’ve had little time to destress, and my main avenue of de-stressing (listening to music) is impacted by the medical problem (ear issues). Let’s hope things go better in June.
But you don’t care about any of that, do you. You care about the headlines. So here are the headlines about California’s highways for May. The headline list seems to be getting smaller–I’m finding less articles about significant road work (I’m not that interested in simple resurfacing), and more articles about transit and rail. I think that’s the direction things are going currently: increase the number of people per vehicle on current roads (as opposed to capacity for more vehicles), and increase broader transit options. But here’s what I found:
[Ħ Historical information | ＄ Paywalls, ＄＄ really obnoxious paywalls, and ∅ other annoying restrictions. I’m no longer going to list the paper names, as I’m including them in the headlines now. Note: For ＄ paywalls, sometimes the only way is incognito mode, grabbing the text before the paywall shows, and pasting into an editor. ]
- I-15 Exit Ramps At Clinton Keith Getting Wrong-Way Driver Prevention (Lake Elsinore, CA Patch). In an effort to prevent wrong-way driver crashes on Inland Empire freeways, Caltrans District 8 has identified priority exit ramps that need attention, and Clinton Keith Road at Interstate 15 in Wildomar is on the list. On Tuesday, the north- and southbound Clinton Keith Road offramps will be closed at I-15 so that Caltrans crews can install wrong-way prevention “enhancements,” according to the state agency.
- Wildlife Undercrossing In Santa Cruz Breaks Ground (Santa Cruz, CA Patch). A project is now underway that will create a wildlife undercrossing beneath state Highway 17 to provide a route for mountain lions and other wildlife to travel safely between two large areas of habitat — both of which are separated by four lanes of the busy traffic corridor. Groundbreaking took place Friday for the Laurel Curve Wildlife Undercrossing in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It will connect 460 acres of land on both sides of Highway 17 that has been preserved in a conservation easement by the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County.
- Last two-lane stretches of Highway 70 now being widened to four lanes (Chico Enterprise-Record). When roadwork currently underway on Highway 70 is complete, Chico will no longer be the largest city in California that isn’t accessed by a four-lane highway. While Highway 70 still has to wind through Marysville, the two projects running north and south from the Yuba/Butte county line will wrap up 16 years of work, costing in excess of $500 million. “I’m really glad it’s being done,” said Butte County Supervisor Bill Connelly. “I look forward to getting our people in and out of town and down to Sacramento safely.”
- California Allocates More Than Half Billion Dollars for Projects (Construction Equipment Guide). Senate Bill (SB) 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, accounts for $317 million, more than half of the funding. “The CTC’s welcome decision to green light more than half a billion dollars to maintain and repair California’s aging transportation infrastructure is not only in keeping with our time-tested “fix-it-first” strategy, but also represents another big step to build and maintain a transportation system that serves all who travel in California, whether by foot, bicycle, bus, train or automobile,” said Steven Keck, acting director of Caltrans. Projects that were recently approved include:
- Hwy 1 Toro Creek Bridge to be replaced near Morro Bay (San Luis Obispo Tribune). Drivers and cyclists, get ready for another lengthy construction project on busy Highway 1, this one replacing the northbound lanes of the Toro Creek Bridge. The two-span, ocean-view bridge is near the Dog Beach area north of the Morro Bay strand area, and about a half mile south of Old Creek Road. Traffic on the scenic highway will be reduced to a single lane in each direction during the two-phase project, which is expected to continue into the spring of 2023. Signs will notify drivers and cyclists about the changes; detours will be established for bicyclists.
Pasadena and Caltrans Reach Agreement to Relinquish 710 Freeway Stub to City (Streetsblog Los Angeles). When I worked for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign a decade and a half ago, my boss used to tell me that a proposed freeway project was never really dead; that the best we could do is defund it and make it politically unpalatable to bring back. I learned this lesson the hard way when a New Jersey road project I helped get defunded was presumed “dead,” then was revived and built with funding from the Obama-era American Rescue and Recovery Act. But if the 710 Freeway “gap” project, which Streetsblog readers voted to dub the “Big Dig” over a decade ago may finally be dead enough that it can’t rise and terrorize residents of Los Angeles, Pasadena and South Pasadena. The North 710 Freeway project was slated to spend $6+ billion dollars for tunnels under these cities, until overwhelming opposition led the Metro board to cancel the project back in 2017.