🛣 Headlines About California Highways – March 2023

It’s been a wet winter, hasn’t it. Really really wet. Wet enough that road closures due to flooding have become the norm, and hillsides are slipping and sliding. The rain has also delayed construction work; and that has gotten me into arguments on Nextdoor about the pace of completion for the Reseda exit off of Route 118 (read the comments). It appears that loads of people don’t understand road projects and how road construction works, and just want to blame … someone. Welcome to Nextdoor.

But on the plus side: I completed the first round of updates to the California Highways site for 2023, and that included loads of planning maps uncovered by Joel Windmiller. As always, if you have interesting history on a route you think might work for the pages, send it to me. I also changed my synchronization method between browsers, and that led to a lot more articles being saved. So there are loads of headlines this month. Note that, with respect to storm damage: I’m less interested in flooding and hillside slips unless they create damage that takes a long time to heal (such as Route 1). I’m more interested in major sinkholes, as that will require big-time SHOPP funding to fix.

The podcast continues. As of the last episode, we’ve decided that the fight for interviews is slowing things down. If we can get them, we’ll generally release them as a bonus episode. I’d say that should shorten our episodes, but the last one was a long one anyway. What amazed me more was the discussion it engendered: Never has a podcast episode announcement started such discussion. It appears some people really hate the Interstates for taking away their US highways, or the hate some of AASHTO’s numbering choices. I try to stay neutral on those subjects: I try to report what is, and why it is that way. I can’t change what has been done, and I’m not in the position to change these things in the future.

OK. You should be caught up now. Here are the headlines that I found about California’s highways for March:


[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.]

California Highways: Route by Route Podcast

  • California Highways: Route by Route logoCARxR 1.09: Highway Numbering: Interstate Highways. In this episode, we continue our exploration of numbering of state highways by turning our attention to the Interstate Highway system. This system, started in 1956, uses the red, white, and blue shields. It is the third episode in a four part miniseries on highway numbers in California. In this episode we talk about the history of the Interstate Highway system, how the Interstate Highways are numbered, the history of California’s chargable interstates (i.e., highways that counted towards the federal 42,500 mile limit), the history of California’s non-chargeable interstates, some interstate submissions that were never approved, and we opine about some of the most common questions about California interstates. (57:38)

Back episodes are available at the Podcast’s forever home, as well as on its Spotify for Podcasters home. The Spotify (nee Anchor.FM) link also has links to the podcast’s page on most major podcasting services.

Highway Headlines

  • Stretch of 5 Freeway named after Dodgers legend Tommy Lasorda (Los Angeles Times). The stretch of the 5 Freeway where Tommy Lasorda started his trips to Dodger Stadium and exited after games now bears his name. Twenty-seven miles southeast of what Lasorda called “Blue Heaven on Earth” is the “Tommy Lasorda Dodger Legend Memorial Highway.” The pair of green highway signs are already up on the 5 Freeway in Fullerton, near the former Dodgers manager’s longtime home. The signs are on the northbound and southbound lanes between Lincoln Avenue and Ball Road.
  • Bait and Switch: Caltrans and Metro Quietly Scale Back 71 Freeway Widening in Pomona (Streetsblog Los Angeles). This week, Metro revealed new details about the under-construction widening of the 71 Freeway in the city of Pomona. Metro and Caltrans had promoted the project as a nearly 2-mile-long freeway widening, with an upgraded pedestrian overcrossing – but it has been quietly scaled back to a ~1.5-mile widening with no pedestrian component. For decades, Metro and Caltrans planned to convert State Route 71 from an Expressway to a Freeway – meaning expanding the current four-lane configuration to eight lanes. Caltrans terms the result “a cleaner and more sustainable travel network for the future” because two of the four new lanes will be HOV lanes. SR-71 expansion didn’t get off the ground until Metro came up with funding. Specifically, Metro’s Measure M sales tax expenditure plan programmed $248.5 million for the project. Metro also sought and received a $43 million grant from the state’s Trade Corridor Enhancement Program (TCEP) which is funded via S.B. 1 gas tax revenues.
  • I-15 widening project has an unclear completion date, Caltrans says (KLAS 8 News Now). From F1 to the Super Bowl, millions are expected to hit the I-15 towards Las Vegas to get there. But, some Clark County officials are concerned those driving from California cannot do it safely and efficiently. They blame it on the prolonged widening of I-15 from Barstow to the Nevada state line, a project that was anticipated to complete nearly one year ago. In December 2021, former Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak and current California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the project, identifying the 113-mile stretch of road as “an economic lifeline corridor due to its role in the supply chain.” They added that 11 million Las Vegas visitors use it to get into town annually. “It should be done by the summer,” Sisolak said to reporters at the 2021 press conference. That expectation was never met, and drivers continue to pay the cost with their time.
  • Caltrans to begin Highway 1 street improvement project (Paso Robles Daily News). Caltrans is set to commence a $13 million construction project on Highway 1 in San Luis Obispo County. The major improvement project will span nearly seven miles, from the US 101 Interchange at State Route 1/Mattie Road in north Pismo Beach, through Pismo Beach, Grover Beach, and Oceano, and end just south of Valley Road near Gracia Way. Funding for the project includes $11.4 million in federal funds and $1.6 million from the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, also known as Senate Bill (SB) 1. CalPortland Construction of Santa Maria will serve as the contractor for the project.
  • Committee could reunite California neighborhoods (CalMatters). A new select committee in the California Legislature will explore ways the state can reconnect neighborhoods that decades ago were torn apart by interstates and highways. During the nation’s interstate highway construction boom in the 1950s and ’60s, numerous urban neighborhoods were sliced through, often isolating residential areas largely populated by minorities and low-income residents from surrounding communities — and from economic opportunity. More than 1 million people lost their homes, researchers have estimated. Federal transportation officials noted that in the first 20 years after the 1957 Federal Highway Aid Act launched nationwide highway construction, more than 475,000 households were displaced.
  • State to consider if dismantling Interstate 980 would repair damage to Black neighborhoods (East Bay Times). The arrival of $680,000 in federal funding could revive proposals to eliminate Interstate 980, the relatively little-used highway that separated West Oakland neighborhoods from the rest of the city when it opened almost a half-century ago. Map of I-980 in OaklandWith the grant funding in tow, state transportation department Caltrans will begin studying how those communities could be reconnected and if the highway could be replaced by a city street that’s less invasive to the mostly Black neighborhoods it divided. “For too long, I-980 has been a scourge on the East Bay: instead of bringing communities together, it has been a barrier to economic opportunity for the primarily Black neighborhood of West Oakland,” Congresswoman Barbara Lee said in a statement celebrating the new funding.

Read More …