Welcome to 2024, and your first headline post of the year. For those unfamiliar, this post generally contains headlines about California Highways that I’ve seen over the last month. It also serves as fodder for the updates to my California Highways site, so there are also other pages and things I’ve seen that I wanted to remember for the site updates. Lastly, the post also includes some things that I think would be of peripheral interest to my
highway-obsessed highway-interested readers.
The end of 2023 saw the posting of the next batch of website updates. This meant that, on the update front, things have been quiet as they are normally built starting with the headline post. With this posting, I’ll start work on the next round of updates. The end of 2023 also saw my posting of my plan for theatre reviews/writeups going forward; indeed, we’ve already seen three shows in January (Kate, POTUS, and Sukkot) and shows continue every weekend until late February, when there is a little break. Of course, that may change if something interesting comes across the transom.
Also on the horizon, posting-wise, will be my analysis of the Spring 2024 Sample Ballot. Having read through the Senate candidate statements, all I can say is that “Hoo-boy, this is going to be a doozy”. As a preview, the Voter Information Guide included a statement (and a disclaimer from the state) from an clear and unabashed racist. Welcome to California Primary season, where the kooks and nuts are on the ballot, in addition to being on the roads. But I will get to do my exploration of the Schiff vs Porter vs Lee. Given the offices I’ve already started to get advertising for, I expect this to be a multi-part post, although there is only one state proposition.
The podcast continues apace. We’ve recorded and released a few episodes, and will be recording another one next Monday. The scripts for the last two episodes in Season 2 are done (they are on Route 2). A short break, and then I’ll start researching and writing Season 3, covering Route 3 through Route 7. The most recent episode also prompted a friend at Caltrans to offer to do an interview to talk about Fastrak and tolling in California. We’ll likely do that as a bonus episode. As I write this, the most recent episode (according to Spotify, which doesn’t count direct downloads from cahighways/caroutebyroute) had 36 listens; the most popular season 2 episode (2.02, Route 1 in LA County) had 77 downloads, and the most popular episode overall ((1.01, the start of the chronology) had 154. Please tell your friends about the podcast, “like”, “♥”, or “favorite” it, and give it a rating in your favorite podcatcher. Yes, the sound quality of the episodes does get better — we were learning. As always, you can keep up with the show at the podcast’s forever home at https://www.caroutebyroute.org , the show’s page on Spotify for Podcasters, or you can subscribe through your favorite podcatching app or via the RSS feeds (CARxR, Spotify for Podcasters) . The following episodes have been posted this month:
- CA RxR 2.05: Route 1: Monterey, Santa Cruz, and the Santa Cruz Coastline. Episode 2.05 of California Highways: Route by Route, continues our exploration of Route 1 by exploring everything about the segment of Route 1 from Carmel in Monterey County to just N of the Tom Lantos Tunnels near Montara (in San Mateo Couny). This includes communities such as Carmel, Monterey, Seaside, Watsonville, Castroville, Aptos, Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz Coastline, Half Moon Bay, and Montara. As always, we go over the history of this segment of the route, the history of the route through various communities , the freeway plans, discuss relinquishments, names, and some current plans. We also talk in detail about the Devil’s Slide and the Tom Lantos Tunnels, as well as projects in Santa Cruz. (Spotify Link)
- CA RxR 2.06: Route 1: Pacifica and San Francisco. Episode 2.06 of California Highways: Route by Route continues our exploration of Route 1 by exploring everything about Route 1 from Pacifica, just N of the Tom Lantos Tunnels near Montara (in San Mateo Couny) to and through San Francisco up to the Golden Gate Bridge. This includes communities such as Pacifica, Daly City, and of course, San Francisco. As always, we go over the history of this segment of the route, the history of the route through various communities , the freeway plans, discuss relinquishments, names, and some current plans (although there’s not much in the relinquishment or plans area). As part of the freeway plans in the area, we include a discussion of the freeway revolt and some broader plans for San Francisco. (Spotify Link)
- CA RxR 2.07: Route 1ish: Golden Gate Bridge. Episode 2.07 of California Highways: Route by Route continues our exploration of Route 1 by exploring an interesting gap in the route: The Golden Gate Bridge (GGB). The GGB is not part of the state highway system, and thus (from the point of view of the state) not part of either Route 1 or US 101. It is part of US 101 per AASHTO, and is run by its own district. We’ll cover what was there before the bridge, the construction of the bridge, and current projects along the bridge (such as the singing bridge retrofit, the suicide barrier, and the earthquake retrofit. We’ll also discuss how one pays tolls on the bridge. (Spotify Link)
Looking forward, episode 2.08 will continue our exploration of Route 1 moving northward from the Marin Headlands to the Redwoods.
Well, you should now be up to date. Here are the headlines that I found about California’s highways for January:
[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. See this article for more tips on bypassing paywalls. 🎧 indicates an primarily audio article. 🎥 indicates a primarily video article. ]
- Upcoming Roadwork on Area Highways (Redheaded Blackbelt). The following scheduled roadwork [in Caltrans District 1] has been verified at the time of release. Please keep in mind work is weather permitting and subject to change.
- Highway 1 Closure: How Long Can Big Sur Businesses Endure? (SF Standard). About 100 miles south of San Francisco lies one of the most beautiful places in a beautiful state. Of all of California’s scenic highways—State Route 120 through Yosemite National Park, U.S. 395 behind the spine of the High Sierra, the 405 through Sepulveda Pass with nobody else on it—perhaps nothing compares to the stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway from Carmel-by-the-Sea south to Santa Barbara. And the most beautiful section of this is Big Sur, which has been cut off from the south for the past 11 months. On Jan. 8, during a period of atmospheric rivers, an enormous movement of earth at a spot called Paul’s Slide near the town of Lucia buried a two-mile segment of the coast highway. The landslide some 40 miles south of Big Sur’s lodges and redwoods forced not only the highway’s closure but, eventually, also required workers to terrace the slope and move the roadway itself.
- ＄ A new wildlife bridge is in the works across Interstate 8 for Peninsular bighorn sheep (San Diego Union-Tribune). Over the past decade, more than two dozen Peninsular bighorn sheep have been struck and killed while trying to cross I-8 in the rocky, mountainous region where San Diego and Imperial counties meet, though for various reasons that number is likely an under count of the actual death toll. In recent years, state wildlife officials identified that 13-mile stretch of freeway where the eastbound and westbound lanes split through a steep grade as one of the state’s most problematic barriers to wildlife movement. An effort is now underway, with a key first step completed earlier this year, to build one of the state’s first wildlife bridges along that stretch of I-8. The envisioned overpass, now in the planning stages after securing grant funding, would facilitate the natural movements of the estimated 790 or so members of the federally protected Peninsular bighorn species, which live between the U.S.-Mexico border and Palm Springs in the California desert.
- ＄ ‘Turbo roundabout’ south of San Jose is second of its kind in US (Mercury News). In the coming months, drivers in San Benito County will face a traffic pattern unlike anything else in the state: a three-lane rotary shaped like a stunted ninja star. This is only the second time the new design, called a turbo roundabout, is being implemented in the U.S. But if it meets its goal of reducing accidents at a crossroads with a history of harmful crashes, drivers across the country could be seeing more of them. The intersection of highways 25 and 156 near Hollister has been notoriously dangerous — the site of more than twice as many accidents as similar intersections in the state, resulting in multiple injuries. In particular, there have been an unusual number of rear-impact and T-bone collisions there. Caltrans had previously attempted several small fixes, such as changing the timing on the traffic signals and adding rumble strips going up to the signal. But after these failed to resolve the problems, the agency opted to create a special roundabout.
- A love letter to US Route 50, America’s loneliest highway (SF Gate). The essence of lonely is embodied after peeling off Highway 50 into a dusty parking lot at Middlegate Station, a pit stop in the Nevada desert about an hour from any cities in both directions. There’s a small wooden building that appears to have been standing for at least 100 years and near the front door a wooden plaque announces the official population — 17. (Although it’s clear that the number 18 has been scratched out.) I have a feeling the bar and restaurant may be keeping an accurate tally. Stepping inside, I simultaneously step back in time and saddle up to the bar for a drink and a burger. It could be some time before I see another opportunity to stop on the lonesome highway
- California debuts ‘turbo roundabout’ to fix troubled intersection near Bay Area (SF Gate). A troubled California intersection is now the site of a new, spiral-shaped road feature called a “turbo roundabout” — the first of its kind in the state, and only the second in the country. The new turbo roundabout appeared near the city of Gilroy at the intersection of highways 25 and 156, two roadways frequented by interregional commuters, travelers and agricultural workers. Caltrans told SFGATE that the intersection has an unusually high occurrence of collisions, even when compared with similar intersections across the state. Installing a roundabout was a natural solution, Caltrans spokesperson Jim Shivers said. “Wherever we have installed a roundabout, the number of collisions drastically decreases,” he said. “And this is pretty much true for roundabouts around the country.”
- Did You Know: Navigate Your Way to CSUN’s Massive Map Collection (CSUN Today). Did you know that in addition to more than 1.5 million books, 250,000 periodicals and 60,000 photos, CSUN’s University Library also boasts a Map Collection with more than 400,000 maps? They include geologic maps, traffic maps, tourist maps, zoning maps, topographic maps and planning maps of California, Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. There are even maps of areas and territories that no longer exist. Emilie Ducourneau is the curator of the collection that includes maps dating back to the 1700s. She notes that these documents serve as a snapshot in time — showing what was happening in a particular area at the time the map was drawn. [✒ Given that CSUN is about a mile from my house, and my wife is a CSUN Alum, I really need to make an appointment and go see this collection]