California Highway Headlines for February 2015

userpic=roadgeekingIf you’re reading this post, one of two thoughts are going through your mind. You might be thinking, “Wait a minute‽ I thought this was a blog about theatre.” If that’s you, calm down. I talk about many things in the blog — not just theatre — but I’m going add something just for you at the end. Alternatively, you might be thinking “About damn time. This is a site about highways, and we’ve had precious little highway stuff.” To you, I would agree. A lot of that is due to the changing budgets — we’re seeing less funds for roads, and the nature of work funded today tends not to be the work that reaches the threshhold for the highway pages. February has been a quiet month. So let’s go through what few headlines I have, and then I want to alert you to an issue of interest to everyone — and I’ll connect both highways and theatres! I promise!

  • Caltrans Making Case To Implode Part Of Old Bay Bridge. Part of the old Bay Bridge may be brought down with explosives. Caltrans says the explosives would be used to remove a large concrete pillar from the old eastern span.
  • Richmond-San Rafael Bridge closer to getting new lane, bike path. An extra lane of traffic and a new bike path are a vote, and about three years, away from coming to an increasingly congested bay crossing — the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. A committee of the Bay Area Toll Authority approved $4.65 million in funding Wednesday to complete the design of a new eastbound lane and a bike and pedestrian lane in both directions. The full board is expected to approve the plan when it meets Feb. 25.
  • Say Goodbye to Those Pretty Lights on the Bay Bridge . If you notice a pall cast over San Francisco next month, it’s because it will be literally darker here after the famous Bay Lights are turned off — for now. Known for its luminosity and picture-perfect profile, the brilliant display, which consists of 25,000 LED white lights running 1.8 miles across the western span of the Bay Bridge, was installed in 2013, making it the world’s largest LED light sculpture.
  • The Story of the Cahuenga Pass. The story of Cahuenga Pass is featured on the cover of this 1949 issue of California Highways.

I Support 99 Seat Theatre in Los AngelesTheatre and highways: a lovely pair. From the Road Theatre Company in North Hollywood to the Route 66 Theatre in Chicago; from classic stories about the road such as “The Grapes of Wrath” (which takes place along Route 66 and off Route 99) to more modern parodies such as “CHiP: The Musical” (which played the Falcon — itself near Route 134 — a few years ago). Here in Los Angeles there are loads of small theatres directly on or near streets that used to be state highways: From REP East, on former Route 126; the large cluster of theatres along Lankersheim Blvd (the former state route that became Route 170); the Odyssey Theatre complex along former Route 7 (what become I-405) in West LA; to the theatre district along Santa Monica Blvd (former Route 2 and US 66) in Hollywood. These are all 99 seat and under theatres, and they are theatres whose existence is threatened by a proposal from AEA. This proposal would require these theatres to pay their actors minimum wage for rehearsals and performances, raising their costs overnight at least 10 fold — or more, depending on the number of AEA actors. On the surface, the union is doing this to protect “the dignity of actors” (even though the actors in Los Angeles do not want it); underneath, the real reason may be buried in the small print: if the theatre treats the actor as employee and there is an AEA contract, the AEA gets paid its fees first (whereas it gets little now). The larger community — from actors to producers to stage managers to creatives to audiences are saying, collectively, “Change is needed, but not this change.” We want to rework how intimate theatre is done, but not with this heavy handed solution forced from non-Californians. Learn more about the controversy at the I Love 99 website, and follow their Facebook group and Twitter feed.  If you are an AEA member, vote “No” (and tell your friends). If you are not, spread the word.