California Highway Headlines for January 2016

userpic=roadgeekingAh, a new year. Let’s see what it has to bring in terms of highway news:

  • Transforming the end of the 2 Freeway could be the beginning of a new L.A.. Around the country, cities are demolishing stretches of highway, turning them into parks or boulevards. Los Angeles has an opportunity to do something even more dramatic: to close a piece of elevated freeway to traffic but keep it intact as a huge platform for new open space and housing. In a single gesture, the city could produce significant parkland and a monument to the ambition that produced the Southern California highway network in the first place. The stretch I have in mind is the stub end of the 2 Freeway as it bends south and west from Interstate 5 and dips into Silver Lake and Echo Park, two miles or so from downtown Los Angeles.
  • A List of Things That Spilled on SoCal Freeways in 2015. February 2: Frozen chicken, 10 Freeway. February 20: diesel fuel, 710 Freeway. …
  • Reconnected Route 66 in Cajon Pass may open soon. A part of the Interstate 15/215 interchange project that would reconnect a portion of old Route 66 in San Bernardino County, California, was slated to be finished by May. But a new report in the Victorville Daily Press indicates it will reopen early this year.

  • Highway 37 mystery mounds are part of habitat restoration. “Do you know what is going on next door to the Cullinan wetlands restoration project on Highway 37? There are several earth mounds and little huts. We wonder each time we drive by. Hope you can help us solve this mystery.”
  • Mercury News editorial: Legislature must fix California’s roads. Every year California lawmakers waste arguing over a fix to the state’s deteriorating roads costs each individual driver about $1,200 in additional repairs, increased gas use and tire wear. It makes a mockery of legislators’ six-month debate over whether drivers could afford to pay about $10 a month more to solve the problem. Six months have passed since Gov. Jerry Brown called for a special session of the Legislature to deal with this. But he failed to lay the groundwork for a solution during that session, so Californians are still waiting for the Sacramento gridlock to end. Even Republicans and Democrats in Congress stopped fighting long enough last month to pass a $305 billion federal transportation bill, including about $5 billion a year for California.
  • Golden Gate Bridge lane changes to greet commuters in new year. Commuters who travel on the Golden Gate Bridge during weekday afternoons will be greeted with a new lane setup in 2016, officials said. The current configuration of four northbound lanes and two southbound lanes will be altered slightly beginning Jan. 4. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, there will be three southbound and three northbound lanes on the span — a move the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway & Transportation District made after analyzing traffic data. The change comes after the bridge district decided in September to consistently go with four northbound lanes as part of a pilot project.
  • Roadshow: Is Highway 4 the ‘most interesting highway’ in California?. Q I think of Highway 4 as the most interesting highway in California. From Hercules on the bay eastward, it is progressively a freeway, a city street, two lanes through the Delta, a four-lane freeway through Stockton, a two-lane farm road through the valley and hills, and a one-lane mule track through the Sierra.
  • Bridge demolition will close 101 Freeway for 40 hours in February. The 101 Freeway through downtown Los Angeles will be closed for two days at the beginning of February as construction crews demolish a portion of the 6th Street Viaduct, officials said Friday. A rare chemical reaction inside the iconic 84-year-old bridge is causing it to slowly crumble, and crews have been working for months to begin the demolition process. A portion of the bridge passes over the 101 and cannot be removed with traffic zooming underneath, officials said.
  • Caltrans I-680 rehab project complete. It’s done — the construction of the Interstate 680 Rehabilitation Project between Fairfield and Benicia, that is, and ahead of schedule. The $13 million California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) project rehabilitates and repaves about 13 miles of northbound and southbound I-680 and also improves safety for the 100,000 or so daily motorists traveling this busy route between the Bay Area and Sacramento.
  • Sacramento-area freeway builder drops out of I-80 project. The lead contractor on a $133 million expansion and rehab of Interstate 80 in north Sacramento has been forced to step aside due to financial difficulties, company officials said Monday. C.C. Myers Inc., a Rancho Cordova-based construction company, turned control of that project and several other projects in Northern California over to partnering companies on Jan. 1, company President Steve Francis said.
  • Regional transportation plan backs 710 tunnel extension . Cities belonging to the 710 Coalition have come out in support of the draft 2016 regional transportation plan by the Southern California Association of Governments. The draft calls for connecting the Long Beach (710) Freeway to the Foothill (210) Freeway in Pasadena via a tunnel.
  • Can Pacific Coast Highway withstand El Niño? Officials pour millions of dollars into creative engineering to make sure it does. When El Niño storms hit Southern California, Pacific Coast Highway is the first line of battle between man and nature. This scenic ribbon of asphalt, sandwiched by steep mountains on one side and ocean on the other, has fought with rock slides and erosion since it was built almost a century ago.
  • How We Roll, Jan. 20: 710 North project, transit versus climate change. The advocacy group U.S. Public Interest Research Group says the freeway tunnel alternative for the SR 710 North project “would be the most expensive, most polluting and least effective option for addressing congestion problems.”
  • 710 Freeway tunnel included in report’s top 12 boondoggle highway projects. A national consumer watchdog group listed the 710 tunnel extension project as one of 12 highway boondoggles that represent a waste of taxpayer dollars, outdated thinking and misplaced national transportation priorities, according to a report released Tuesday. “Highway Boondoggles 2” from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, is the second such report from the group in two years targeting future highway projects in the country. This list includes $24 billion in projects that the group finds questionable and too expensive.
  • Plans progress for wildlife crossing – LIBERTY CANYON CROSSING. Caltrans and the National Wildlife Federation hosted a pair of meetings last week to inform residents about the options for a new wildlife crossing in Liberty Canyon. The first session filled the room at the Agoura Hills City Hall on Jan. 13. The following day, some 300 people attended a meeting at King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas.
  • I-580 express lanes to open in mid-February between Dublin and Livermore. Toll lanes on Interstate 580 from Dublin to Livermore will open in mid-February, hopefully easing traffic on one of the Bay Area’s most congested freeways by allowing solo drivers with FasTrak to pay a fee for a more dependable commute. This marks the biggest expansion of using carpool lanes as express lanes in the region, with two lanes eastbound and one lane westbound for 12 miles or 36 miles in total. The express lanes will operate from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays. At other times, they’ll be open to all drivers.
  • CORONA: I-15 closures extended to mid-February. Nightly closures of I-15 south at the Highway 91 interchange in Corona are in place until Feb. 12, county transportation officials said. The closures began Jan. 19, and will allow crews to set up temporary supports for a bridge that will eventually serve as the new express lane connector between I-15 and the 91.
  • CORONA: Proposed 91 full closure reflects statewide trend. Long freeway closures like the one planned for Corona next month are increasingly becoming the choice for addressing thorny construction challenges despite the headaches they cause, transportation officials and experts say.
  • Highway Boondoggles: California’s 710 Tunnel . A proposal to drill a pair of highway tunnels is the most expensive, most polluting, least effective option for solving the San Gabriel Valley’s transportation problems. A highway linking I-710 from Alhambra to I-210/ SR-710 in Pasadena was first proposed in the late 1950s. Ever since, efforts to build the highway have run into obstacles including insufficient funding, high environmental impact, and community objections.
  • Another ‘Carmageddon’ coming next month? Stretch of 91 freeway may close for a weekend. Most lanes in a 6-mile stretch of the Inland area’s busiest freeway may close for an entire weekend next month. Transportation officials may shut nearly all of the 91 in Corona between the 71 and I-15 from 9 p.m. Feb. 19 to 4 a.m. Feb. 22.
  • New long-range plan update web page is live. Attentive readers know that Metro is in the midst of updating its long-range plan and is considering a potential ballot measure in November to raise funds to build more transportation projects. The page includes a project tracker to see the status of various projects that are being built (or have been built) with funds from Measure R, the half-cent sales tax that Los Angeles County voters approved in 2008.