September Headlines about California Highways

userpic=roadgeekingNow that the September updates are past, it is time to start collecting headlines again. Here are the headlines about California Highways for September:

  • Work to Widen SR-91 Moves Into Full Gear, New Bridges Part of Project. Work is ongoing on a $1.4 billion project to widen State Route 91 from the Riverside County line in Corona to Pierce Street just past Interstate 15 interchange in Riverside. The stretch of freeway from Anaheim to Riverside ranks as among the nation’s worst commutes because of heavy traffic. Also, SR-91 is approaching 50 years old and the traffic demands now placed on it far exceed its original design from the early 1960s.
  • Cajon Pass Commuter: No plans to reconnect SR 39 to SR 2. As I mentioned last week, a reader prompted me to contact Caltrans about whether or not Highway 39 in the San Gabriel Mountains might be a future possible alternate route for Cajon Pass commuters in the event of the closure of Interstate 15.
  • Metering lights may help untangle 101 snarls. There’s a tired sports cliché that goes something like, “You can’t stop him; you can only hope to contain him.” That’s pretty much the situation when it comes to gridlock on Highway 101 in Marin County. It’s not improving anytime soon — those cars aren’t going anywhere — so the only thing left to do is try to manage it and make it somewhat less miserable.
  • Dignitaries celebrate $16.7 million in Highway 29 improvements in St. Helena. Local dignitaries and Caltrans representatives gathered in St. Helena Thursday morning for a ceremonial ribbon cutting celebrating improvements to Highway 29. The project included a new center turn lane to make left turns safer, wider shoulders, new railroad crossings, new underground utility lines to replace unsightly power poles, a long-planned traffic signal at Grayson Avenue, and safety improvements for cyclists.

  • Highway 138 East Alignment Project to start Tuesday. Caltrans has announced that the Highway 138 East Alignment Project, which will eliminate switchbacks and steep grades, will begin Tuesday. The $23 million project will straighten the roadway that leads into south Hesperia and toward Silverwood Lake from Interstate 15.
  • Judge’s ruling roadblock for plans to widen Highway 1 in Pacifica. The state’s plans to widen Highway 1 in Pacifica have run into a new legal roadblock with a federal judge’s ruling that Caltrans gave misleading information to federal officials about the project’s impact on two imperiled species, the California red-legged frog and the San Francisco garter snake. The state Department of Transportation assured the federal government that it had agreed to protect 5.14 nearby acres of the creatures’ habitat from development — without mentioning that the parcel had been already protected from development by a 1996 agreement between Pacifica and the California Coastal Commission, said U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria of San Francisco.
  • California Spent Billions Upgrading Bridges, But Some Now Need More Fixes to Brave Next Big Earthquake. California has spent billions of dollars over the past three decades retrofitting bridges in preparation for the next major earthquake, however, the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit has learned that nearly 200 bridges across the state – out of California’s system of more than 25,000 bridges – are still in need of major improvements.
  • Highway signs honor a beloved cowboy. New highway signs have been installed on a five-mile stretch of state Route 76 at the southern foot of Palomar Mountain in memory of a young cattle rancher who died three years ago. Two large signs marking the Joel Mendenhall Memorial Highway were placed Aug. 27 between South Grade and East Grade roads. A small ceremony was held Tuesday, attended by about 50 people including members of the Mendenhall family whose roots in the Palomar Mountain area go back to the mid-1800s.
  • Roadshow: Lawrence Expressway changes coming at I-280 off-ram. Q Are there plans to improve the ramp from north Interstate 280 to Lawrence Expressway? Traffic backs up onto I-280 because of the light at Stevens Creek Boulevard.
  • Richmond-San Rafael Bridge commute relief due in October 2017. Beleaguered commuters could see a third lane open on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge in October 2017. A final design to open a third eastbound lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge has been approved by Caltrans, clearing the way for a project to start once a builder is found.
  • Senate Bill to Preserve Historic Homes Alongside 710 Route. Senate Bill 580, legislation that would generate funding for affordable housing while preserving historical homes near the proposed 710 route, has cleared the legislature a unanimous vote. The bill, authored by Senator Carol Liu (SD – 25) and Assemblymember Chris Holden (AD – 41), now awaits Governor Jerry Brown’s signature.
  • HOV lanes opening on 805. Two new car-pool lanes will open on Interstate 805 near its merge with Interstate 5 later this month, as state transportation officials continue spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a high-occupancy vehicle network, even though commuters continue to prefer riding solo.
  • BEFORE & AFTER…PCH AND MUGU ROCK IN VENTURA COUNTY. These photos from Caltrans show Mugu Rock in 1939 and then in 1945. The roadway originally went around the outside or oceanside of Mugu Rock but it was narrow, dangerous and eroding away so they removed the portion that connected Mugu Rock to the hillside so PCH could run to the east of Mugu Rock as it does today.
  • Murals on new Antlers Bridge raise concerns for some. Driving along Interstate 5, they’re easy to spot. Four large fish murals can be seen on the side of the new Antlers Bridge project near Lakehead. However, once the old bridge is demolished, cars won’t be able to see the murals. Which has some people in Shasta County wondering, why even bother spending money on it?
  • Palm Ave: Local vs state control. A transportation assembly bill that recently passed in the state legislature could give Imperial Beach local control of its portion of State Route 75, a main thoroughfare into the small beach town. Also known as Palm Avenue, it connects the Silver Strand and Coronado. Assembly Bill 1500, passed by the house and senate last month, was introduced by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins and co-authored by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein in February 2015.
  • Avenue of Heroes Designated Blue Star Memorial Highway. Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) No. 163, the bill to designate State Route 282 the distinction as a Blue Star Memorial Highway has become law. The bill was sponsored by Speaker Emeritus Toni Atkins and supported by the National Garden Clubs Inc., Gold Star Families Memorial Markers arm of National Garden Clubs, with Coronado Bridge and Bay Garden Club and Avenue of Heroes Neighborhood Association (AOHNA). The Blue Star Memorial Highway designation will take effect on January 1, 2017.
  • I-80 Smart Corridor Project Finished, Activated To Ease Congestion. Flashy signs and metering lights are the new norm for commuters on one of the busiest vehicular corridors in the Bay Area. The changes are designed to keep traffic moving on a 20-mile stretch of Interstate Highway 80 from the Carquinez Bridge in the north to the Bay Bridge in the south.
  • Pedestrian-Bicycle Path Approved For Upper Deck Of Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. A four-year pilot project to open up a new eastbound vehicle traffic lane during afternoon peak hours on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge was approved Thursday by the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. Construction plans, which include adding a 10-foot-wide bi-directional pedestrian and bicycle pathway to the upper deck, are slated to begin this fall and should be finished within 12 to 18 months, according to Supervisor John Gioia, a member of the commission.
  • Richmond-San Rafael Bridge lane gets OK from bay overseer agency. It’s not often a new traffic and bike lane are created in a busy Bay Area corridor, but that’s what will happen on the increasingly busy Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. A key bay protection agency gave its approval Thursday for the addition of an eastbound, third traffic lane on the lower deck and a bike lane on the upper deck of the span. The Bay Conservation and Development Commission reviews all projects that are built in or over the bay and its approval was needed to allow the commute relief plan to move forward.
  • Laguna Beach is cold to the idea of adding bike lanes to Coast Highway. Brighter lights, intersections where pedestrians can cross from all corners at the same time and bicyclists who stay off Coast Highway are suggestions that city leaders offered in reaction to a study of the state highway conducted by the Orange County Transportation Authority and Caltrans.
  • Caltrans gives update as I-8 project continues. Heavy construction work along Interstate 8 in California between the Arizona state line and El Centro will be affecting drivers for some time to come, with the 7-mile segment just west of Yuma expected to be down to one lane in each direction until toward the end of 2017.
  • Expressway roundabout tussle may be winding down. One of the last remaining battles over potential paths for the future North County Corridor may be nearing an end, with momentum building for a tie-in with Highway 108 east of Oakdale at Lancaster Road. Dozens of families in neighborhoods four miles to the west for months have protested the concept of a roundabout at Atlas Road, with the North County Corridor shooting south from that point and paralleling Stearns Road before skirting Oakdale and running between Riverbank and Modesto.
  • To purchase Caltrans 710 Freeway homes, these renters divorce, delay retirement and avoid marriage. For some of the renters living in leafy, quiet neighborhoods straddling the borders of South Pasadena, Pasadena and a small sliver of Los Angeles, the chance to own the homes they’ve lived in for years has finally arrived. The myriad of clapboard bungalows, spacious Craftsmans and tall Victorians are owned by Caltrans. They’re located along the path of the defunct 6.2-mile, 710 Freeway surface-extension route, which would have run from El Sereno to Pasadena.
  • Why L.A. Has Clashing Street Grids. Los Angeles is a city with its vision so firmly pointed toward the future that traces of the past often escape its sight. Headlines proclaim new mega-developments downtown and transportation projects on the Westside. Even historical reminiscences of the city often focus on what was lost—hills, tunnels, and Victorian mansions—rather than what persists. But in fact traces of the past surround us, even in places where new construction has completely refashioned the surface of the city. Several distinct political and cultural regimes have passed through Southern California, and each has left its unique mark on the region’s built environment. The result—clashing street grids, along with errant boulevards defying the grids’ attempts at order—is a palimpsest of past cultural influences on the Los Angeles cityscape.
  • No Easy Solutions For The Bay Area’s Congested Roadways. If you think your daily commute is getting worse, you’re right. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, there are more than 160,000 new vehicles registered to owners in the Bay Area than there were in 2011.
  • New Caltrans Video Claims Widening 5 Freeway Is Good for Air, Congestion. In this new promotional video, Caltrans District 7 inexplicably proclaims that widening a stretch of the 5 freeway in southeast L.A. County will “reduce congestion” and “improve air quality.” The video, shown at Metro’s board and committee meetings recently, further boasts about “better safety” and how outsized new bridges over the freeway will each “dwarf the original bridge.” It goes on to herald Caltrans’ $1.9 billion project (funded by Metro’s Measure R) as a “21st-century transformation.”
  • State wants to use crystals and traffic jams to generate renewable energy. Los Angeles drivers spend up to 81 hours each year sitting in traffic, and as a state, California has plenty of gridlock to go around. Consequently, state officials are trying to make the best of a bad situation and turn some of those slowdowns into a source of renewable energy. As the Associated Press reports (via, the California Energy Commission will set aside $2 million for a study on whether the state’s roads can be engineered to harness untapped energy from motor vehicles with the addition of piezoelectric crystals.
  • This Californian Road to Nowhere Might Be the Best in the Country. We found it by accident. See, our plan called for a full day of driving and photography of the cars we were testing. Usually, photography in the LA area means you go to Malibu and then head up into the canyons or you go to Angeles Crest Forest and drive the amazing road there. We’ve driven Malibu a lot, but we rarely get up to Angeles Crest. I decided to rectify that and plotted out a route. We’d meet in Azusa, California for lunch, then drive out of town on Highway 39 to Angeles Crest Highway which would then take us to our end point, ICON Customs.
  • Golden Gate Bridge suicide barrier cost could rise to $198M. The project to build a suicide barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge could escalate to as much as $198 million and continues to be delayed as officials seek more money for construction. The bridge board voted Friday to formally delay the project until Jan. 9 so a funding plan can be revised. Bridge officials were stunned in July when bids came in almost double the $76 million estimate. Now span officials are noting the project could be as much as $198 million, but caution that that figure is likely high. It was included as a safeguard in a budget planning document to acknowledge the high-end cost of the project.
  • Golden Gate Bridge Officials Ask for More Time to Fund Suicide Barrier. The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District wants more time to come up with the funding for a long-discussed suicide prevention barrier. The district’s board of directors unanimously voted Friday to let its staff request a 90-day extension from the two firms that offered bids on the steel net that would be installed along the bridge.
  • Roadshow: Fix for 580/680 Interchange is in the Plans. Q Are there plans to improve the transition from Interstate 580 westbound to I-680 southbound? It would dramatically improve the lives of drivers in an entire region. … How long will we have to continue to endure the 580-680 interchange mess? … Please, give us hope.
  • The Mythology of HOT Lanes. In July Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe stood on the platform of a train station in Alexandria to announce that the U.S. Department of Transportation had granted $165 million for the Atlantic Gateway project. While this is a multimodal project featuring rail, bus, and highway improvements, it was clearly the latter that most enthused the governor. At one point during his remarks, he declared that because of the road projects, “Today, the congestion is going to end!”

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