California Highway Headlines for October 2016

userpic=roadgeekingOctober. The start of the last quarter of the calendar year. By now, you’re sick of the election coverage, so let’s turn instead to something more interesting in the news — highway headlines!

  • How toll-lane network could cover five counties. As the 91 widening nears completion, Riverside County transportation officials are gearing up for their next major freeway expansion – adding toll lanes on Interstate 15. The Riverside County Transportation Commission recently marked two big milestones with the long-planned project to add two toll lanes in each direction on a 14.6-mile stretch of the 15 from Cajalco Road in Corona to Highway 60 at the San Bernardino County line.
  • Audio: California gives LA control over freeway-facing billboards: What’s next?. A state ban on billboards near freeways was recently lifted for a busy section of the 110 Freeway downtown, placing authority over roadside visual clutter in the hands of the Los Angeles City Council. Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 1373 into law on Friday. The bill, by Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, removes Caltrans authority over new standard and digital billboards for the east side of the 110 Freeway from Interstate 10 north to 8th Street.
  • Roadshow: Montague Expressway carpool lane gap to be filled. Q There’s a stretch on Montague Expressway in Milpitas without a carpool lane. When will that be fixed?

  • Caltrans isn’t planning more I-5 passing lanes. Can you ask Caltrans: Instead of adding another lane north and south on the entire 380-mile stretch of Interstate 5, which is too expensive, why not do 2- to 2.5-mile passing lanes where feasible every 15 to 20 miles? This will allow trucks and road boulders to move over and let others pass. It’s a lot better than putting up with dive bombers and waiting 15 minutes for a truck to pass another truck. Why hasn’t Caltrans done this?
  • Coronado’s Avenue Of Heroes Designated As A “Blue Star Memorial Highway”. Concurrent Resolution No. 163, the bill to designate State Route 282 the distinction as Blue Star Memorial Highway has become law. The bill was sponsored by Speaker Emeritus Toni Atkins and supported by the National Garden Clubs Inc., and 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 designation will take effect on Jan. 1, 2017.
  • State Route 246 Passing Lanes Project Update. A safety project to construct passing lanes in both directions on State Route 246 near Lompoc from Cebada Canyon Road to Hapgood Road (East) continues with earthwork in various locations within the project area.
  • Highway 49 Sunday Guardrail Repair Hopes to Decrease Traffic Impacts. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is alerting motorists to anticipate traffic delays Sunday, October 2 on State Route 49 just south of Grass Valley between Crestview Drive and Smith Road for guardrail repair work.
  • Drive across Bay Bridge tops list of Bay Area’s worst commutes. If it seems as if you’re spending more time behind the wheel than ever, it’s not an illusion. Since 2010, the amount of time Bay Area drivers endure crawling along in freeway congestion has soared 70 percent. That’s the highest level of “congested delay” — time spent in traffic moving at speeds of 35 mph or less — since traffic experts began keeping track in 1981. Those disturbing, if not entirely surprising, findings are included in the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s annual report released Monday on the Bay Area’s most-congested freeways — a report more commonly known for its rankings of the region’s worst commutes.
  • Roadshow: New ramp planned from I-280 to Winchester in San Jose. Q I know that you have written that there are long-range plans to redo the Winchester Boulevard intersection and possibly add additional ramps at Interstate 280. Is that project anywhere close to reality? Do you know if there is a cost estimate?
  • BLOOD ALLEY | Highway 126 remains a dangerous problem. Isaac Gonzales was driving on Sept. 16 when he crashed and died on Highway 126 west of Fillmore, making him the eighth fatality on the California state route in a seven-month time frame. The string of fatalities stretching along the 47-mile corridor began in February, when two were killed on Feb. 23. Three more deaths occurred in June, followed by one in July, one in August and Gonzales in September.
  • Sky-high costs put Golden Gate Bridge antisuicide net in doubt. It was all smiles and hugs in June 2014 when, after decades of debate, the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District board approved spending $76 million to install steel-mesh nets under the span to prevent suicide jumps. Since then, however, a big detour has come up that puts the whole project in doubt. That detour is the price: Two bids came in for the job, and the cheapest was $142 million — nearly double what the board expected.
  • Novato Narrows on Highway 101 one of the Bay Area’s most congested, study finds. Does it feel like the notorious stretch of Highway 101 south of Petaluma known colloquially as the Novato Narrows has become an even tighter squeeze? New data support that perception. The roughly 9-mile stretch from Atherton Avenue in Novato to East Washington Street in Petaluma ranked 40th on the list of the region’s 50 most congested freeway segments, compiled annually by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
  • Highway 101 bypass at Willits set to open, raising hopes and anxiety on Main Street. On the outskirts of this town that bills itself as the “Gateway to the Redwoods,” a $300 million bypass first proposed by road engineers 60 years ago to relieve Highway 101 traffic is now complete except for some finishing touches. The nearly 6-mile bypass skirts Willits to the east, and beginning Nov. 3 it will divert highway travelers around this city of roughly 5,000 situated in the heart of Mendocino County and along the main north-south route for commercial and vacation traffic.
  • Sausalito work over Highway 101 aims to prevent vehicles from flying off bridge. Above Highway 101 on the Waldo Grade in Sausalito, work crews are improving a decades-old overpass as part of a larger effort countywide to replace safety railings and prevent vehicles from crashing on roadways below. The Spencer Avenue overpass that leads to Wolfback Ridge was built in 1954, before SUVs and larger vehicles were commonplace. The higher profile, and sometimes heavier vehicles of today require stronger bridge railings, said Caltrans spokesman Steve Williams.
  • Bicycle Path along I-15. In the course of doing research on old US 395 and I-15 in the Miramar area, I came upon a very interesting set of plans. In 1979, a bicycle path was constructed along what is now Kearny Villa Road from Harris Plant Road to Carroll Canyon Road. While there are some details about this path still missing, such as why it was built, who was able to use it (being in a military base), and when it was closed. In time I hope to find these things out. In the meantime, I have the plans for the path itself.
  • Bay Bridge East Span Bike Path: It’s Done, but Not Open Just Yet. Cyclists and long-distance walkers, listen up: The bicycle and pedestrian path across the eastern span of the Bay Bridge is done. But hold on: The path from Oakland to Yerba Buena Island isn’t open yet — repeat, it’s not open — and won’t be until crews complete a few finishing touches on the island side of the route. The path is expected to open in the next two to three weeks, officials and bike advocates say, and an exact date could be settled on this week.
  • Work Resumes on State Route 371 Left Turn Lane Project with Requested Changes. The California Department of Transportation resumed work this week to complete the state Route 371 Left Turn Lane Project at Bahram Road that will include additional highway work requested by Anza residents in an Anza Valley Municipal Advisory Council meeting in July.
  • Highway 99 rated deadliest in nation, study says. Highway 99 in the Central Valley is the deadliest major highway in the country, according to an analysis released Thursday. The 400-mile highway that runs through the centers of Sacramento, Stockton, Modesto and other valley cities recorded 62 fatal accidents per 100 miles over a recent five-year span.
  • New tunnels in Santa Cruz Mountains will provide cougars safe passage. As cars whiz by below, Wyoming’s pronghorn antelope migrate safely across bridges built just for them. Underneath the Florida Everglades’ “Alligator Alley,” tunnels offer a low-lying route for Florida’s elegant and endangered panthers. And by the end of this decade, mountain lions, deer and other wildlife that live in the Santa Cruz Mountains will have their own protected passage across notoriously dangerous Highway 17 when Northern California’s first major “wildlife corridors” are constructed to cut down on road kills and enhance driver safety.
  • Caltrans considering a new plan to reopen Highway 39 all the way to Wrightwood. For nearly 40 years, reaching Wrightwood or the San Gabriel Mountains ski areas directly from the bedroom communities of the San Gabriel Valley by Highway 39 has been a dead end. A 1978 mud-and-rock slide took out a 4.4-mile chunk of the mountain highway about 27 miles north of Azusa, leaving a gap between State Route 39 and its more famous cousin, State Route 2, better known as Angeles Crest Highway.
  • New Bay Bridge on and off-ramps set to open next week. Drivers heading westbound on the Bay Bridge will now have new ramps to enter and exit Yerba Buena/Treasure Island starting next week, according to the San Francisco County Transportation Authority. Two new westbound on and off-ramps on Interstate Highway 80 taking drivers to and from the Bay Bridge and Yerba Buena/Treasure Island will open on the morning of Saturday, Oct. 22, SFCTA officials said.
  • To help cougars cross busy 101 Freeway, Annenberg Foundation promises to match donations for bridge. Building a cougar crossing over one of Southern California’s busiest freeways will cost tens of millions of dollars — funding that is unlikely to come any time soon from the state’s transportation kitty. So advocates have launched a campaign to raise private donations for a span over the 10-lane 101 Freeway in Agoura Hills that would provide safe passage to mountain lions and other wildlife moving between the Santa Monica Mountains and inland habitat.
  • Spate of crashes on I-5 curve prompts road-safety question. The drive toward Exit 707 is unremarkable. The section of Interstate 5 north of Lake Shasta looks no different from the rest of the forested area, with a few signs telling drivers they’re leaving the Shasta-Trinity National Forest and that they can “Adopt A Highway.” But one small stretch of roadway near that exit has had at least 10 semi truck crashes in the past two years — including four so far this month and three in the same month of 2014, a Record Searchlight analysis has found.
  • Caltrans commits $3.1 million to build wildlife tunnel under Highway 17. Caltrans has agreed to spend $3.1 million to help build a tunnel under Highway 17 in Santa Cruz County, a project expected to make the busy route safer for both wildlife and humans. The state’s commitment, announced on Thursday by its governing board, means that the design work at the site, called Laurel Curve, could begin in a few months. More than 350 animals of 82 different species, including 13 pumas, have been hit on Highway 17 in the last eight years, according to CalTrans data. Collisions are a risk to people, as well.
  • It’s Official: Caltrans Opens Full Bay Bridge Bike Path
  • No longer the Bay Bridge Trail to nowhere. For the first time since the new span of the Bay Bridge opened, bikers and pedestrians cycled and walked from Oakland to Yerba Buena Island on the Bay Bridge Trail, the bike path built along the bridge. Caltrans opened up the final segment Sunday connecting the East Bay to the island, welcoming weekend adventurers to explore the island by foot and bike. The San Francisco Transportation Authority offered free shuttles to bring bikers and walkers safely from the end of the bridge down to Treasure Island, although most people opted to ride down Treasure Island Road despite the lack of a designated bike lane.
  • Westbound Bay Bridge drivers exiting to islands must change sides. Drivers speeding — or creeping — westbound across the Bay Bridge have grown accustomed to taking an odd, and short, left exit to get to Yerba Buena and Treasure islands. Starting Saturday, they’ll have to break that habit and take a new ramp on the right. A day later, bicyclists and pedestrians will finally have their own path to Yerba Buena Island across the Bay Bridge. Caltrans announced Friday that the path’s final stage — the island entrance — will open at noon Sunday.
  • How would you fix the 605 Freeway? Caltrans, Metro want to know. Driving the 605 Freeway has been called a lot of things, few of them complimentary. Positive feelings toward the thoroughfare are especially few and far between on Yelp, the website usually reserved for amateur restaurant reviewers. Here, the reviews of the 605 are quite scathing, indeed.
  • The Mile Marker: A Caltrans Performance Report. In this issue: Mile Markers • Project Delivery Report • State Budget • Spotlight: Tex-Wash Bridge • Collision Data Report • Sustainable Freight Action Plan • Transportation Art Program • California Transportation Plan 2040 • Small Business/Disabled Business • Water Conservation • Wrong-Way Collision Countermeasures • From the Archives
  • It’s finished! After nearly 3 years, 101-23 interchange opens. It took nearly a year longer than anticipated, but Ventura County’s largest freeway undertaking in recent history is finally coming to an end after 32 months of construction. Caltrans, along with the City of Thousand Oaks and Ventura County Transportation Commission, will host a dedication ceremony Nov. 1 to mark the completion of the Route 101-23 Interchange Improvement Project, a nearly $40-million effort to ease congestion at one of the region’s most notorious bottlenecks.
  • Construction of Barstow Route 66 signs to begin next month. Construction of eight classic-car-themed Route 66 signs will begin within the next two weeks in Barstow, California. The Desert Dispatch newspaper reported the signs will place vehicles popular on Route 66 during the 1950s through the 1970s on a masonry base.
  • Grand Plans to Unclog Highway 101 in Silicon Valley. How many hours do you plan to spend in traffic in a week? There are plans to reduce your commute time and it includes changing some lanes on U.S. Highway 101 in Silicon Valley. Caltrans, the San Mateo County Transportation Authority and other agencies are set to discuss a plan Thursday to link “managed lanes” on U.S. Highway 101 in Santa Clara County to new ones in San Mateo County.
  • Caltrans plans changes to Highway 36 in Red Bluff. State road officials will detail their ideas and plans to rework Highway 36 near the northern tip of Red Bluff during the City Council meeting Tuesday evening. The work would realign Highway 36 between where it and Main Street split in north Red Bluff and where it intersects with Baker Road, said Clint Burkenpas, project manager with the California Department of Transportation in Northern California.

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