California Highway Headlines for January 2017

Welcome to 2017 — a new year. Whether it will be a better year I can’t say, as we are in tumultuous times. But I have been collecting headlines about California. One note: This has been an exceptionally rainy month for California, and there have been many headlines about road closures due to weather-related road damage. I’m not including those in the list below, because they will quite likely be overtaken by events by the time I go to update my pages. Hopefully. But to give you an idea on some of the roads that are or have been closed due to the storms: Route 1, Route 17, Route 18, Route 23, Route 26, Route 27, Route 37, Route 41, Route 59, Route 74, I-80, Route 84, Route 118, Route 128, Route 158, Route 178, Route 182, Route 198, Route 269, Route 299, US 395. The preliminary damage total was $158 million.

So here are some longer-impact headlines:

  • Westside Parkway in Bakersfield, CA. Here is a link to a site with photos and information about the new construction on the Westside Parkway in Bakersfield, CA.
  • Median barrier on Golden Gate Bridge repaired as system marks two years. Crews repaired the Golden Gate Bridge’s movable median barrier Tuesday after it sustained damage sometime the day before from a passing vehicle on the Marin side of the span. Two lanes were closed for about an hour on either side of the barrier during the repair, which occurred at about 10:30 a.m. Golden Gate Bridge crews noticed the damage to the unit at 1:30 p.m. Monday during a lane configuration change.
  • Horgan: Resolve to avoid Highway 92 if you can. New Year’s resolutions are easily broken. But here’s one that has real immediacy for those on the Peninsula: Avoid Highway 92 if you can. It has become, for all intents and purposes, our horrible “Highway From Hell.” Specifically, stay away from it during weekday commute hours east of Interstate 280. Of course, that’s easier said then done.

  • Building the Wall: Highway Sound Barriers and the Evolution of Noise. When I was a little girl, my parents took us to Washington, DC to pay a lengthy visit to the Smithsonian, some historical monuments, and other sites. In the car, we zoomed past miles of acoustic barriers my childish mind registered as some kind of giant band-aids. The image of the endless walls lining the sides of the interstate continues to fascinate me even today, as a young adult and a graduate student in acoustics.
  • Assemblyman pushes to rename L.A. freeway after Vin Scully. Longtime Dodgers baseball announcer Vin Scully already has a Presidential Medal of Freedom and an avenue named in his honor. But if one legislator has his way, Scully’s name could soon grace an L.A. freeway that passes by Dodger Stadium, where the veteran broadcaster announced games for more than five decades before retiring in October.
  • Highlights from CHS’s Cartographic Collection . Fifty-two nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century maps of California have been added to the California Historical Society’s new Digital Library. The images represent a sampling of unique or uncommonly held titles ranging geographically from an 1863 map of the copper region of Del Norte County in the north, to a circa 1866 Topographical Map Showing the Locations of the Sutro Tunnel and the Comstock Lode, to a colorful 1913 townsite map of Date City (now called Calipatria) in Imperial County in the south. In between are city, county, mining, real property, water-supply, road, and railroad maps of various localities throughout the state.
  • What’s Keeping Those Freeway Interchanges Up In An Earthquake?. Nearly 23 years ago, on January 17, the Northridge earthquake gave Los Angeles its last good rattle. The magnitude 6.7 quake left north of $41 billion in damages across the region, including nine bridges felled across the Southland. One of the most famous (and photographed) of these failures was the Newhall Pass Interchange connecting the 5 and 14 freeways. The overpass’s collapse killed LAPD motorcycle officer Clarence Wayne Dean, for whom the interchange is officially named for today.
  • Richmond-San Rafael Bridge lane addition project underway. Work on a project to create a third eastbound lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to ease traffic has started and could be finished by fall. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission approved a $27.2 million contract to Berkeley-based O.C. Jones and Sons Inc. to construct the third lane and associated work and that began last week.
  • Tried taking Highway 94 east off the 125 south lately?. A driver’s November 22, 2016, email to the San Diego Reader asking about “state land for sale” signs, visible to drivers taking State Route 125 through La Mesa just north of State Route 94, led to information about the land and about Caltrans’ plan to build a transition road linking southbound 125 to eastbound 94. Contacted on November 23, the same driver said, “I drove by today, and the signs are down. It’s the area mostly on the east side of 125 just north of Panorama and Echo drives.”
  • The old Dumbarton Bridge: Did you see it fall into the bay?. On the 90th anniversary of its opening, we remember the original Dumbarton Bridge, the first automobile span across the San Francisco Bay. And, perhaps sadly, what we remember best is the day of its demise. Just before 3 p.m. on Sept. 23, 1984, the 222-foot-long main span of the old bridge went tumbling into the bay. After six hours of delays, the crowd of 2,000 spectators that had gathered for the demolition had dwindled to about 200. What they saw was a bright flash from 176 explosive charges, a dark cloud of smoke and dust, and then the splash as 600 tons of debris fell into the water.
  • Steel from the Old Bay Bridge Getting a New Life in Art. What would you do with a few tons of steel left over from the demolition of the eastern span of the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge? Well 15 artists and design teams will get a chance to build, among other things, playful structures on Treasure Island, artwork just north of the Ferry Building, a sundial at Laney College, a sculpture near the Petaluma River and the platform for a miniature railroad in Truckee.
  • California drivers: Say goodbye to the Botts Dot, the bump that made your car go thump. California’s iconic Botts Dot, the bump that warns you’re drifting out of your lane, has reached the end of its road. After more than a half century of service, the safety device created by Elbert Botts in a Sacramento lab and once described by a state official as a loyal old dog, is expected to be relieved of duty sometime this year. The classic white ceramic dot, a notable innovation in its day, appears to be a bad fit as a lane marker in the emerging new world of driverless cars that rely on cameras, radar and computers to “read” and understand lane lines.
  • Building suicide-prevention net to take 4 years. Construction on the Golden Gate Bridge’s long-delayed suicide prevention net is expected to take four years and could disrupt traffic at times, officials said Thursday. A committee of the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District, the iconic structure’s governing body, recommended an allocation of $2 million to the California Highway Patrol to facilitate traffic flow while workers install the net. The project is expected to start this year and finish in 2021.
  • Bike barrier, birds boost cost of Richmond-San Rafael Bridge work. No sooner did work begin on adding a traffic and bike lane to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge than the project ran into some unexpected twists — both big and small. First the big.
  • Safety improvements on Highway 273 get closer look. Preliminary collision figures show 2015 — the most recent available — was the deadliest year for people who traveled on Highway 273. Of 28 reported collisions on the corridor stretching from north Redding to Anderson, seven people were killed and 37 were injured, according to data compiled by the University of California, Berkeley Transportation Injury Mapping System.
  • How Lake Elsinore, Riverside County may take control of Highway 74. All 10 miles of Highway 74 between Interstates 15 and 215 will come under local government control if a state panel acts on the recommendations of transportation officials. Perris already possesses the 1 1/2-mile section of the state highway west of the 215 freeway in that city. The California Transportation Department is now poised to turn over the 8 1/2-mile stretch between Perris’ western border and the 15 freeway over to Riverside County and Lake Elsinore.
  • Rumble strips planned on Highway 371 in Anza. Caltrans announced it will constructing rumble strips on the existing shoulder and centerline of Highway 371 in Anza from Wilson Valley Road to Cary Road and from Kirby Road to State Route 371/74 starting in 2018. Rumble strips on highways are designed to let motorists know when they are drifting out or into the opposing lane or into the shoulder.
  • The La Habra or Huntington Beach Freeway (what I guess today would be called ‘The 39’) was part of the 1950s-era grid plan for L.A.’s freeway system. It would have paralleled old SR-39: Azusa Ave. in the SGV, continuing south along Beach Blvd. to the coast. This map from 1970 shows roughly where the proposed freeway would pass through Covina, West Covina and La Puente. Does anyone remember why this freeway never got built? Was it NIMBY, or just lack of funding? Or maybe a combination of both?
  • The Highway Hit List. The U.S. has no shortage of urban interstates ripe for removal, and some tear-downs are already underway. But planners should tread carefully when “reconnecting” neighborhoods.
  • Report: Oakland’s I-980 on national ‘top ten’ list for teardown. Constructed as a highway to a bridge that was never built, Interstate 980 in Oakland was identified in a report released this week as one of the top 10 candidates across the country to be torn down. The call by a national urban planning nonprofit comes at a time when the city of Oakland is in the process of drafting a development plan for downtown Oakland, which discusses the conversion of I-980 into a boulevard.
  • Hummingbird nest halts upgrades on Bay Area bridge. The discovery of a hummingbird’s nest with an egg inside is stalling upgrades on a San Francisco Bay Area bridge. KCBS reports Tuesday that the backhoes are waiting and the safety barriers are ready. But work on a key part of the $70 million Richmond-San Rafael Bridge’s upgrade project has been put on hold.
  • OCTA and Caltrans Construction Projects Move Forward on I-5. Construction crews will be closing the loop on-ramp from westbound Camino Las Ramblas to southbound I-5 for an extended period, beginning Friday, February 3. The ramp closure is part of the $230 million I-5 South County Improvements Project, which extends the carpool lanes from San Juan Capistrano to San Clemente.
  • The I-405 Improvement Project: Behind the Scenes. The largest project in OCTA’s history, the I-405 Improvement Project will improve 16 miles of I-405 and add one regular lane in each direction from Euclid Street to I-605. It will also construct the 405 Express Lanes from SR-73 to I-605. This is the first part of an ongoing series that reports on what’s happening behind the scenes.