California Highway Headlines for July 2017

July. The month for brush fires, roadtrips, and vacations. Also the month for highway work, and highway headlines:

  • Roadshow: Is there hope for the torturous trek over Pacheco Pass?. Q: I know it’s been a few weeks, but I am still recovering. It took me four hours to go from Mountain View to Interstate 5 on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend on highways 101 and 152. I knew it was going to be bad, but four hours? To go about 90 miles? Something must be done. HOV lanes? Yes! Toll roads? Yes! Eminent domain? Yes! We need a four-lane freeway from 101 to I-5. It is absurd to have a two-lane chokepoint like this on Highway 152 for millions of people in the South Bay. Is there any hope?
  • Isolated part of California’s Big Sur opens to public again. A portion of Big Sur which has been cut off since February by a collapsed bridge and a massive landslide is accessible again. Specifically, a public hiking trail that links visitors to popular tourist attractions in south Big Sur opened on Saturday. A daily shuttle takes visitors to the half-mile trail, which was initially built for locals to circumvent the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge after it was badly damaged by winter storms and had to be demolished.
  • More Than $34 Million Awarded to 125 Projects Under Cap-and-Trade Fund. Caltrans today announced that 125 local projects received $34.5 million in funding from the Low Carbon Transit Operations Program. These projects continue California’s effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the sustainability of public transportation systems around the state.

  • Several roads projects funded in and around Bakersfield. The California Transportation Commission has approved an $86 million increase to Caltrans’ State Route 99 Rehabilitation Project for next fiscal year, to be used to improve part of 24th Street at 99, according to City Manager Alan Tandy’s most recent weekly memo to the Bakersfield City Council.
  • Californians will soon pay more at the pump, in part to fix more than 200 bridges at risk of erosion. Scouting for evidence of erosion, the primary danger facing California’s highway bridges, is a life’s work for Kevin Flora. On a recent weekday morning, the state Department of Transportation engineer gunned the outboard motor of an inflatable skiff and scooted over murky water on a mission to inspect a 53-year-old 405 Freeway bridge that spans a stretch of the San Gabriel River — a spot loaded with trash and teeming with green sea turtles wide as manhole covers.
  • Bay Area voters may be asked to OK bridge toll hike of up to $3. Lawmakers, business leaders and staffers at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission have been quietly meeting at the state Capitol in an effort to draw up a proposal for a toll increase of $2 to $3 on the Bay Area’s seven state-run bridges. The goal is to have the measure in front of voters either in next year’s June primary election or on the November general election ballot.
  • With only one left, iconic yellow road sign showing running immigrants now borders on the extinct. So many immigrants crossing illegally into the United States through California were killed by cars and trucks along the 5 Freeway that John Hood was given an assignment. In the early 1990s, the Caltrans worker was tasked with creating a road sign to alert drivers to the possible danger.
  • Funding allocated for State Route 36 East project. The North State was allocated more than $11.5 million Monday to fund various projects, including $5.6 million going toward the State Route 36 East sidewalk and transportation project in Red Bluff spanning from the East Sand Slough Bridge to 0.6 mile east of Stice Road.
  • Caltrans I-5 SCV Repaving Project Starts Monday. The California Department of Transportation will paint new temporary lanes with lower speed limits on a section of Interstate 5, aka the Golden State Freeway, in the Santa Clarita Valley as a $171 million repaving project gets underway Monday night.
  • Mud Creek Slide ‘still active’ as Caltrans tries to figure out next steps. The Mud Creek Slide is “ongoing and still active,” Caltrans says in a new video explaining the situation before and after the “monumental” slide that added 15 acres of California coastline.Caltrans had been working on Highway 1 since January to maintain the road, but crews noticed an increase in activity three weeks before the landslide, resident engineer Rick Silva said. And as things accelerated, large rocks and debris made the road unsafe, and Caltrans closed it down, geotechnical engineer Ryan Turner added.
  • Opinion: High Desert Corridor project could transform California. What’s the fastest way to change California? Unless you have the power to set off a major earthquake, your best bet would be to connect Palmdale and Victorville. These two working-class desert cities aren’t often associated with economic and political power. But building world-class infrastructure to bridge the 50 miles between them might be the most powerful current idea in California.
  • Amador County says Sacramento growth plans will turn Jackson Highway into a parking lot. For nearly a century, ribbon-like Jackson Highway has connected urban Sacramento to bucolic Amador County in the foothills. Now, a fight over the future of the highway is dividing the two. Sacramento County has asked Caltrans to give it control of 8 miles of the two-lane road so the county can turn it into an urban arterial street that would function as the spine for up to 30,000 new homes in the coming decades, allowing the metropolitan area to march east as far as Grant Line Road.
  • Final environmental impact statement/report released for Highway 138 project between 5 and 14. The Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report (FEIS/R) for the Northwest 138 Corridor Improvement Project has been released for public review; view it online here. The two alternatives studied seek to make Highway 138 safer between the I-5 and SR-14 in the northern part of Los Angeles County — in particular by improving sight lines and bringing the highly-trafficked road up to modern standards.
  • Tunnel Upgrades on Foothill Freeway (I-210). Another I-210 freeway closure? Yes, that’s right. Sometimes closures can be tough and inconvenient, but they are necessary to maintain the state’s transportation infrastructure. Caltrans will bring new tunnel upgrades on the westbound I-210 to southbound SR-110 connector. The tunnel will be repainted and the lighting system will be upgraded to enhance safety. (note: they really meant SR-710)
  • When the Bayshore Freeway was the Bay Area’s ‘Highway of Tomorrow’. Try not to snicker. The Bayshore Freeway was once dubbed the Bay Area’s “Highway of Tomorrow.” Decades ago, when many of us were growing up around the region, some of today’s most-driven highways were either under construction or still only a part of planners’ imaginations. Thinking back to these times, I headed to The Chronicle’s archive and found proof that Highway 101’s Bayshore Freeway was once a considered a futuristic transportation innovation. Really.
  • Decoding Cats Eyes: A Global Color Guide To Reflective Road Markers. Raised pavement markers come in a variety of reflective colors, some of which (like white and yellow) have guessable meanings borrowed painted road line conventions. But there are other colors too (like blues and greens) that relay additional information to those in the know.
  • Snag could delay extra Richmond-San Rafael Bridge lane. Commuters might have to wait until March 2018 to see that third lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge open up, transportation officials said Monday. In January, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission approved a $27.2 million contract with Berkeley-based O.C. Jones and Sons Inc. to construct the third lane and associated work with a goal of opening the lane by November.
  • 3 Bay Area cities have worst maintained roads in U.S.. If you think San Francisco’s roadways are conspiring to flatten your tires and misalign your wheels, you’re not far off. According to a new WalletHub study, San Francisco and Oakland are tied with Fremont, Anaheim, Huntington Beach and Los Angeles for having the bumpiest, pothole-iest pavement in the country. And none of these cities can blame the weather for their woeful streets. There’s no snow to plow or black ice to salt.
  • The Richmond-San Rafael Bridge’s Troublesome New Lane. The Richmond-San Rafael Bridge is notoriously one of the worst commutes in the Bay Area. Now, a plan to add a third lane has hit a snag and the planned opening is in jeopardy. Richmond-San Rafael drivers have come to expect a rush hour delay, but the unexpected could keep them waiting even longer for relief.
  • Roadshow: Cheers! New interchange coming at 101-San Antonio. Q The on-ramp to Highway 101 south from San Antonio Road in Palo Alto is the shortest I’ve ever seen. It is unsafe at any hour, especially during commute hours due to the number of cars already on 101 in the right lane and the number of cars entering the highway and attempting to merge. Any plans to lengthen this ramp?
  • For years Alhambra, South Pasadena warred over 710 Freeway gap. Now they’re sitting down to talk.. For nearly 60 years, cities in the west San Gabriel Valley were defined by their pro or con positions on extending the 710 Freeway — a line in the sand that created tensions but little progress.
  • 10 Freeway toll lanes approved for across San Bernardino County. San Bernardino County will make its first foray into toll lanes. A 33-mile corridor will be built on the 10 Freeway and span much of the county, transportation officials decided Wednesday, July 12. The $1.8-billion project would add two toll lanes from the Los Angeles County line near Montclair east to Redlands. An auxiliary lane for traffic to weave in and out at ramps also will be added at various points along the general-purpose lanes.
  • Caltrans upgrading 132. Caltrans is currently working on projects to improve traffic flow and safety at two intersections on State Route 132 (SR-132).
  • Drivers beware: This stretch of I-10 near Coachella is one of the deadliest. When a 10-year-old Victorville boy died Wednesday morning after he was thrown from a 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan that crashed near Summit Road, it added to an alarming rate of fatalities that may make 2017 the deadliest year for I-10 through the Riverside County desert.
  • Mile Marker. June 2017.
  • State Route 49 Roundabout in Plymouth will be An Asset for Tourists, Residents & Businesses in Amador County. Times are changing in the town of Plymouth, which was established as a Gold Country mining camp in 1852. Now adjacent State Route 49 (SR-49) is changing, as well.
  • Mayors’ wish list: Widen I-15 between Barstow and Primm. A little teaming and scheming is brewing between Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. The mayoral duo recently met to discuss an array of mutual topics, including a desire to widen the two-lane stretch of Interstate 15 between Barstow and Primm — a feat Goodman and her predecessors have long sought as a way to reduce traffic congestion for Southern Californians driving to Las Vegas.
  • Proposed hike in Bay Area bridge tolls to pay for $4.2 billion in transportation upgrades. Bay Area voters may get the chance next year to boost bridge tolls by as much as $3 to pay for more than $4 billion in regional transportation projects, including $580 million earmarked for Sonoma and Marin counties. The potential funding would contribute to fixes for some of the North Bay’s most vexing roadway problems, including the Highway 101 Narrows in Novato and flood-prone stretches of Highway 37 across the top of San Pablo Bay.
  • I-680 express lanes set to open in early fall north of Pleasanton. Express lanes on the Interstate 680 just north of Pleasanton are nearing completion, scheduled to open in early fall, though a hard date has not yet been specified.
  • On Infrastructure, California Goes Back to Basics . For the first time since 1989, California lawmakers this year passed a gas tax hike. The increase — by 12 cents a gallon on gasoline and 20 cents a gallon on diesel — will pay for a decade-long building program that will cost $54 billion. California is one of many states this year to raise its fuel taxes, but the state’s sheer size makes the new transportation funding law significant. The Trump administration, by comparison, has broadly outlined a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure over a decade — only $200 billion of which would come from the federal government.
  • Carmageddon at the border? A 57-hour closure planned for southbound car lanes at San Ysidro.. Attention border crossers: For 57 hours in September, all cars will be barred from entering Tijuana through San Ysidro. Lasting from Sept. 23 at 3 a.m. until noon on Sept. 25, the closure is part of a plan by the U.S. General Services Administration to realign a portion of Interstate 5. The operation launches the third and final phase of the $741 million expansion of the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
  • Would a new carpool lane bring more cars to Highway 50 downtown? New lawsuit says yes.. An environmental group has sued Caltrans over the state’s plans to build carpool lanes on Highway 50 in downtown Sacramento, saying the state has failed to analyze the health impacts on local residents from potential increased vehicle emissions. The lawsuit, filed by the Environmental Council of Sacramento earlier this month in Sacramento Superior Court, is focused on the state’s plan to extend its existing Highway 50 carpool system west from Watt Avenue to Interstate 5. The freeway already has a set of carpool lanes running east from Watt Avenue into El Dorado County.
  • People keep leaping to their deaths from iconic Pasadena bridge. How do we stop them?. As you stand on the majestic Colorado Street bridge in Pasadena, high above the Arroyo Seco, it’s hard to imagine the depth of despair that would drive someone to jump. “There is hope,” says a sign on the east side of the Beaux Arts bridge. The sign includes a crisis hotline number and an appeal. “Suicide is not the answer. Make the call.”
  • Do you exit Highway 99 at Kansas Avenue to get into Modesto? Things could change. While a new expressway is coming to west Modesto, that does not mean everything has to change. The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors is expected Tuesday to give its support to rebuilding the Highway 99 southbound off-ramp at Kansas Avenue as part of the expressway project, which will serve as a new, roughly 4-mile route for Highway 132 from Dakota Avenue in west Modesto to Needham Street near downtown.
  • Carneros highway junction could have a (relatively) cheap congestion fix. Transportation planners are considering a relatively cheap fix to speed up traffic at the Carneros intersection of Highway 29 with Highway 12/121. No massive interchange is proposed to replace traffic signals at the T-intersection for Napa and Sonoma flows. Instead, the three-year-old idea is to add merge lanes, give some lanes a constant green light and reap a little congestion relief.
  • Highway 1 opens at Paul’s Slide in Big Sur, Mud Creek still being assessed. Caltrans reopened Highway 1 at Paul’s Slide Tuesday, meaning 35 miles of roadway is now open to the public between the massive Mud Creek slide in the south and the downed bridge to the north, though access remains only via Nacimiento-Fergusson Road.
  • I-8 construction between SR-111 and Barbara Worth Road. A five-mile section of Interstate 8 (I-8) will be reduced to one lane in each direction from approximately one-half mile west of State Route 111 (SR-111) to one-half mile east of Barbara Worth Drive beginning Thursday at 6 a.m., according to Caltrans.
  • 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 fourth in a series that reports on what’s happening behind the scenes.
  • Big Sur: Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge readying for girder launch within a week or two. Closing a gap that links two sides of the Big Sur coast is within striking distance as Caltrans and its contractors work tirelessly to bridge Pfeiffer Canyon. Within the next week or two, the girders that will support the 310-foot, single-span bridge across Pfeiffer Canyon will be delivered, assembled, then launched via rollers, from one abutment to the other, bringing the construction project closer to its September completion date.
  • Marin IJ Editorial: Longer wait for Richmond-San Rafael Bridge lane reopening. In 2015, Marin Assemblyman Marc Levine pushed a bill through the Legislature to speed up plans to reopen the third eastbound lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Bridge-bound traffic on weeknights and weekends had turned into a routine nightmare, often backing up traffic for miles, onto Highway 101, Sir Francisco Drake Boulevard and San Rafael streets.
  • State Transportation Leaders Expedite More Than $285 Million in SB 1 Road Repairs. The California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) and the Department of Transportation (Caltrans) today announced the fast tracking of “fix it first” construction work and increased road repairs across the state. Caltrans is able to jumpstart these road repairs thanks to the passage of the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (Senate Bill 1), recently passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor. Construction will begin this summer on 13 pavement projects across the state. Additionally, Caltrans has expedited the design of an additional 50 projects, which will also begin construction this fiscal year.
  • Recirculated environmental document released for I-710 Corridor Project; public hearing dates announced. A new set of alternatives to improve the 710 freeway between Ocean Boulevard in downtown Long Beach and the SR-60 was released today in an environmental document by Caltrans. One alternative would add a general purpose lane to the freeway, while another would also create a “Clean Emissions” freight corridor for use by zero emission or near zero emission trucks. Both alternatives propose other safety improvements to the freeway and interchanges, as well as air quality and health benefits for communities along the corridor.
  • A part of Highway 1 in Big Sur has reopened, but other issues remain on the coastal route. Big Sur got a bit of good news earlier this week: A 35-mile stretch of Highway 1 reopened to traffic after having been closed for months by a winter-storm landslide. The road at Paul’s Slide, near the town of Lucia, opened Monday as far south as Gorda, with a single lane handling one-way controlled traffic, according to a Caltrans statement.
  • Highway 33 project on Caltrans fast track. The California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) and the Department of Transportation (Caltrans) announced the fast tracking of “fix it first” construction work and increased road repairs across the state. Caltrans credited the rapid start to the passage of the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (Senate Bill 1), recently passed by the Legislature and signed by the Gov.Jerry Brown, a Caltrans spokesman said.
    Among the first is a $3.3 million project that will repair and resurface various sections of pavement on State Route 58 west of McKittrick in western Kern County.
  • Caltrans announces 13 road repair projects to begin in Long Beach, LA area. Work to repair and resurface hundreds of miles of highways, including those in Long Beach, the South Bay, San Gabriel Valley and Los Angeles area, will begin as soon as this summer – months before revenue from a landmark transportation bill even begins to flow to the state, officials announced Friday.
  • Threatened with rising waters, Highway 37 redesign could mean a toll. Local transportation leaders heard from the experts that elevating Highway 37 above rising sea levels is financially possible—if travelers pay a toll. The 21-mile-long highway runs from Vallejo to Novato through the Napa-Sonoma marshes. Estimated costs to elevate the road on a levee or causeway range from $1 billion to $3.4 billion in 2022 dollars, with costs rising in subsequent years.
  • Dixon Stretch Of Hwy 116 Slated For Resurfacing: State Officials. Three North Bay projects — in Dixon, Solano County and Sebastopol — are among 13 in the state that are on the fast track for road repairs this summer, Caltrans officials said Friday. The accelerated construction work is occurring in every Caltrans district in California and in rural, suburban and urban areas, according to Caltrans and the California State Transportation Agency.
  • Los Angeles County to Benefit From Expedited CalTrans Funds Ahead of “Gas Tax” Initiation. The controversial gas tax bill that became law earlier this year could have immediate local impacts according to plans released by CalTrans that would expedite funding to road repair projects in Los Angeles County. Senate Bill 1, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in April, is expected to raise about $5 billion annually through a 12 cent per gallon increase on taxes paid at the pump—it will rise to 19 cents by 2020— and a new vehicle registration fee (starting January 2018) ranging from $25 to $175 based on the type of vehicle. In total, the 10-year tax increase is expected to raise some $52 billion with the proceeds going toward addressing the state’s infrastructure backlog.
  • Rosemead sues Metro to force 710 Freeway extension back into courts. The 710 Freeway extension is heading back to court. Two months after the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board voted against building a tunnel from the freeway’s terminus near Alhambra to the 210 and 134 freeways interchange in Pasadena, the city of Rosemead filed a lawsuit asking the court to throw out that decision.
  • Novato Narrows Of Highway 101 Slow To See New Carpool Lanes. The Novato Narrows is a painful stretch of road for drivers and it’s felt like an endless construction project. Crews have been working to expand U.S. Highway 101 between Marin and Sonoma counties, creating 17 miles of continuous carpool lanes. If it feels like a long time coming, you’d be right.
  • Caltrans to Begin Repaving Project on State Route 88/Waterloo Road in San Joaquin County. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is preparing to begin a five-mile pavement improvement project on eastbound and westbound State Route 88 (SR-88)/Waterloo Road that will repave the existing roadway and shoulders from SR-99 to Comstock Road in Waterloo. This project will improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in San Joaquin County.
  • Caltrans Expedites More Than $285 Million In Road Repairs. The California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) and the Department of Transportation (Caltrans) announced the fast tracking of “fix it first” construction work and increased road repairs across the state. Caltrans is able to jumpstart these road repairs thanks to the passage of the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (Senate Bill 1), recently passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor.
  • Caltrans works to stabilize hillside, repair drains near Placerita Canyon Road off ramp. For the next month, residents and commuters can expect to see trucks and excavators working on a precarious hillside on the northbound 14 freeway just south of Placerita Canyon Road. The construction efforts are part of a Caltrans “emergency project” to repair damages to the freeway hillside caused by this year’s severe winter storms. “It is to remove some material from the slopes, material that was loosened in the winter storms,” said Miichael Comeaux, public information officer for Caltrans District 7. “It also involves repairing the drainage system along the slope that need some repair as a result of this storm damage.”
  • Opinion: If Congress allows 91,000-lb. trucks, California roads and bridges will crumble faster. Earlier this year, California’s governor and Legislature took an important step toward fixing California’s crumbling roads, highways and bridges when they passed SB 1, a $52 billion infrastructure funding package. The American Society of Civil Engineers have estimated that it costs each driver $844 per year in vehicle damage and wear and tear due to the deteriorated condition of the road network. SB 1 was an essential step in lowering these hidden costs and protecting transportation investments already made by Californians.
  • Highway 299 slide repair tops $27 million. The rock slide that has periodically closed a section of Highway 299 over the past couple of years has taken on mammoth proportions, racking up a $27 million price tag. “This is a very big project. It’s been extremely challenging,” said Matt Gowan, project manager for the California Department of Transportation.
  • Design of new Redwood City highway interchange begins. A plan to ease congestion at a Redwood City highway interchange moved into the design phase this week. The City Council on Monday authorized staff to pay AECOM Technical Services up to $7.9 million to design improvements for the Highway 101/84 interchange, which involves widening Woodside Road to add new lanes, building new ramps to and from 101 and adding sidewalks and bicycle lanes. The council also authorized paying Krupa Consulting up to an additional $335,000 to continue managing the project.
  • Public Notice: Initial study/Environmental assessment of proposed replacement of the Dr. Fine Bridge on US 101 in Del Norte County. The public comment period for the initial study/environmental assessment of our proposed replacement of the Dr. Fine Bridge on U.S. Highway 101 in Del Norte County begins tomorrow, July 29. We had initially planned to have the comment period start sooner, but one of our publishing partners had a scheduling conflict and was unable to advertise the comment period by the planned date. As a result, we are extending the public comment period to ensure that all interested parties are able to review documents and submit written comments to our staff. The comment period closes on August 28.
  • 15 Freeway toll lanes work to start next year, after $152 million loan. Plans to build toll lanes on the 15 Freeway from south of Corona to Jurupa Valley have received a major boost with the approval of a $152 million federal loan. The money from the United States Department of Transportation approved this month was the final piece of financing and clears the way for the Riverside County Transportation Commission to start construction of the 15-mile project early next year.
  • Temecula Parkway on-ramps to be closed at night for interchange project. Construction work will force the closure this week of northbound lanes on Interstate 15 in Temecula and on-ramps and off-ramps at the Temecula Parkway interchange, which is undergoing a dramatic transformation to smooth traffic issues in the southern part of the city. The bulk of the work, which involves roadway excavation for a retaining wall, is set for 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. through Aug. 3, according to a city release.

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