Headlines about California Highways: December 2017

It’s the last week of the last month of the year, so guess how that means I’m spending my Christmas? That’s right, doing highway updates before I go out for Chinese Food and a movie. I’ve already processed the October and November headlines, which means I now need to post the December headlines so I can process them. I should have the updates completed, and ready for upload and posting, by the end of the year. Here are your headlines:

  • Hemet City Council attempts to go over Caltrans’ head in median strip protest. A letter written in the strongest terms with supporting data objecting to Caltrans plans to erect a median strip on Florida Avenue is being sent to the state transportation department by the Hemet City Council, following a contentious council discussion Tuesday, Nov. 14. The issue with Caltrans plans to build the median strips in the middle of Florida Avenue from West Acacia through the downtown area and to the eastern city limits has been the subject of controversy between Caltrans District 8 project manager and engineers and the city for months.
  • Westside Parkway and the Centennial Corridor; Future California State Route 58. After completing California State Route 43 I doubled back north to Stockdale Highway to check out a major highway construction project which will eventually reroute CA 58; the Westside Parkway and Centennial Corridor.
  • California State Route 204; Former US 99 in Bakersfield. After finishing the Westside Parkway I swung onto California State Route 58 eastbound. I pulled off on California State Route 204 to take north through the city of Bakersfield.
  • California State Route 65; South Segment. After leaving Bakersfield I decided to take a mountain side way back to Fresno and turned off CA 99 onto the southern portion of California State Route 65.

  • Roadshow: New Interstate 680 lane has Sunol Grade drivers doing cartwheels. Q: About damn time they are adding a new northbound lane on Interstate 680 over the Sunol Grade. This should have been priority No. 1. No reason at all that we’ve had four lanes going south and only three north for the last few years. Getting home to your family and home life is way more important than getting to work.
  • Napa tries to bring a little traffic relief to busy Highway 29 section. Frustrated motorists may find driving in coming weeks a little more bearable along the Highway 29 traffic signal gauntlet of Salvador, Wine Country and Trower avenues. Changes came earlier this year with a new Napa Valley Vine Trail segment sandwiched between Highway 29 and adjacent Solano Avenue. Trail users cross Salvador, Wine Country and Trower avenues and traffic lights were added to help them do so safely.
  • Roadshow: Express Lanes, Caltrain main hopes for Highway 101 commute. Q: I drive Highway 101 from Mountain View to South San Francisco and it’s a commute that is pure hell. Is there any hope that some day it may get better?
  • Safety, traffic flow driving force behind Highway 14 widening. After nearly a decade of planning and six months of construction, a stretch of Highway 14 from just before the Inyokern Road/State Route 178 to just before the Indian Wells Brewing Company and Lodge have been transformed. The Freeman Gulch project, a multi-million dollar project, will convert the stretch of highway from two lanes to a four-lane expressway meant to improve traffic flow and safety, according to Caltrans District 9.
  • Feinstein: Traffic is terrible. Build a new bay bridge. Sen. Dianne Feinstein renewed her call Wednesday for a so-called Southern Crossing — a new east-west transbay bridge somewhere south of the always-congested Bay Bridge. Feinstein, D-Calif., has repeatedly called since 2000 for a Southern Crossing, an idea that has been around since the 1940s, but has been rejected in recent years as too costly and environmentally problematic.
  • State Funds Two Mother Lode Transportation Projects. A total of $32 million in grants was handed out with two road projects involving highways in Calaveras County receiving nearly $400,000. During this week’s California Transportation Commission meeting, the first planning grants funded through the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2014 (SB 1) were awarded to local agencies to support their efforts to plan more sustainable communities, reduce transportation-related greenhouse gases and adapt for the effects of climate change.
  • Route 66 Wednesdays; Santa Monica to Pasadena. Back between 2011 and 2013 I traveled on various western parts of the former US Route 66 for work between Santa Monica, CA east to Albuquerque, NM. That being the case I spent a ton of time tracking down old alignments and pretty much anything of interesting, at least enough to justify a stand alone day. This week I’ll be looking back at US Route 66 between Santa Monica to Cajon Pass.
  • California State Route 137; the 90 degree turn highway. After completing Yokohl Valley Drive I decided to take something a little different back to the Fresno Area and made my northwest to CA 137.
  • I-580 express lanes take lead in toll revenue. As express lanes reach deeper into the Bay Area, electronically snatching tolls from a growing number of solo drivers willing to pay for the convenience of riding in the carpool lanes, one set stands out as a big moneymaker. The Interstate 580 express lanes, which cover 11 miles eastbound and 14 miles westbound between Dublin and Livermore, have been open a little less than two years. But they’ve already become the regional leader, earning more money and luring in more solo drivers than the other two established express lanes combined.
  • License plate readers coming to Highway 4 and I-80 after rise in shootings. Local law enforcement agencies are planning to spearhead a collaborative, interconnected system of wireless cameras and microphones on Highway 4 and Interstate 80 after a noted increase in freeway shootings in recent years. The project, which has been dubbed the “Freeway Security Network,” will wirelessly combine cameras, automated license-plate readers and microphones in an effort to “provide law enforcement with real-time access to investigative leads,” according to city documents.
  • Stretch of Highway 37 in Novato gets gas tax fund to study flooding. Marin County will receive $130,000 to study flooding issues on Highway 37 — money courtesy of the new gas tax. Marin drivers are still dealing with the sticker shock of a new 12-cent-per-gallon gas tax that took effect Nov. 1, but some of that revenue is already flowing back to the county for transportation needs.
  • Feinstein proposes new bridge across the Bay. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is pushing to have a new bridge constructed across the Bay, midway between the Bay Bridge and the San Mateo Bridge, in the hopes of alleviating congestion on those two bridges. Feinstein, along with Congressman Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, sent a letter Wednesday (Dec. 6) to Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) Executive Director Steve Heminger in support of the new bridge, which has been discussed for decades. Over the years, it’s become known as the “Southern Crossing.”
  • The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Bay Bridge that never was. After the construction of the Bay Bridge in 1933, San Francisco began considering duplicating the bridge and running a second one further south across the bay. Enter Frank Lloyd Wright, the famed organic architect whose idea and design for a second Bay Bridge never came to fruition.
  • Caltrans to start new lane pattern in construction area on southbound 5. Starting Monday evening, Caltrans will create new temporary lanes on the southbound side of Interstate 5 as part of the Caltrans I-5 Roadway Rehabilitation Project. The new lane pattern will occur on a segment on the southbound 5 between Calgrove Boulevard and State Route 14, the Antelope Valley Freeway.
  • Here’s why you’re seeing those black and yellow license plates again. Q: Riverside’s Marjorie Barr asked about the black license plates with yellowish-gold lettering that she sees on some California vehicles. Barr wondered whether they are old license plates or new ones.
  • Another Bay Bridge? 70 years of absurd, crazy and downright dumb span plans. One of the proposals for a second crossing across San Francisco Bay envisioned a giant cloverleaf interchange on Yerba Buena Island with the current and new Bay Bridge intersecting there. About 260,000 vehicles travel across the Bay Bridge every day. Nearly that many outrageous ideas have been floated for a second cross-bay span since the original’s 1936 opening. The Bay Bridge is a workhorse of the region’s transit infrastructure, but planners, politicians and wing nuts have for decades been pushing proposals to build another structure across San Francisco Bay to alleviate traffic and ease travel. A recent search of The Chronicle’s archive turned up photos, sketches and stories that have stayed hidden — many for good reason — for years, and they show a penchant for the fantastical (a cross-bay cloverleaf!) to the refined (Frank Lloyd Wright’s Butterfly Bridge).
  • Massive Marin-Novato Narrows segment nears completion. Construction on a large section of the Marin-Sonoma Narrows near the county line is winding down and could be ready for drivers to use as soon as next month. Dubbed the San Antonio Curve Correction project, the $73 million in work over roughly 2.5 miles has realigned Highway 101 at San Antonio Road and created space to eventually add a carpool lane, according to the Transportation Authority of Marin, which is overseeing the work with Caltrans.
  • Caltrans takes lead on Mill Valley, Tiburon freeway interchange project. Caltrans is taking the lead on an estimated $2 million project aimed at unclogging a busy freeway interchange linking Tiburon and Mill Valley, transportation officials said. The project would add a lane on Tiburon Boulevard from North Knoll Road westward and create a two-lane northbound onramp to Highway 101. The plan is now slated to be part of a larger $9.2 million project by Caltrans, which includes adding onramp metering lights along Highway 101 from the Golden Gate Bridge to Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, said Steve Williams, a Caltrans spokesman.
  • Planners recommend safety signs on SR-67, split on reduced speed proposal. In an effort to improve safety on state Route 67, Ramona Community Planning Group unanimously approved sending a letter to Caltrans recommending cautionary signs be placed along the roadway. In two separate actions, group members on Dec. 7 first agreed to seek signage stating “No Unsafe Passing on the Right” based on laws cited in California Vehicle Codes 21754 and 21755. Then planners recommended that other signage be installed to warn drivers on the southbound side of SR-67 before the Airmail Lane curve that the line of sight for vehicles turning left may be insufficient for approaching vehicles to make a safe stop behind them.
  • Roadshow: More Interstate 680 widening on tap. Q: Last week an arborist company removed all the landscaping (trees, bushes, etc.) from the east side of South Main next to Interstate 680 in Walnut Creek, almost to Rudgear Road. Are they getting ready to widen the freeway here? It is at the point where the carpool lane begins, and traffic always backs up here because of all the merging.
  • “Topping out” ceremony celebrates completion of towers for new Port of Long Beach bridge. On December 5, state, local and federal officials joined construction crews for a “topping out” ceremony to celebrate the completion of the two 515-foot-tall towers for the new Port of Long Beach bridge, Port of Long Beach reports. The towers will be the centerpieces of California’s first cable-stayed bridge for vehicular traffic, which will be one of the tallest of its kind in the nation.
  • Golden Gate Bridge new toll system in place by 2020. A new way for Golden Gate Bridge officials to collect tolls will be in place by 2020, span officials said Thursday. A large gantry-type structure project is moving forward as Golden Gate Bridge officials look to upgrade toll collection machinery. Earlier this year, the bridge district hired Oakland-based consultant AECOM for roughly $1 million to design the 20-foot-high gantry, which will be built 140 feet south of the existing toll plaza. The entire project will cost about $7 million. Input will be sought from community groups for the final design.
  • San Carlos interchange improvements get funding boost. An effort to reduce congestion and improve safety on the Holly Street and Highway 101 interchange in San Carlos took a leap forward recently when the San Mateo County Transportation Authority approved funds needed to make up a gap in the project’s funding pegged earlier this year.
  • Orange County Transportation Authority wants plans for ramp connecting 241 toll road and 91 Express Lanes slowed down. County transportation leaders on Monday pushed for a delay on any plans for a $180 million ramp linking the 241 toll road and 91 Freeway Express Lanes over fears the project could increase congestion on both the freeway and the tollway that runs along the middle of it. The 10-3 vote by the Orange County Transportation Authority’s board requests that the Transportation Corridor Agencies – the public agency that runs the 241 toll road and is the driving force behind the proposed connector – slow down on plans for an elaborate ramp connecting the paid traffic lanes.
  • Orange County transit panel opposes ramp connecting 91 Express Lanes with 241 toll road. Orange County Transportation Authority staffers fearful of increased congestion on the 91 freeway and the adjacent 91 Express Lanes want 241 toll road leaders to pump the brakes on plans for a $180 million ramp linking the 241 and the Express Lanes. And an executive committee, comprised of seven OCTA board members, on Monday backed that opposition, preferring that the Transportation Corridor Agencies, which manages the 241, to defer any work on the planned connector.
  • Landmark Road Fix Tops List of New Laws. The 2016-17 California legislative session saw the passage of the most far-reaching and significant
    transportation funding bill in decades, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, Senate Bill 1. The new law, signed by Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. in April, raised fuel taxes on Nov. 1 and will impose road improvement fees for most vehicles beginning Jan. 1, 2018 to fix the state’s immense backlog of needed repairs to its transportation system.
  • Zen and the art of guerrilla freeway signs. Once, maybe long ago, maybe last week, as you sat and stewed in traffic on some petrified stretch of freeway, you looked up at an overpass and saw a homemade sign that read #TREASON, or “SAVE DACA” or “WORST PRESIDENT EVER.” And you wondered, who the heck put that up there? Here’s where Patrick Randall takes a bow. That’s the pseudonym of the Southern California man who also calls himself the Freeway Blogger. [It’s also a tweak on the name of the heroically doomed mental institution patient Randle Patrick McMurphy in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” ]
  • New bridge across SF Bay? Transit planners ‘happy’ to take a look. Regional transportation planners will meet soon with Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Mark DeSaulnier of Concord to discuss the two Democrats’ call for a study into building a new bridge between the East Bay and northern Peninsula or southern San Francisco. The idea of a “Southern Crossing” that would carry both cars and rail transit has been discussed for decades but has never gotten off the ground, in part because of the cost. But the combination of ever-increasing traffic congestion and the call to action from two political heavyweights has planners once again sharpening their pencils.
  • Hwy 120 James E Roberts Bridge Reopens Ahead Of Holidays. Today is the day Caltrans District 10 officials are giving back to Mother Lode motorists full use of a major bridge that has been under renovation for more than a year. The Highway 120 James E Roberts Bridge by Lake Don Pedro, which has been the focus of a much-needed multi-million dollar makeover, has been under 24/7 one-way traffic control with auto-lights set up on both sides of its span for several months now. It is part of a key local and tourist route, also being a gateway to Yosemite National Park.
  • Paving the way for a new and improved I-210 corridor. With the end of 2017 approaching, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is paving the way for a new, smoother ride through the Interstate 210 (Foothill Freeway) corridor. The I-210 Pavement Rehabilitation Project started in spring 2015, and is now more than 80 percent complete. When the project is scheduled for completion in Summer 2018, a nearly 10-mile stretch of I-210 will have new pavement that will provide a smoother ride for decades to come. The project also adds new concrete barriers and metal beam guardrail for the safety of drivers, new sign structures and permanent lighting at three tunnels located at the I-210/State Route 134 (Ventura Freeway) connectors to enhance visibility.
  • Rounding Out a Traffic Strategy. The first thing to know about roundabouts is that they aren’t all, well, round. Some are oval. Others are shaped like a raindrop, a dog bone or something similar. Some are simple with a single circular lane around a central island; others are more complex, and might include multiple lanes or a bike path.