Headlines About California Highways – February 2018

What a month! For a short month, it has been incredibly busy. But fear not, I’ve been collecting headlines for you. Here’s what’s been happening in the Golden State over the last month:

  • The ever-evolving 101 Freeway. The origin of the 101 Freeway stretches deep into California’s history, tracing a northsouth line through the state. It follows a path set by Spanish missionaries who traveled these parts long before the bear rode the flag, when America was still rolling westward. The course of the now 1,500-mile roadway dubbed El Camino Real (the King’s Road) has undergone many twists and turns as it made its inexorable march northward, deep into Washington state.
  • @CaltransDist3 Tweeted:. Beginning 2/12, the Rio Vista Bridge Preservation Project begins and is expected to last 2-3 years. Expect nightly 1-way traffic control w/delays.
  • Caltrans, County Need to Replace Multiple Montecito Bridges After Storm Damage. Montecito residents and visitors will need to make some long-term detours to avoid condemned bridges that could take months to repair or replace. Caltrans, the state agency responsible for Highway 192, and the Santa Barbara County Public Works Department, which oversees local roads in the area, have long-term closures for several bridges and one-way traffic control for others that were damaged in the Jan. 9 mudslides and debris flows.
  • Old California State Route 41 on Road 425B. While researching the history of the Lanes Bridge crossing of the San Joaquin River I noticed an oddity on the 1935 California Division of Highways map of Madera County. Today California State Route 41 takes a crossing of the Fresno River west of the confluence with China Creek. Back on the 1935 Map of Madera County the crossing is very clearly east of the confluence crossing on what are now Road 425B and Road 426 in Oakhurst. CA 41 can be seen traversing southbound from Oakhurst on Road 425B towards Coarsegold on the 1935 Madera County Map.
  • I-215 Barton Road Interchange Project Construction Notice.
  • CHAPTER 3 FEDERAL-AID ROUTES & FUNCTIONAL CLASSIFICATIONS.
  • Marin employers agitate for Novato Narrows completion. Marin business leaders say completing the Novato Narrows widening is crucial for the economy of the North Bay and they hope new funding sources can see the project through. Sources of cash from a state gas tax increase and possible bridge toll increase made getting $250 million to finish the work a possibility.
  • Restoring a Lane on Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to Ease a Commute Headache. Once upon a time, the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge was so lightly traveled that it was no big deal to give up a traffic lane — going from three lanes to two.
  • Local Control Of Highway 84 Moves Forward. A state legislator has introduced a bill that would relinquish ownership of a portion of state Highway 84 to the city of Fremont. The section of highway in question consists of nearly 3 miles of Decoto Road between Interstate Highway 880 and Mission Boulevard, roughly half of which runs through Union City north of Alameda Creek.
  • Metro plans new lanes for 605 Freeway, carpool connections to 10 and 105, but needs to find the money first. There’s no source of money — yet — and certainly no time frame for construction, but Metro officials are putting forth a $4 billion plan to attempt to improve traffic on the 605 Freeway. At a community meeting Tuesday at the Pico Rivera Senior Center, Metro officials said the project could include new lanes and connections for the route, which Caltrans recently called “one of the busiest and most congested highways in the greater Los Angeles area.”
  • Cap City Corridor Project. The CapCity Corridor (State Route 51 and adjacent streets) is the most congested corridor in the region. In 2016, SR 51/CapCity experienced over 2,050,000 vehicle hours of delay at a $27.5 million cost to users and had five of the region’s top 10 bottlenecks. As the region continues to grow, conditions in the SR 51/CapCity Corridor are expected to worsen by 2035. To address the issues in the corridor and better meet the needs of drivers, transit riders, freight drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians, Caltrans initiated the Capital City (CapCity) Corridor Project: A collaborative, interagency planning process that coordinates and prioritizes potential multimodal projects in the corridor. There is no single project that will solve all the issues. Instead, it will require a suite of short-, medium- and long-term multimodal projects with planning and funding from multiple agencies.
  • Roadshow: Fix for 101-to-87 fiasco is held up by lawsuit. Q: I had a dream the other night, and I am hoping it wasn’t just a reoccurring nightmare. In my dream I recalled you mentioning that there are plans to add a second exit lane from Highway 101 south to 87 south at the airport. When is that going to happen? The back up is outrageous. Good grief! It’ll be even worse when Google builds that mega campus near the SAP Center. I’m so frustrated. It takes easily 20 minutes to traverse this half mile every evening.
  • STATE ROUTE 138 (EAST) REALIGNMENT PROJECT. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) continues work on the $23 million State Route 138 (SR-138) East Realignment Project. The project is located on SR-138 just east of Interstate 15 to Summit Post Office Road. The realignment will remove several curves and steep grades reducing the three-mile stretch by one mile. The project also includes constructing outside shoulders, three bridges, and three wildlife crossings. SR-138 will remain a two-lane road with one lane in each direction.
  • Los Angeles Union Station Plans Possible $2 billion Expansion. Los Angeles Union Station (LAUS) is considering plans to add a new southern entrance/exit for Metrolink and Amtrak trains and build a new expanded passenger concourse. The Link Union Station project (Link US) will transform the historic LAUS from a “stub-end,” or dead-end station, to a “run-through” station by extending tracks south over the US-101 freeway, resulting in reduced passenger wait times.
  • L.A. County set to build its first new freeway in 25 years, despite many misgivings. When the Century Freeway opened in 1993, officials said it would almost certainly be the last of the great Southern California freeways, the final chapter in a romance with fast lanes that began just before World War II. It offered a good example of why the ardor faded. The 105 violated environmental laws, displaced more than 25,000 people and left behind a legacy of noise and pollution in some of Los Angeles County’s poorest neighborhoods. After decades of delays and bitter litigation, its price tag rose to $2.2 billion, making it the most expensive roadway ever built in the United States.
  • Last of iconic illegal immigration crossing signs has vanished in California. While politicians are embroiled in a polarized national debate over immigration, an iconic road sign cautioning drivers near the San Diego border to watch for migrants running across the freeway has quietly disappeared. The “immigrant crossing” signs have become obsolete, said Cathryne Bruce-Johnson, a spokeswoman for Caltrans. The transportation department stopped replacing the signs years ago because it constructed fences along medians to deter people from running across highways.
  • Stretch of Hwy 1 renamed after Charles Walte. A five-mile stretch of Highway 1 was renamed Friday in honor of one of the men who helped build it. The stretch sits between Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo. Caltrans and other local leaders attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Charles I. Walter Memorial Highway.
  • Time to face reality: We need another bay bridge. With the terrible condition of Bay Area traffic, we need an additional bay bridge. Let us consider the statistics: Since 1990, the region’s population has increased by 27.5 percent to 7.68 million today. It is projected to increase by another 21 percent to 9.3 million by 2040. Traffic on our roads and bridges increases proportionally: the 300,000 vehicles per day on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, will increase to some 363,000 vehicles by 2040. The attraction of the Bay Area means this growth will not abate.
  • Gilman roundabout plans take another step forward. Business and property owners, along with cycling advocates and other community members, had a chance to weigh in Wednesday morning about plans to build two large roundabouts on Gilman Street where it passes under Interstate 80.
  • California’s last “immigrant crossing” sign is gone. Created as a stop-gap to save undocumented migrants from getting killed by cars on Interstate 5 near the San Diego area border with Mexico, the signs soon took on a symbolic use beyond the original intent. The last one appears to have been stolen and won’t be replaced. The Union-Tribune spoke to Caltrans designer John Hood about the sign, which was a replacement for an all-text sign:
  • Dark Caltrans signs on I-80 really do work. Every day, hundreds of thousands of drivers creep, cruise or occasionally zip along westbound Interstate 80, passing beneath electronic message signs that cost millions of dollars but are usually dark and devoid of words or images. And many of those motorists wonder: Do those things work?
  • Metro staff support a $6-billion widening of the 710 Freeway. Each year, tens of thousands of truck drivers make the 19-mile trip up the 710 Freeway from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to rail yards near downtown, carrying cargo bound for every corner of the United States. The 710 handles so much freight traffic from the ports that commuters on the freeway frequently find themselves trapped between big rigs or cut off from their exits by long lines of trucks.
  • Staff recommends alternative 5C for 710 Corridor Project. RECOMMENDATION ADOPT Alternative 5C as the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) for the I-710 South Corridor Projectto advance into the Final Environmental Document.
  • Metro Board to Vote on $6 Billion Lower 710 Freeway Widening. This week Metro board committees are considering approving a distinctly backward-looking $6 billion project to widen the 710 Freeway through southeast L.A. County. It is difficult to believe that, in the 21st Century, Caltrans and Metro are still seeking to spend billions widening a highway in order “to improve air quality, mobility, and quality of life” per the Metro project website. East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice Executive Director mark! Lopez criticizes the 710 Freeway project because it “does little to advance zero emissions, does little to ensure local labor is hired to build this enormous project, and will displace hundreds of longstanding families from their homes.”
  • Caltrans Kicks Off $1.9B I-405 Widening Project. Orange County Transportation Authority and Caltrans are heading an effort to reduce congestion on a busy section of Interstate 405 — also known as the San Diego Freeway — by widening 16 mi. of the 72.41-mi. freeway from state Route 73 in Costa Mesa to Interstate 605 near Seal Beach, Los Alamitos and the Los Angeles County line.
  • If Republicans have their way, California highways stand to lose big under Trump’s infrastructure plan. President Trump’s infrastructure proposal isn’t worth much. And what it is worth for California, the state’s Republican delegation in Congress is trying to destroy. That’s the irony. More precisely, it’s cynical politics outweighing needed public works.
  • Roadshow: Help may be coming for Interstate 580 to Bay Bridge commute. Q: Please, please, please tell me there are plans to address the horrible conditions on Interstate 580 from the Bay Bridge through Oakland. No one ever seems to mention this. An extra lane would be so nice. Anything in the works or are we 580 commuters simply the forgotten ones?
  • Metro moves forward with plan to widen the 710 freeway. A Metro committee forwarded a $6-billion plan to widen much of the 710 freeway to the full Metro Board of Directors Wednesday. The agency’s Ad Hoc Congestion, Highways, and Roads Committee reviewed a version of the widening project that would expand a 19-mile stretch of freeway running from the 405 to the 60 to five lanes in each direction. Two truck bypass lanes would also be constructed in either direction at the 405 interchange, allowing goods to be transported in and out of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach more efficiently.
  • Mile Marker: September 2017.
  • Plan to widen south end of 710 freeway riles communities. A Caltrans proposal to expand part of the 710 freeway is stirring up controversy — again. This time, it’s not around Pasadena but at the southern end. The plan would widen a 19-mile section of the 710 from Long Beach to the 60 freeway south of downtown Los Angeles, displacing homes and businesses.
  • Expansion of the 710 Freeway Trudges Forward Amid Community Demands For Cleaner Alternative. The possible expansion of the 710 Freeway cleared two hurdles Wednesday afternoon as two committees for the Los Angeles County Metro Authority pushed the project onward to the full board. The debate was between two alternatives identified by planners, one (5c) costing about $6 billion and “alternative 7” which would cost about $10 billion. Both projects would change the current layout of the current 19-mile stretch of the 710 that runs from Long Beach to East Los Angeles.
  • Widening freeways is so 20th century — the 710 Freeway deserves better. The 710 Freeway is a congested, diesel-polluted mess of a road. Built in the 1950s and 1960s, it was never intended to accommodate the endless swarm of vehicles, and particularly trucks, using the freeway today. Seven days a week, big rigs rumble up and down the 710, hauling containers from the nation’s largest seaport complex in San Pedro and Long Beach to the sprawling rail yards in Commerce and Vernon east of downtown. The route can become so busy that trucks stretch bumper to bumper for miles in the right lanes, boxing passenger cars in and causing them to miss their exits. That’s one reason the accident rate on the 710 is higher than on other freeways.
  • NEW RIDGE ROUTE WEBSITE. Recently, I became a board member of the Ridge Route Preservation Organization. This group is dedicated to helping preserve and promote the historic Ridge Route in southern California. One of the first things I have done as a part of this group is to create a new website for the group. This site is an offshoot of the “RidgeRoute.Com” site, hosted by Harrison Scott. The new site will give updates on the progress we make regarding the roadway as well as any other news pertinent to the Ridge Route. Come take a look at “http://ridgeroute.org“.
  • HIGHWAY TIPS #2 – SIGNS. Road signs come in many different sizes, shapes, and colors. Each one carries a specific meaning to help guide you down the road in a safe manner. This installment will discuss each of the types of signs and what they mean. Road signs come in a variety of colors. Each color has a meaning, which can be quite important to know. The colors run from red, yellow, white, blue, green, brown, and orange.
  • One more westbound 91 Freeway lane pondered in Corona. Vehicles using the 91 Freeway toll lanes in Corona — and revenues from them — have far surpassed expectations since the lanes opened almost a year ago. But the corridor still needs some fixes, Riverside County transportation officials say.
  • 710 Freeway may dedicate a lane for electric vehicles — and charge them while they travel. As part of a $6 billion widening of the 710 Freeway, a Metro committee is asking the transit agency to add a lane dedicated to electric vehicles — cars, buses and trucks — which would use wireless power transmission pads placed in the roadway to recharge their batteries as they travel. While wireless charging is being used at transit yards, including in the Antelope Valley to power electric buses, the notion of a freeway lane embedded with devices that continuously recharge a moving vehicle’s battery pack would be a first in the United States.
  • 710 Freeway plan to include power for electric cars. A $6 billion proposal to add lanes to the 710 Freeway now has an environmental twist to it: a source of electricity embedded in the pavement to power electric cars. Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who is also an L.A. Metro Board member, said the technology will encourage more zero-emission vehicles and cut back on freeway-related pollution.
  • Counting Down the Final Weeks of I-5 Construction. Work is finishing up on the I-5 South County Improvements Project, a $230 million widening of I-5 to extend carpool lanes from San Juan Capistrano to San Clemente that includes the complete reconstruction of the Avenida Pico interchange. The project is approaching several milestones in the last few weeks of work. Here’s a look by segment:
  • L.A.’s 20th century dream of building freeways refuses, even now, to die. If no one in 2018 would argue, as a young writer named David Brodsly did in 1981, that the “L.A. freeway is the cathedral of its time and place,” or that it’s the spot where Angelenos “spend the two calmest and most rewarding hours of their daily lives,” as British architectural historian Reyner Banham put it with almost laughable enthusiasm a decade earlier, there’s no doubt that both the practical and metaphorical meanings of the freeway continue to preoccupy Southern Californians.
  • Roadshow: New I-880 median needed for coming FasTrak lanes. Q: The construction on Interstate 880 between Highway 237 and A Street in Oakland is a mess. The center divider has been torn down, built back, and then in certain areas torn down again to add higher walls. Why not build the correct wall the first time? How many times do they need to do construction on the same stretch of highway?
  • Lack of Uproar in Long Beach Over the 710 Freeway Expansion—With 400 People Being Displaced—Is Egregious. This piece entirely altered within the span of two minutes while on my walk to work this morning. Its original headline was going to directly address Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, who happens to sit on the Metro Board and will effectively be a part of whether or not the 710 expansion project goes through. (Don’t worry: if you’re on the west side and suffering from asthma, it’s going to go through so get your inhaler prepped for double-duty.)
  • Metro & Caltrans Want You to Believe the 710 Expansion Is Good—Here’s Why It’s Not Good at All. I’ve been writing about the 710 Freeway expansion project since 2013 and in those five years, one thing is clear: the possible expansion is not just a random, asphalt-driven undertaking; it is one of the largest infrastructural proposals in the region and it comes with consequences—which is why it has taken over 15 years to design, propose, and analyze.
  • The McKinley Home for Boys: 13840 Riverside Drive, Sherman Oaks, CA.. Photograph caption dated August 8, 1960 reads, “Clay Johnson, 26, 16048 Celtic Ave., Granada Hills, alumnus of McKinley Home for Boys, 13840 Riverside Dr., Sherman Oaks, peers through chain-link fence with student Mike Chacon, 9, at Ventura Freeway, a major cause forcing move of home out of Valley early next year. Freeway rolls to within three feet of home. More than 200 alumni paid final respects to 40-year-old home Saturday.”
  • Caltrans Will Rebuild Highway 192 Bridges Damaged in Montecito Debris Flows. Three Montecito bridges damaged in the Jan. 9 debris flows will be demolished and rebuilt, Caltrans said Monday, adding that Montecito-area Highway 192 closures will stay in effect until the bridges are constructed. Highway 192 is closed between Sycamore Canyon/Camino Viejo Road near Santa Barbara and Cravens Lane near Carpinteria, and four bridges along the highway were heavily damaged in the storm.
  • The Mammoth Orange, artifact of an era, to get new life at a fossil museum. A large, round and still-orange reminder of America’s fabled love of the open road sits outside a fossil museum in central California where the community is making plans to restore it. The Mammoth Orange hamburger stand – shaped like a giant orange – was a fixture on Highway 99 near Highway 152 at a place called Fairmead. It closed about 10 years ago.
  • High Desert Corridor, DTLA transit upgrades, microtransit: HWR, Feb. 26.
  • Editorial: To address Bay Area traffic, build the tube, skip the bridge. Far-fetched transit ideas have a way of becoming real. Jammed freeways, sardine-packed transit cars and a bulging population are giving two breakthrough ideas serious attention. But one makes sense and the other should be tossed. BART is facing crush load capacity limits and its leaders are giving serious thought to a second Transbay Tube. It’s an enormous undertaking — likely the biggest infrastructure project ever in the region — but it could bring benefits in a variety of ways, not just a quicker commute ride.
  • Roadshow: The diverging diamond, and other outside-the-box traffic ideas. Q: Thanks for using a portion of my email asking who’s thinking outside the box to alleviate the massive traffic issues we have around the Bay Area. Sounds like some out there are thinking of new ways of doing things. It’s what we’re supposed to be about around here.
  • Richmond-San Rafael Bridge Travel Alert: Ignore Arrows, Xs on Overhead Signs. Motorists traveling eastbound on Interstate 580 between Marin and Contra Costa counties are advised for the next several weeks to disregard the green arrows and red Xs that periodically will be displayed on the overhead message signs on the lower deck of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.
  • San Carlos OK’s $7 million for Highway 101 project. Though San Carlos officials weighed concerns about how the Holly Street and Highway 101 interchange project might affect local streets, they opted not to delay it any further when they approved another $7 million toward the major infrastructure overhaul Monday.
  • PD Editorial: Join us for this public discussion about Highway 101 widening. There’s no disputing that Sonoma County has made great progress over the past 12 years or so in widening Highway 101 to six lanes from Petaluma to Windsor and expanding public transit opportunities, particularly with the start of SMART commuter rail service six months ago.
  • State crews flip switch on new pedestrian crossing beacons in Vallejo. The state has activated new pedestrian crossing signals for the first time in the North Bay with a program launch Tuesday in Vallejo. What’s known as pedestrian hybrid beacons – officially the High Intensity Activation Crosswalk System, or HAWK system – went live at four intersections on Highway 29 / Sonoma Boulevard in the city’s downtown.
  • Signs of progress on Richmond-San Rafael third lane. Starting Tuesday, drivers traveling east on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge between Marin and Contra Costa counties are advised to ignore the green arrows and red Xs on the overhead electronic signs on the lower deck of the bridge, transportation officials said.
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