Headlines about California Highway – March 2018

Ah, the month of March has come to an end, bringing us the fools of April, with bunnies that lay eggs and matzahs that have balls. So what’s been happening with the highways of California? Let’s find out:

  • 710 Freeway is a ‘diesel death zone’ to neighbors — can vital commerce route be fixed?. For decades, the 710 Freeway has been the commercial spine of Southern California, funneling the trucks carrying thousands of tons of furniture, clothes, televisions and other goods from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach into the region’s sprawling network of freeways and warehouses. But the steady stream of freight traffic on the 710, driven by the country’s growing appetite for imported goods and two-day shipping, has taken its toll. The pavement is cracked, bottlenecks are common, and the share of trucks on the freeway is three times higher than engineers in the 1960s expected.
  • Metro to decide on 710 Freeway widening in Long Beach. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plans to upgrade the heavily-congested 710 Freeway from Long Beach to East Los Angeles may take a significant step forward Wednesday, but with the key caveat that any widening of the freeway would not be allowed until after a decade or so’s worth of other improvements are accomplished.
  • Metro board moves forward with 710 overhaul, but wants to wait on widening. Metro’s Board of Directors unanimously approved a plan today to revamp the 710 freeway from Long Beach to East Los Angeles, but it’s holding off on the most costly and contentious part of the plan: widening much of the route to five lanes in each direction. Instead, the board approved fast-tracking portions of the plan that would be cheaper to implement and wouldn’t result in displacement for residents and business owners in areas close to the freeway. The board still needs to nail down the projects, but they could include parks, air filters in schools, and road improvements near the freeway.

  • State may tear down major Sacramento bridges to build bigger ones for mega-trucks. Flush with new gas tax funds, state officials are exploring what could be the biggest Sacramento freeway redo in modern times – tearing down and replacing the twin freeway bridges that carry Interstate 5 over the American River. Caltrans says the half-mile spans just north of downtown are among 45 pinch-points the agency has identified on three major freight corridors – I-5, I-80, I-10/60 – that force oversized trucks onto sometimes long and costly detours.
  • Car advocates putting plan for Richmond Bridge bike lane at risk. The idea that it’s more important to avoid delays for drivers using the Bay Area’s roads and bridges than it is for people biking and walking to be able to use those roads and bridges at all is a zombie idea, refusing to stay dead no matter how many times bicycling advocates argue against it and no matter how many times our transportation agencies promise to treat all road users equally.
  • San Clemente officials argue proposed toll road extension would cost $2 billion, make traffic worse. San Clemente officials on Thursday struck back against proposals to extend a toll road through their city or adjacent wilderness areas, releasing a study they said shows the project would be a costly boondoggle that wouldn’t improve traffic. The Transportation Corridor Agencies, which operate four toll roads in southern and eastern Orange County, is exploring several options for a new north-south corridor that could ease congestion on I-5 by connecting drivers to the 241 toll road.
  • 10 months after Metro killed 710 tunnel, a nervous South Pasadena hires outside attorney to bring the fight to Caltrans. Despite assurances that the project is dead, South Pasadena last week hired an outside attorney to help the city redouble its efforts to fight a tunnel extension of the 710 Freeway from Alhambra to Pasadena, city and state sources said. Douglas Carstens, an expert in California environmental law and part of the Los Angeles-based Chatten-Brown & Carstens law firm, was hired by South Pasadena to help with the city’s latest effort to respond to Caltrans about how a 6.3-mile, north-south tunnel connecting the 10 Freeway with the 134/210 freeways in west Pasadena would adversely affect historical buildings, city spokesperson Susan Groveman said in an email.
  • LA wants to redesign some of the 10’s most confusing freeway ramps. If you’ve ever tried to exit the 10 freeway and get to Culver City, you’ve felt the pain of the Robertson and National offramps. Due to the way that the street grid shifts, the ramps meander off the 10 in an extremely disorienting manner. Once you end up on the street you’re trying to get to, you’ve endured so many twists and turns you feel certain that you’re going the wrong way (you probably are). And the ramps are far too short, meaning the freeway funnels heaps of cars—45,000 per all four ramps daily—right onto small, busy streets unequipped to deal with the heavy traffic.
  • Study planned on Richmond-San Rafael Bridge third westbound lane. The first steps toward investigating a third traffic westbound lane option on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge were approved Wednesday by a regional committee. The Bay Area Toll Authority’s Oversight Committee OK’d spending $100,000 to study whether adding the lane is feasible and what it would take to accomplish the work.
  • The Secret Language of Signs. Three years ago today, the 33 members of the Bluffton University baseball team boarded a bus at their campus in Bluffton, Ohio. It was early evening, and the college students had a long night ahead of them—an 18-hour ride, punctuated only by bathroom breaks, fuel stops, and a planned breakfast at McDonald’s. But their destination was enticing: Sarasota, Fla., which promised sunshine and the first game of their season.
  • Thomas Guide maps: The rise and fall of Los Angeles’ directional holy grail. Most drivers in the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles rely on Google Maps, Waze or their in-car GPS system to navigate the city, but not that long ago, drivers relied on a different type of North Star — one that lived in almost every backseat or glove compartment: the Thomas Guide.
  • Caltrans begins Highway 29 repairs in north Napa. Caltrans is beginning to make drainage and curb repairs to Highway 29 at three north Napa intersections before beginning longer-term upgrades to the pavement between Napa and St. Helena.
  • Roadshow: What’s the plan for Altamont Pass?. Q: With each passing day traffic on the Altamont Pass gets worse and worse, yet the current construction projects seem to be putting up concrete barriers making it more difficult to widen the freeway later. Being that they expect 60 percent more cars in the next 20 years, are they looking ahead? It’s already a mess.
  • 5 ways Highway 1 is closer to reopening in Big Sur. Last week’s rains sent some rocks skittering down the hillside at Mud Creek, where a massive slide has kept Highway 1 closed for nearly 10 months. Still, the road remains on track to reopen as scheduled late this summer, resident engineer Rick Silva said Thursday. If the weather holds.
  • Trump’s infrastructure plan is good and bad news for California’s tired, out-of-shape highways. President Donald Trump released his long-awaited infrastructure plan last month, which calls for $200 billion in federal spending and hopes to encourage over $1.5 trillion in new infrastructure investments through the use of public-private partnerships and incentives. Critics correctly point out that Trump’s plan doesn’t actually indicate where that $200 billion in spending will come from, though he reportedly floated raising the gas tax by 25 cents a gallon in recent meetings with lawmakers. Raising the gas tax, however, has limited support in Congress, so it is likely that the funding will have to come from somewhere else.
  • L.A. Taps the Brakes on Freeway Expansion. A controversial project to widen a heavily trafficked freeway in Los Angeles County sputtered to a surprising halt earlier this month. Transportation officials had been expected to choose between two expansion plans for the 710 freeway in southeast L.A. County. Instead, the board of Metro, the county’s transit agency, voted to move ahead with some improvements while tabling the controversial $6 billion scheme to add an additional lane in each direction from Long Beach to East L.A.
  • Temescal Canyon Road widening project moving forward. A $12.3 million funding agreement for a widening project intended to relieve heavy congestion on Temescal Canyon Road between Lake Elsinore and Corona has won approval from Riverside County supervisors. The Riverside County Transportation Commission is supporting the project with Measure A infrastructure funds, and under the agreement unanimously approved Tuesday, March 13, by the Board of Supervisors, the commission will release the money as the project progresses.
  • UPCOMING PROJECTS IN SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY. With estimated daily traffic volumes through the State Route 4 corridor west of Stockton expected to reach 12,300 vehicles by 2028 and 15,800 by 2038, several safety & rehabilitation projects are planned for the area.
  • March 2018 Mile Marker Published. A new edition of the Mile Marker, a quarterly Caltrans performance report, is out. Hear from the new Director, Laurie Berman, read about successful projects & innovations, and other interesting department activities.
  • Mapping Apps Like Waze, Google Maps, and Apple Maps May Make Traffic Conditions Worse in Some Areas, New Research Suggests . In the pre-mobile-app days, drivers’ selfishness was limited by their knowledge of the road network. In those conditions, both simulation and real-world experience showed that most people stuck to the freeways and arterial roads. Sure, there were always people who knew the crazy, back-road route, but the bulk of people just stuck to the routes that transportation planners had designated as the preferred way to get from A to B. Now, however, a new information layer is destroying the nudging infrastructure that traffic planners built into cities. Commuters armed with mobile mapping apps, route-following Lyft and Uber drivers, and software-optimized truckers can all act with a more perfect selfishness.
  • I-5 Freeway Improvements Open to Traffic in South O.C.. A new carpool lane in each direction of I-5 in South Orange County is open to drivers, marking the completion of a vital freeway improvement project that eases traffic congestion for tens of thousands of daily commuters through San Clemente, Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano. Led by OCTA in cooperation with Caltrans, the project has added nearly six miles of carpool lanes in each direction between Avenida Pico in San Clemente and San Juan Creek Road in San Juan Capistrano.
  • Highway 78 traffic study asks drivers to slow down to decrease bottlenecks. For the next six weeks, motorists along eastbound state Route 78 from Vista to Interstate 15 will see a series of electronic signs telling them to slow to a specific speed, then to speed up again. It’s part of a pilot study aimed at synchronizing traffic in an effort to reduce bottlenecks that happen every rush hour, but will depend on at least partial compliance of drivers to make it work.
  • Last Chance Grade Project Slated to Receive $5M. The California Transportation Commission is slated this week to earmark an additional $5 million to help pave the way for an alternative to Last Chance Grade. The new funds will be combined with a previous $5 million allocated by the agency last May to pay for the environmental studies needed to move forward with a workaround to the challenged section of U.S. Highway 101 south of Crescent City, which has been failing for decades.
  • 2018 State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP) Adopted. he CTC has adopted the 2018 State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP). The 4-year program invests nearly $18 billion in State Highway System repairs and rehabilitation.
  • Coloma/Lotus bridge falsework takes a tumble. A portion of the support structure for the new Coloma/Lotus bridge collapsed Thursday due to heavy swells of the South Fork of the American River. Steven Nelson, information officer for Caltrans District 3, said the river was running high due to heavy rainfall and caused some movement of the structure.
  • Efforts to expand Highway 70 come too late for some. Paul Inman knew how dangerous the road could be. The Paradise man saw it firsthand during the years he spent helping clean up the scenes of deadly accidents across the north state as a tow truck driver. Inman was particularly concerned about Highway 70. The longtime Caltrans employee was reminded of the risks of the two-lane stretch of highway between Oroville and Marysville as he commuted to Olivehurst for work each day.
  • Golden Gate Bridge toll-taking device unveiled. Design concepts for a new piece of landscape-changing hardware for the Golden Gate Bridge were released Thursday, with the real thing set to be up and running by 2020. A large gantry-type structure project is moving forward as Golden Gate Bridge officials look to upgrade toll collection machinery.
  • Caltrans offers plans, but little reassurance, to reduce Coronado bridge suicides. The San Diego-Coronado Bridge is among the deadliest spans in America for suicides. Only the Golden Gate Bridge has regularly seen more people plunge to their death in recent years, and there officials are in the process of installing a net below its deck to deter would-be jumpers at a cost of roughly $204 million.
  • 15 Freeway toll lane project wins state dollars for environmental study. Projects along the 15 Freeway corridor have just gotten a boost. A transportation agency has been awarded $50 million in state funds to launch environmental studies that will set the stage for building tolled express lanes on the 15 between Cajalco Road in Corona and Highway 74 in Lake Elsinore, a news release reports. Those studies are expected to take five years to complete.
  • Fix coming to deadly Cholame “Y” as SLO County gets $261 million for road projects. A fix is on the way for the deadly Cholame “Y” intersection on Highway 46 thanks to $261 million in state transportation money that was approved Wednesday to repair roads and improve infrastructure in San Luis Obispo County. The California Transportation Commission approved the allocation — which includes $197 million for Highway 46 improvements — at a Wednesday meeting in Orange County.
  • California Eyes Future Projects to Relieve Freight Congestion. Truck traffic moving through Sacramento may be alleviated by a series of projects the California Department of Transportation has outlined to ease congestion along major freight corridors over the next 10 years. Caltrans, as the agency is known, created a list of “pinch points” to plan projects that will facilitate traffic on major corridors, including Interstate 5, I-80, I-10 and State Route 60.
  • I-5 Bridge Rehabilitation. @CaltransDist10 has awarded a contract to Myers and Sons Construction of Sacramento to rehabilitate 20 bridges on Interstate 5 in Stanislaus and Merced counties.
  • SANDAG Receives Caltrans Awards. The California Transportation Commission Awarded $215 million to Caltrans and SANDAG that will benefit multiple transportation projects throughout the region.
  • This San Fernando Valley transit project just got a $202 million funding boost. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority will receive $482 million in state transportation funds for several projects, including a mass transit project planned for the eastern San Fernando Valley, according to Metro.
  • Caltrans Maintenance Crews Work to Provide Smoother, Safer Ride on Interstate 605 (San Gabriel River Freeway). While many of you were still sleeping, two maintenance crews with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) were working to make a stretch of Interstate 605 (San Gabriel River Freeway) smoother and safer for drivers.
  • CALTRANS IMPROVES HIGHWAY 101 BRIDGES IN SANTA BARBARA COUNTY. Caltrans will improve and extend the service life of two bridges on U.S. Highway 101 at the Refugio Road Undercrossing in Santa Barbara County due to funding by Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. “This SB 1 project allows crews to perform proactive maintenance work to prevent aging and deterioration of the bridges,” said Caltrans Director Laurie Berman. “The improvements will save taxpayers millions of dollars in costly repairs in the future, and provide motorists with a smooth commute for years to come.”
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