Headlines about California Highways for May 2018

Well, the first update for the highway pages is getting closer. But first, some headlines. Here are the accumulated headlines about California Highways for May 2018. Many of these will be discussing allocations from the California Transportation Commission that are dependent on SB1, or are talking about SB1. So first, a little political aside:

I have been spending Memorial Day weekend starting on long-awaited updates to the highway pages. In doing so, I’ve seen the long list of projects funded by SB1 (otherwise known as the Gas Tax), and the long list of major projects whose completion depends on SB1. But SB1 is in jeopardy. There are many who do not understand how it works, what it funds, and why it is needed. SPREAD THE WORD. SB1 is badly needed. Vote yes on Prop 69. Vote FOR candidates that support SB1, and AGAINST those that support the repeal. When the November election comes, defeat the repeal. The pennies we pay at the pump go a long way to make our drives more pleasant, and getting us to our destinations faster and safer.

For those who don’t know, here is the process of how I do highway page updates: Phase 1 is headline updates. First, I go through these headline posts and update pages, then I go through material emailed to me. I then skim the AARoads Pacific Southwest Forum for other information I might have missed. Phase 2 is looking at the legislative actions and updating pages based on those. In Phase 3, I go through the minutes of the California Transportation Commission looking for significant changes to highways: reroutings, widenings, relinquishments, EIRs, and such (not ephemeral things like resurfacing or landscaping). This post, which is going up a few days early, will represent the headline stopping point for this update (i.e., headlines after this post will go into the next round).

So here are the headlines for May. As always, for most paywalled pages, you can get around the paywall by trying incognito or private mode in your browser.

  • Caltrans: Hwy 1 at Mud Creek expected to reopen in mid-September. Caltrans has announced a new target of mid-September to reopen Highway 1 at Mud Creek. A massive landslide in May 2017 sent more than 6 million cubic yards of rock and dirt onto the highway and into the ocean. It was the biggest slide ever along California’s Big Sur coast. Since then, Highway 1 has been closed between Salmon Creek and Gorda.
  • California eyes fall reopening of Highway 1 near Big Sur. California transportation officials are targeting mid-September for reopening a stretch of iconic Highway 1 in the Big Sur region that was blocked almost a year ago by a massive landslide following winter storms. The slide has hindered visitors and hurt businesses on the major tourism route among classic California coastal vistas and landmarks between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
  • There’s Still Time to Comment on the Proposed I-605/Katella Interchange Project. More than 50 area residents and community leaders attended a public hearing in Los Alamitos on April 24 regarding the I-605/Katella Avenue Interchange Project. The proposed project would enhance the local interchange by improving freeway access, traffic flow and pedestrian and bike paths.
  • New on-ramps, off-ramps to 60 Freeway in City of Industry, Diamond Bar will open on Tuesday. Two of the three legs of the new Lemon Avenue interchange of the 60 Freeway in Diamond Bar will open on Tuesday, May 1 in time for the busy morning commute, according to the Alameda Corridor-East Construction Authority. At 6 a.m., Caltrans will clear away the orange cones and officially allow vehicles to enter the westbound 60 Freeway from a brand new Lemon Avenue on-ramp. Freeway riders traveling eastbound can take the Lemon Avenue exit via a newly constructed off-ramp.
  • Bridging Moody Gulch on Highway 17. Q: While expensive, any thoughts on bridging Moody Gulch on Highway 17? Seems like the elevation on both ends does not make it much of a rise.

  • Golden Gate Bridge towers get dizzying inspection. Workers dangled more than 700 feet above the water atop the Golden Gate Bridge Monday morning, then rappelled down its towers to examine its massive steel structures as part of a federally mandated inspection.
  • Solano agency gets $10.8M for regional transit upgrades. Thirteen electrical SolanoExpress regional buses will be added as the Solano Transportation Authority uses nearly $11 million in state funding through the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program. Charging stations and other maintenance yard upgrades are also targeted. Solano Transportation Authority received about $10.79 million from the Transit and Intercity Rail program, funded through the state’s cap-and-trade program and enhanced by Senate Bill 1 transportation dollars. The Solano agency had applied for about $20 million.
  • CALTRANS TO DEMOLISH BRIDGES ON SR-192. Caltrans is continuing with plans to rebuild and repair six bridges along State Route 192 following debris flows and flooding in the Montecito area. This major construction effort will include rebuilding Montecito Creek (PM 8.12), Romero Canyon Creek (PM 10.92), Toro Canyon (PM 12.49) and the Arroyo Paredon Creek (PM 15.50) bridges. The demolition of these bridges will begin Monday, May 7 and continue through early June. Caltrans will begin with removal of the Toro Canyon Bridge, followed by Romero Canyon Creek, Arroyo Paredon and Montecito Creek Bridges.
  • SENATE BILL 1 FUNDS ALLOW CALTRANS TO ACCELERATE HIGHWAY 101 REPAIRS IN HUMBOLDT COUNTY. Caltrans will repave more than 23 lane miles of U.S. Highway 101 from north of Boyes Creek Viaduct to north of Prairie Creek Park Undercrossing in Humboldt County, due to funds from Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017.
  • National Wildlife Federation and Partners Reach Major Milestone in Landmark Wildlife Crossing Project. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) announced last week that the Project Report and the Environmental Document have been completed for the wildlife crossing at Liberty Canyon over U.S. Highway 101, marking a major milestone for the initiative. The project now moves into final design and engineering (the “blueprints” phase) and is slated to begin construction in late 2020.
  • The History of Interstate Highways in California. The list of California’s first sections of interstate is quite impressive. California already had more than half a dozen routes by 1947, totaling 1,938 miles, including I-5, I-8, I-10, I-15, US 40, I-80, I-505, and I-580. “Beltline and circumreferential” routes (more commonly called bypasses, such as today’s I-710, I-280, and I-880) were added in 1955 bringing California’s total interstate miles to 2,135. On June 24, 1957, I-80 became the first California freeway opened under the Federal Highway Act of 1956. I-10, one of the oldest interstates, was the first California interstate project to go to construction with interstate construction funds under the 1956 Act.
  • California Coastal Commission postpones Highway 1 realignment vote. A drive on the south Sonoma Coast takes visitors past impossibly beautiful ocean vistas, rocky shorelines and crashing waves, but the coastline could soon include an imposing new feature — a broad concrete bridge spanning Scotty Creek between Bodega Bay and Jenner.
  • The stretch of California’s Highway 1 that has been closed due to a landslide is set to reopen in September. Travelers eager for Highway 1 to reopen in Big Sur will have to wait a little longer. It has been a year since a massive landslide rained debris down on California’s iconic coastal route, making a drive along the entire 655-mile roadway impossible. The date for reopening has been set at mid-September as crews work to realign the highway, Caltrans announced Monday.
  • State Funds Awarded for Los Angeles Area Transportation Projects. Nearly a dozen major transit and commuter rail projects in Southern California will be the beneficiary of over $2 billion in funds awarded last week by the State of California. Metro will receive $150-million from the SB-1 gas tax measure to facilitate the construction of the Airport Metro Connector 96th Street Transit Station, which intends to link the Green and Crenshaw/LAX light rail lines with LAX airport via an automated people mover. The total project is budgeted at $500 million.
  • Route 88 Alignment Notes. Hope Valley, California Alpine County Hope Valley Resort, Post Office, 76 gas station, Trailer Park and Camp ground along the West Fork of the Carson River. From 1935-51 original alignment of California highway 88 traveled in front of the building and thru the campground to end at the original bridge crossing the river.
  • CALTRANS COMPLETES MEDIAN BARRIER PROJECT – ROUTE 152. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) recently completed a $3.3 million project installing a median barrier on State Route 152 (SR-152).
  • REBUILDING CA PROJECT MAP. Find transportation projects in your area that the State and local communities are investing in with SB 1 revenue.
  • Louis Vuitton unveils ‘Route 66’ book featuring the artwork of Thomas Ott. Louis Vuitton celebrated the launch of “Route 66” in Chicago last Thursday, one of four new titles within its Travel Book series that features the artwork of Thomas Ott. The 152-page hardcover book traces the graphic artist’s journey along the historic route through a series of black-and-white illustrations, created using a knife and coated scratchboard.
  • Transportation panel OKs fixes for Corona’s gridlocked Green River Road and nearby freeways. Morning commuters who approach Corona from the south or brave long lines that snake along Green River Road at a snail’s pace could see a measure of relief with a transportation panel’s adoption of a package of traffic-relief measures on Wednesday, May 9. Approved in a near-unanimous vote by the Riverside County Transportation Commission, those measures entail lengthening by one mile the northbound 15 Freeway toll lanes — which begin at Ontario Avenue now — and creating a continuous lane for entering and exiting 91 Freeway toll lanes at the Riverside-Orange county line.
  • LA weighing new rules for building near freeways. More than a decade after a state agency warned California cities against constructing new housing in areas polluted by traffic, Los Angeles city planners are considering stricter rules for development near freeways. That could mean new design guidelines for developers, more parking for zero-emission vehicles, and the creation of specific planning zones around freeways as the city updates its decades-old land use code.
  • Highway 1 is Expected to Reopen its Full Big Sur Scenic Route in September. The heart of Big Sur has been broken in two since Highway 1 closed last April. The following month on May 20th, 2017, Mud Creek had a major slide that added 5 million cubic yards of even more disaster to the situation. However, Caltrans has recently announced that come September, all roads should be clear for all NorCal to SoCal drives and vice versa.
  • Caltrans hoping to widen section of Highway 1 in Big Sur. Caltrans is hoping to widen sections of Highway 1 near Hurricane Point in Big Sur to make the road safer for drivers. The focus is on a 1.5 mile section stretching from Rocky Creek past Bixby Bridge and south to Hurricane Point. The plan is to widen travel lanes from 10.5 feet to 12 feet and increase the average paved shoulder widths from two feet to four feet.
  • Caltrans says OK to Agoura wildlife bridge. The California Department of Transportation gave approval May 1 for a plan to build a $60-million wildlife freeway crossing in the Conejo Valley. The unpaved bridge across the 101 Freeway at Liberty Canyon in Agoura Hills will feature a natural landscape design to encourage mountain lions, bobcats and other wildlife to safely cross the highway and expand their habitat from the Simi Hills in the north to the Santa Monica Mountains and the Pacific Ocean in the south.
  • Proposed bill could neuter Orange County toll road agencies. The battle over a proposed toll road extension in South Orange County may be fought next in Sacramento, after Assemblyman Rocky Chávez drafted a bill that would limit the powers of the agencies that operate a tollway system in the eastern and southern reaches of the county. Under the bill that Chávez, R-Oceanside, introduced this week, the Transportation Corridor Agencies would be barred from issuing new debt or forming a new entity to build additional toll roads. The bill if passed also would designate the Orange County Transportation Authority as the county’s sole traffic and transit planner.
  • Caltrans begins demo of old creek bridges on State Route 192. Caltrans moves forward with plans to rebuild and repair six bridges along State Route 192 following debris flows and flooding in the Montecito area. This major construction effort will include rebuilding Montecito Creek, Romero Canyon Creek, Toro Canyon and the Arroyo Paredon Creek bridges.
  • Caltrans Accelerates Repairs on State Route 1 in Santa Barbara County Due to SB 1 Funds. Caltrans will repave more than 40 lane miles of State Route 1 from the Las Cruces Interchange (U.S. Highway 101 Separation) to south of the State Route 246 Junction in Santa Barbara County due to the funds from Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017.
  • Highway 17 roadkill solution coming in 2021. Three years from now, people driving on Highway 17 can expect to see construction on Laurel Curve — not a road widening or a curve correction but a new bridge designed to save the lives of mountain lions and deer crossing the road and reduce costly and injurious collisions with wildlife.
  • Bay Area Projects Prove Big Winners In Competition for New State Gas Tax Funds. A baker’s dozen of Bay Area highway, transit and goods-movement projects today earned more than $660 million in new funding as the California Transportation Commission (CTC) finalized its first awards through a trio of competitive statewide programs established by the Senate Bill 1 transportation investment package signed into law by Gov. Brown last year. Projects in the nine-county Bay Area, which accounts for about 20 percent of the state population, earned more than 25 percent of the total $2.642 billion awarded today by the CTC through the Solutions for Congested Corridors, Trade Corridor Enhancement and Local Partnership programs. This is on top of the $1.4 billion awarded last month to 10 Bay Area transit projects for distribution over the next decade by the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) through its Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program, which includes both SB 1 and state cap-and-trade funds.
  • Solano goes extra mile with new transportation funding. Raising the gas tax and license fees was not popular with everyone, but county officials said the infusion of funding means more road projects are getting done. The Solano County Board of Supervisors recently approved a five-year Public Works Capital Improvement Plan that includes $14.99 million worth of projects in 2018-19.
  • Highways 12/113 roundabout project moves forward. The state Department of Transportation expects to hire a contractor to construct a roundabout at Highways 12 and 113 in September, with work starting as early as December. The estimated cost for the entire project is $7.1 million, of which $4.67 million is construction costs, Caltrans reports. It is funded through the State Highway Operation and Protection Program.
  • State approves funding for Highway 101 in Petaluma. The California Transportation Commission on Wednesday approved nearly $85 million to widen Highway 101 through Petaluma, an allocation that completes the funding package for a $121 million project to add a third highway lane from the Petaluma River to Corona Road. The funding comes from SB1, the state gas tax increase.
  • Highway 101 gets millions for improvements from Gilroy to South Bay and onto Marin. Attention weary commuters on Highway 101: Help is on the way, from Gilroy to Sunnyvale to SFO and through Petaluma. The California Transportation Commission has approved $351 million to add express lanes on 101 from Highway 237 to Interstate 380, rebuild the 101-237 interchange at Mathilda Avenue, begin plans for new ramps at 101-25 south of Gilroy, widen the Marin-Sonoma Narrows bottleneck and fund a pilot express bus line on 101 in San Mateo County.
  • State awards money to help fix Jameson Canyon bottleneck. The California Transportation Commission on Wednesday approved $53 million for a project designed to help eliminate the Highway 12/Jameson Canyon bottleneck at Interstate 80. Construction to create a two-lane ramp from eastbound Highway 12 to eastbound I-80 could begin in 2020, Solano Transportation Authority Executive Director Daryl Halls said. He estimated the project will cost about $70 million, with the remaining money coming from other sources.
  • Napa working with county, private partners on possible Old Sonoma Road deal. The city of Napa is working with private enterprise as it tries to complete a deal with Napa County to transform the county’s Old Sonoma Road property into a new neighborhood community with houses and retail uses.
  • 13 Bay Area Transportation Projects Get Total Of $660 Million. Thirteen Bay Area transportation projects were promised more than $660 million from the money expected to be raised by Senate Bill 1, transportation officials said Wednesday. The highway, transit and goods-movement projects received the awards through three competitive state programs established by SB 1, legislation including a gas tax that went into effect in November. The California Transportation Commission is administering the awards.
  • Highway 101 gets millions for improvements from Gilroy to South Bay and onto Marin. Attention weary commuters on Highway 101: Help is on the way, from Gilroy to Sunnyvale to SFO and through Petaluma. The California Transportation Commission has approved $351 million to add express lanes on 101 from Highway 237 to Interstate 380, rebuild the 101-237 interchange at Mathilda Avenue, begin plans for new ramps at 101-25 south of Gilroy, widen the Marin-Sonoma Narrows bottleneck and fund a pilot express bus line on 101 in San Mateo County.
  • District 7 on Twitter: SB 1 funding at work in @CaltransDist7 – A bridge will be built on Rice Avenue over State Route 34 and railroad tracks in #Oxnard — will enhance safety by eliminating at-grade crossing where train struck a vehicle with fatal consequences.
  • District 8 on Twitter: SR 18 Paving and Guardrail Project Set to Begin
  • A 30-mile commute now takes 3 hours: Impacts of Hwy. 1 Mud Creek Slide closure hit hard. When landslides shut down part of Highway 1 between Cambria and Carmel, lives change and get more complicated. When the closure lasts more than a year, those complications can multiply exponentially. A year ago, more than 5 million cubic yards of dirt, rocks and other debris slid onto a quarter-mile stretch of the roadway north of Salmon Creek, burying and destroying the pavement. The hillside continued to slide for months, but crews are working dawn to dusk, seven days a week, to reopen the internationally renowned scenic stretch of Highway 1.
  • Funding Approved To Upgrade Hwy 680/4 Interchange. Upgrades to the Interstate Highway 680/state Highway 4 interchange in Pacheco, considered a bottleneck for traffic in Contra Costa County, are closer to reality after the California Transportation Commission approved $34 million in funding for improvements. “I’ve literally been working on this project since day one” of becoming an assemblyman in January 2017, Tim Grayson, D-Concord, said Monday. “I brought that project with me when I moved up to the capital.”
  • IMPROVEMENTS FOR SR-99 IN STANISLAUS COUNTY. Caltrans District 10 and its construction partners have planned a busy schedule of road improvements for State Route 99 (SR-99) throughout Stanislaus County, including significant work on critical interchanges in Modesto, Ceres and Turlock.

P.S.: If you want to learn more about the projects that are likely to be funding, read through the proposed SHOPP, and visit the SB1 website.