🛣️ August Headlines About California Highways

Another month has passed, and so it is time for another accumulation of highway headlines. Hopefully, your summer has been filled with interesting travels along the roads of this state. Speaking of states, I’ll note that I’m currently in the process of the second phase of the site remodel: I’m starting to add maps to the county sign route pages. So far, I’ve done routes in the A, B, C, D, and E groups. I’ll announce when that effort is completed.

Here are your headlines for August:

  • Route Highway 37 through American Canyon? Napans shudder. One idea to save Highway 37 along San Pablo Bay from predicted sea level rise is moving a section north to drier land along a new route through American Canyon and rural southwest Napa County. The Napa County option would mean combining the 40,000 autos using Highway 37 daily with the 45,000 autos using Highway 29 daily through the city of American Canyon. American Canyon is already a notorious traffic chokepoint in Napa County.
  • Caltrans I-5 rehab on track for 2019.  When Santa Clarita Mayor Pro Tem Marsha McLean tried to use the freeway earlier this month, her experience, like many in the Santa Clarita Valley, was a bit tumultuous. As McLean tried getting on the freeway at Lyons Avenue traveling northbound, blocked lanes made it difficult for her to dodge the trucks going by “pretty fast.” That’s because the California Department of Transportation’s Interstate 5 Roadway Rehabilitation Project is well underway. The 15.8-mile stretch of I-5 under construction cuts through the Santa Clarita Valley, and has served daily traffic for 50 years.
  • 405 Freeway widening project moving forward with closure of McFadden Avenue bridge on Aug. 7.  It’s time to start paying attention to the 405 Freeway widening project – and to figure out alternate routes. Beginning next week, bridges crossing over the freeway will lose lanes or – in some cases – be shut down altogether. Construction work, however, will be staggered along the 16-mile stretch to help alleviate traffic jams sure to plague each area as it takes its turn.
  • Trans-Sierra Highway Passes; Interstate 80 Donner Summit. Back in 2016 I attempted as many Trans-Sierra Highway Passes as I could upon my return to California.  I started with Interstate 80 over Donner Summit during the late winter on the way to Lake Tahoe and Virginia City.

  • Suicide-prevention signs placed on freeway overpass. More than a dozen suicide-prevention signs line the overpass that connects the 23 and 118 freeways. The notices were installed by Caltrans in early June in the hope of saving lives along the 2.2-mile stretch of road that crosses above Los Angeles and Princeton avenues. Since the overpass was built in 1993, 11 people have jumped off the two 100-foot-tall bridges, according to the Moorpark Police Department.
  • Trans-Sierra Highway Passes; Sherman Pass Road and Signed County Route J41. Probably the most unique Trans-Sierra Highway Pass I encountered in 2016 was the only one that isn’t a State Maintained Roadway; Sherman Pass Road and Signed County Route J41.
  • The List: Here are the worst commutes in Southern California and how to avoid them. Los Angeles is known around the world for bad traffic. Mornings and evenings alike see stand-stills on freeways across Los Angeles County as commuters go and from work. According to a study released in February by transportation analyst INRIX, Los Angeles has the worst traffic in the world. In 2017, drivers in or near Los Angeles spent 102 hours wading through congestion during peak hours.
  • Lane closures on the 99 as Caltrans re-stripes highway for self-driving cars. Caltrans is announcing on and off-ramp closures and intermittent lane closures on northbound and southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) from the Madera/Merced county line to Harvard Avenue for highway construction. The size of the stripes is being increased from 4 to 6 inches to improve visibility and to enhance the safety and efficiency of the roadway. These stripes also include new reflective material that will help autonomous vehicles better “see” the roadway. To see SB 1 projects in your area, visit RebuildingCA.ca.gov #RebuildingCA
  • Santee forming coalition to deal with State Route 52 issues. Santee residents have long been frustrated by traffic snarls and bottlenecks along state Route 52. The city is determined to get them some relief. Santee Mayor John Minto and City Manager Marlene Best last week got the unanimous support of the Santee City Council to create a State Route 52 Coalition to fast-track needed changes.
  • County narrows Cameron Park interchange designs. At their meeting Tuesday, the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors narrowed down the options for an updated interchange connecting Highway 50 and Cameron Park Drive.   The update is necessary to handle an anticipated increase in traffic flow, according to a report from county Department of Transportation engineers Katie Jackson and Natalie Porter.
  • Trans-Sierra Highways; California State Route 89 over Monitor Pass. After completing California State Route 4 over Pacific Grade Summit and Ebbetts Pass I found myself at the junction with CA 89.  Since I was headed towards CA 108 and Sonora Pass I turned south on CA 89 to cross Monitor Pass.
  • Trans-Sierra Highways; California State Route 4 over Pacific Grade Summit and Ebbetts Pass. Back in late October of 2016 I had a long weekend off and warm spell in the Sierras.  That being the case it gave me a chance to finish some additional Trans-Sierra Highways starting with California State Route 4 over Pacific Grade Summit and Ebbetts Pass.
  • Caltrans District 3 on Twitter: “Pile driving starts Tuesday morning for the Placer 80/65 Interchange Improvements Project.”
  • California bill would tap highway message signs for road revenue. Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law one year ago a 10-year, $52 billion transportation funding deal to benefit state and local roads, trade corridors, and public transit. The governor has said the tax and fee increases are necessary to address a $130 billion backlog in deferred road maintenance. As of Nov. 1, 2017, the new law increased the diesel tax by 20 cents and raised the gas tax by 12 cents. Other vehicle fees in the deal went up Jan. 1, including an increase from 4 percent to 5.75 percent in sales tax applied to diesel purchases.
  • Eagle Prairie Bridge reopens to traffic for Wildwood Days. The Eagle Prairie Bridge, spanning the Eel River between Rio Dell and Scotia, reopened to vehicle traffic on Friday just in time for the fun and festivities associated with the annual Wildwood Days. When the bridge closed for painting in March, the estimated closure time was six months, with a planned reopening in early October.
  • Pacoima is ready to celebrate The Ritchie Valens Memorial Highway in one more reminder of the late Chicano rocker’s legacy. Almost 60 years have passed since Ritchie Valens’ short 17 years of life, but his presence remains alive and well in the San Fernando Valley, more specifically in Pacoima, his hometown. A three-mile stretch down Van Nuys Boulevard near Pacoima City Hall displays more than 50 colorful murals, all visual representations of the San Fernando Valley’s strong heritage, beliefs, and icons.
  • Trans-Sierra Highways; California State Route 108 over Sonora Pass. After completing my journey over the Sierras via California State Route 4 over Ebbetts Pass and CA 89 over Monitor Pass I turned south on US Route 395 in Mono County.  My goal was to cross back over the Sierras via Sonora Pass on CA 108.
  • Study of Silicon Valley’s traffic-choked Highway 85 will resume.  A crucial study examining worsening traffic on Highway 85, the vital Silicon Valley artery that links Cupertino and Mountain View, is expected to resume after months of inactivity. The study, overseen by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, was halted in February after money slated to fund it was tied up in litigation. Now, a $1.2 million loan from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, a Bay Area transportation agency, will allow the study to enter into its next phase, according to Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese.
  • Caltrans District 3 on Twitter: “…a proposal to construct roundabouts on Highway 32 (Nord Avenue) and West Sacramento St. in Chico…”.
  • Proposed toll lanes on Highway 101 draw opposition. A Caltrans project in the works for more than 10 years is just now catching the eye of many concerned residents of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties who would be affected by it – toll lanes on Highway 101. Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Joe Simitian said the proposal to add toll lanes to major freeways emerged when he sat on a transportation committee as a state senator. He had a bad feeling about the lingering financial effects the fees would have on residents who already had a hard time balancing the expenses of living in Silicon Valley.
  • Here are some of the changes you might notice along California’s highways. Californians spend a lot of time on the road, especially in the summer when we set out on vacation or head to the beach. But how well do you know those roads you traverse? Here’s a look at some of the more visible changes along California’s estimated 394,608 miles of lanes.
  • Roadways heavily damaged, forcing closures. It’s hot-pink magenta with a tinge of neon orange. A thick swath of it paints Highway 243 as you drive south from Idyllwild and everything around it, trees, rocks and dirt, climbing the hillside toward AstroCamp and snaking along West Ridge. Several houses on Robin Drive are painted pink, too. This is the Phos-Chek battle line that mostly held, saving countless homes and businesses in the village of Idyllwild.
  • Highway 299 closure continues.  Conditions may change rapidly, but as of Tuesday this week, Highway 299 over Buckhorn Summit remained closed to the traveling public due to impacts from the Carr fire, and there was still no estimated time for reopening. An emergency contract was awarded last week to Tullis, Inc. of Redding to begin restoring the damage and crews are working around the clock on those efforts, according to Caltrans District 2 Information Officer Lupita Franco.
  • Caltrans District10 on Twitter: “…#SanJoaquin Caltrans will perform two 55-hour weekend closures of State Route 12 between SR-160 and I-5 scheduled for Aug. 17-20 & Sept. 7-10, 2018, as the SR-12 Bouldin Island Rehabilitation Project draws near to completion….”
  • Pacific Coast Highway near Big Sur reopens: Before and after photos. A prominent section of Highway 1 near Big Sur reopened last week after 14 months of closure, which happened following a 75-acre landslide in May 2017 that wiped out part of the highway. The mudslide that crashed on California State Route 1 resulted in $1 billion dollars worth of highway damage, burying parts of the coastal stretch under more than 6 million cubic yards of dirt and rock.
  • Legacy of US Route 466 Part 2; Tehachapi to Bakersfield. After completing California State Route 155 and CA 202 I found myself near Tehachapi Pass.  That being the case I trip back down to the Central Valley on CA 58 would have been mundane so I opted for the routing of US Route 466 to through Bakersfield.
  • California State Route 202. After crossing my way over the Sierras via California State Route 155 and Caliente-Bodfish Road I made my way up to Tehachapi to drive the original alignment of US Route 466.  Before heading out on the former alignment of US 466 I went on a side trip on CA 202.
  • California State Route 155. This past week I needed a reprieve from all the smoke from the recent Californian fires.  Looking at the state fire maps I noticed that California State Route 155 and the southern Sierra Range didn’t have any ongoing fires.  That being the case I decided to take the route over Greenhorn Summit to see if I could find some clear outdoor weather.
  • Marin bridge is a goner, barring an act of frog. A dilapidated bridge in West Marin is about to be replaced. The only thing that could stall its demise is the appearance of a California red-legged frog, the species made famous by Mark Twain. The Estero-Americano Bridge, built in 1925 along the border of Marin and Sonoma counties, is showing its age. The bridge deck has a 2‐foot sag, is structurally deficient and is subject to periodic flooding from Americano Creek because it sits low in the landscape, according to Caltrans.
  • August 20 – Aug 31 2018 Cajalco Road I-15 Interchange Project Construction Alert. New Cajalco Road Bridge, new On- and Off-Ramps and Northbound Loop On-Ramp, Bedford Wash Bridge, Cajalco Rd Improvements, Retaining Walls
  • Roundabout planned for Highways 25 at 156. Caltrans plans to build a roundabout at the intersection of Highways 25 and 156 scheduled for completion in August 2021, while it would eventually get replaced by an interchange when the Highway 25 expansion project moves forward at an undetermined time. The roundabout project with a $7.7 million construction cost, to go with $3 million in “support costs”, will be funded by the state as a safety improvement project through the State Highway Operations and Protection Program, or SHOPP.
  • Study: Bay Area Roads Worst In State, Cost Drivers Thousands Each Year. Roads in the Bay Area are the worst in the state and in deteriorating condition, which is costing residents in the region thousands of dollars each year, according to a study released Wednesday. The study published by TRIP—a national nonprofit transportation research group based in Washington, D.C.—found the increased vehicle operating costs due to the state of the roads, the cost of an accident and wasted fuel due to congestion and the increased risk of an accident amount to $2,992 for the average San Francisco-Oakland motorist annually.
  • Map, Transportation and Communication, Roads, American Automobile Association.
  • California State Route 190; a Trans-Sierra Highway that could have been. This past week I decided to take a small scale road trip on California State Route 190 from CA 99 east to the unbuilt section over the Sierra Nevada Range.  While I was in for what turned out to be a fun drive following the course of the Tule River watershed what I found researching the back story of CA 190 was one of the most complex and unusual stories of any California State Highway.  Given that I had a ton of older photos of the eastern segment of CA 190 in the Mojave Desert of Inyo County I thought it was time to put something together for the entire route.
  • Lone Pine-to-Porterville High Sierra Road.  A million-dollar road running to the “Roof of the United States,” with a lateral to Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the United States, will be ready for service to motorists [shortly], according to definite plans which have been drafted by State, county and city officials. … in 1928
  • Signed County Route J28. While returning from the Sierra Nevada Gap in California State Route 190 I decided to take Signed County Route J28 to get CA 65 to access the Fresno Area a little faster.  From CA 190 the route of Signed County Route J28 starts on Road 320.
  • Mathilda Monster to be rebuilt later this year.  Q: I go through the Mathilda Monster/Highway 237 intersection twice a day, five times a week. This is a terrible traffic mess. The city is adjusting timing on the lights and installing new wiring at Innovation Way, but that is not going to do anything to alleviate this horrible place. It’s a dangerous area in so many ways. People need to slow down coming off northbound Highway 101 onto Mathilda, everyone needs to pay attention to the traffic lights and stop signs and to the way they are switching lanes. A terribly designed interchange for traffic that comes into it from too many ways. A  solution can’t be constructed soon enough.
  • Caltrans wants Napa feedback for roundabout design for Highway 29 at Highway 221. Busy Soscol Junction where highways 29 and 221 meet near the Grape Crusher statue could end up with one large roundabout or two smaller ones to ease rush-hour congestion. No roundabouts would be on Highway 29 itself. The highway would rise up on an overpass, no longer burdened with the traffic signals that cause long backups.
  • Opposition grows to toll lanes on 101. Foster City Council has come out against the idea of putting toll lanes on Highway 101 — and it’s in good company, with Mountain View Mayor Lenny Siegel and San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa sharing that view. Caltrans and the San Mateo County Transit Authority are considering adding the lanes to the far left lanes on 101 in both directions from Rengstorff Avenue in Mountain View to the Interstate 380 interchange in South San Francisco.
  • State Route 99 Clinton Avenue On-Ramp Opens. Caltrans District 6 News Release
  • CTC Approves Funding for More than 100 Transportation Projects in Calfornia. Caltrans announced that the California Transportation Commission (CTC) has approved funding for more than 100 transportation projects from the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017.  The funds from the act amount to $690 million, which will be used to make key improvements to maintain transportation infrastructure in California.  The CTC also approved more than $1.3 billion in funding toward nearly 150 transportation projects for additional maintenance, improvements and construction throughout California.
  • Caltrans Accelerates Repairs on State Route 140 in Mariposa County Due to SB 1 Funds – Says Project Will Provide A Safer and Smoother Commute for Tourists, Commercial Traffic, And Locals.  Caltrans will repair more than six lane miles of State Route 140 (SR-140) from the SR-49/SR-140 junction to Whitlock Road in Mariposa County, due to the funds from Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), the Road Repair and  Accountability Act of 2017. “SR-140 is one of the main gateways into Yosemite National Park and the highway is an essential link in supplying goods and services to the Mariposa, El Portal, and Yosemite communities,” Caltrans Director Laurie Berman said. “This SB 1 project will provide a safer and smoother commute for tourists, commercial traffic and locals, whose livelihood depends on the good condition of the highway.”
  • State SB1 Funds to Help Rehab Highway 14 Sierra Highway Offramp. The California Transportation Commission has approved funding for more than 100 transportation projects funded entirely or at least partly by $690 million from SB 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, including rehab of the southbound Highway 14 offramp to Sierra Highway. “These projects are a just a small portion of the key improvements we need to maintain California’s critical transportation infrastructure,” Caltrans Director Laurie Berman said in a statement Monday. “Throughout the state, projects like these are being completed through SB 1 investments.”
  • Improvements coming to dangerous stretch of 60 Freeway east of Moreno Valley.  A treacherous stretch of road near Moreno Valley will soon be getting some much-needed improvements. Drivers who use the portion of State Route 60 that traverses “the Badlands” say the proposed changes are essential to making the road safer.
  • Award of $71.5 million state grant paves way for construction of truck lanes on 60 Freeway through Riverside County’s Badlands. Commuters and truckers weary of negotiating the steep, narrow, accident-prone section of the 60 Freeway through the Badlands between Moreno Valley and Beaumont can look forward to new truck lanes to separate cars from semitrailers. In the works for years, the $138 million project now has all the cash it needs. And, the Riverside County Transportation Commission, the regional agency spearheading the project, plans to launch construction next summer, said John Standiford, deputy executive director.
  • August 21: This Date in Los Angeles Transportation History. 1933:  Firestone Boulevard, sometimes known as Manchester Avenue, is widened from 40 feet to 74 feet and becomes part of the California state highway system.
  • A Disappointing But Thoroughly Appropriate End to the Prunedale Bypass. It should be noted, for posterity or something, that the Prunedale Bypass has suffered one final ignominious setback. This time, it came on Oct. 4 in the form of a governor’s veto. And, once again, it left local transportation officials disappointed and feeling powerless. But in the context of the Prunedale Bypass, a gubernatorial veto seems poetically appropriate.
  • First Bridge Demolished to Make Way for I-405 Improvements. Last week, demolition of the McFadden Avenue bridge in Huntington Beach began, making way for 16 miles of improvements along the I-405 between SR-73 and I-605. The bridge is the first of more than 18 to be rebuilt, widened or replaced as part of the project.
  • Caltrans Announces over $2 Billion in Funding for California Transportation Infrastructure, Rail & San Diego Projects. Caltrans today announced that the California Transportation Commission (CTC) approved funding for more than 100 transportation projects funded entirely or at least partly by $690 million from SB 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. “These projects are a just a small portion of the key improvements we need to maintain California’s critical transportation infrastructure,” said Caltrans Director Laurie Berman. “Throughout the state, projects like these are being completed through SB 1 investments.”
  • Portion of Sierra Highway undergoing lane closures may soon see city takeover. Residents driving along Sierra Highway between Newhall Avenue and Friendly Valley Parkway may notice an unusual sign. There is a 14U sign, marking a four-mile section of the state route maintained by the California Department of Transportation. This marks a portion of Sierra Highway that can be transferred from Caltrans to the city of Santa Clarita, upon an agreement between the city and Caltrans, without requiring further state legislative action.
  • Local infrastructure projects funded. The California Transportation Commission recently approved funding for more than 100 transportation projects funded entirely or at least partly by $690 million from SB 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, a recent press release from Caltrans announced. In Siskiyou County, a $22.9 million bridge project will replace the Klamath River Bridge on State Route 263 from north of the Shasta River Bridge to State Route 96 near the city of Yreka, and State Route 96 east of State Route 263 in Siskiyou County. This project was allocated $18.5 million, $9.2 million in funding was due to SB 1.
  • $2 Billion-Plus in Funding Approved for Local Transportation Projects.  Hundreds of transportation projects were approved for funding Tuesday by the California Transportation Commission under a state Senate bill that was signed into law in 2017, according to Caltrans. The projects will be funded entirely or partly by $690 million from SB-1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017.
  • Funding approved for hundreds of transportation infrastructure, rail and local projects. Caltrans announced that the California Transportation Commission (CTC) approved funding for more than 100 transportation projects funded entirely or at least partly by $690 million from SB 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. Area projects being funded include…
  • More than $2 Billion in Funding Approved for Hundreds of Transportation Infrastructure, Rail and Local Projects More than $690 Million Funded Entirely or in Part by SB 1. Caltrans today announced that the California Transportation Commission (CTC) approved funding for more than 100 transportation projects funded entirely or at least partly by $690 million from SB 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. Area projects being funded include…
  • State approves funding for several Ventura County transportation projects. The Ventura County projects, at a total cost of nearly $21 million, are: …
  • Signed County Route G1. In December of 2016 I visited Signed County Route G1 and Fremont Peak State Park in San Benito County.
  • To Big Sur and California State Route 1 via the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road.  This past week I just took California State Route 1 south from Monterey to CA 46 near Cambria for the first time since the Mud Creek Slide reopened on July 18th.  The Mud Creek Slide was the final major slide and the biggest even along CA 1 in Big Sur occurring on May 20th of 2017.  Previously in February the 60 inches of rain over the 2017 winter took their toll and caused the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge to be condemned in addition to Paul’s Slide near Lucia.  By the end of May 2017 the situation for CA 1 in Big Sur was extremely grim with access to the communities of Gorda and Lucia having access to the outside world via an easterly trek over the Santa Lucia Range on the one-lane Nacimiento-Fergusson Road.
  • California State Route 1 in Big Sur; the Mud Creek Slide reopens. During the rainy season of 2017 the Big Sur Area received more than 60 inches of rain which led to various notable landslide closures such as the condemning of the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge and Paul’s Slide.  The largest landslide ever along California State Route 1 in the Big Sur Region occurred on May 20th of 2017 near Mud Creek.  The Mud Creek Slide blocked an approximately quarter mile section of CA 1 as it dumped eight million tons of dirt onto the highway and ocean below.  CA 1 was buried up to 80 feet in places drawing into question the viability of even reopening the highway through Big Sur.
  • Few freeways will be widened over next decades. Q: One possible solution to improving local traffic congestion — pour some concrete. Make Interstate 880 between San Jose and Oakland a minimum six lanes in each direction. Same for Highway 101 between San Jose and San Francisco. Make Interstate 5 between Sacramento and Los Angeles at least three lanes in each direction. Make Highway 152 east of Gilroy and Highway 37 between Vallejo and Novato freeways. Add another lane to Highway 101 between Morgan Hill and Highway 25.
  • Los Gatos: Deadly intersection will be improved. Almost a year has passed since 84-year-old Sal Sanchez was killed in a crosswalk on his way to breakfast in downtown Los Gatos, triggering calls for a stop light at the busy intersection of Highway 9 and Massol Avenue. The intersection won’t be getting a stoplight, but plans recently approved unanimously by the Los Gatos Town Council call for a $112,000 LED flashing beacon to be installed.

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