🛣 Headlines and Articles about California Highways – April 2019

Ah, April. A month that has moved us past the heavy rains of the winters, and allowed work to start on highway repairs. A month that started with significant updates to the highway pages. But that process never ends, and it starts, as always, with more headlines (♠  indicates headlines that were incorporated into the March highway updates):

  • ♠ Renters of Caltrans-owned homes in South Pasadena get to buy them $970,000 below market. It’s a modern-day story of David vs. Goliath. Three long-time tenants of homes within the path of the now-defunct, 6.2-mile 710 Freeway extension fought the mighty Caltrans in court and won. After decades of waiting, Angeles Flores, Marysia Wojick and Priscela Izuierdo received an offer from Caltrans last year to buy the homes they’ve been renting for a price that was hundreds of thousands of dollars less than any home on the market in tony South Pasadena, yet at a price that took into account inflation.
  • ♠ New transportation tax would focus on new bay crossing. Q: If they ever put a Bay Area-wide sales tax on the ballot, what will the likely projects be? Hopefully, another bridge or BART crossing across the bay.
  • ♠ Changes coming to Highway 17 at Big Moody Curve: Roadshow. Q: I drove past another accident last week at 7:45 a.m. near Big Moody Curve on Highway 17. One vehicle had turned over and another was also damaged with all lanes of southbound traffic backed up for miles. Clearly, the sandbags at this location are not an adequate fix of the situation at this dangerous curve.
  • ♠ State of emergency: Newsom allots $2 million for Highway 17 firebreak. Ed Orre, chief forester for Cal Fire’s Santa Clara County Unit, has been haunted by images of the main thoroughfare connecting Paradise with the outside world. He can’t help but imagine a similar scenario unfolding on Highway 17 in the hills above Lexington Reservoir.
  • ♠ State Route 41 roadway striping project begins, prompting lane closures. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) announced a roadway striping project beginning Wednesday, April 3, that will result in one-way traffic control and lane closures on several portions of State Route 41 in Kings, Fresno and Madera Counties.
  • ♠ The Birth And Life Of The Freeway In Hayes Valley (US 101, Route 480). How do you get around Hayes Valley? Before today’s debates about bike lanes, bulb-outs, parking spaces, taxis and ride-sharing, the answer for many had been a double-decker extension of the Central Freeway that stretched from Octavia into Western Addition. Patricia’s Green and a condo boom have taken the physical space of the concrete spur. But at one time it was the midpoint of twentieth-century freeway dreams – and many controversies.

  • ♠ Apple offers $9.7 million for transportation projects in Cupertino. Although Apple is offering to spend $9.7 million for five bike and pedestrian improvement projects in Cupertino, the City Council suggested it expects a better traffic-relief proposal before not pursuing an employee head tax on local businesses. “I have to say, I’m a little disappointed at the funding level,” Vice Mayor Liang Chao said at the council meeting Tuesday night. “When we were considering the tax, the city would have gotten $10 million in ongoing income,” Chao added.
  • ♠ American Canyon City Council talks traffic, traffic, traffic. Highway 29 through American Canyon is being targeted for congestion-easing changes in coming years, though the supposed big fix of creating a wider, six-lane version remains a distant, and perhaps fading, dream. The American Canyon City Council on Tuesday heard a transportation update. The focus was on such things as coordinated Highway 29 traffic signals that could come this year and a key Devlin Road reliever route segment now set for construction in 2020.
  • ♠ These Bay Area bridges and overpasses have been deemed ‘structurally deficient’. America, it seems, has a bridge problem. According to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, the U.S. has 47,000 “structurally deficient” bridges over which 178 million Americans cross each day. At the country’s current pace of bridge repair, it would require 80 years to bring all of these bridges up to the desired standards. This, for self-evident reasons, is not great.
  • ♠ Could new bridge across the bay lead to parking woes in S.F.. Q: Another bridge across the bay from Highway 238 to Interstate 380 is the best large project that could be built with a new tax. Still another bridge closer to San Francisco would be desirable, and there is still interest in building a parallel Bay Bridge. The bridge south of there would be better for so much traffic that isn’t headed to or from San Francisco, and can bypass it.
  • ♠ El Campo Road Intersection. The El Campo Road/South County Highway Access Modifications Traffic Diversion Assessment considers the effects of potential closures of crossing access for non-emergency vehicles at four at-grade intersections on U.S. Highway 101 between the Traffic Way and Los Berros Road interchanges. Findings from this study helped the Board and other stakeholders reach a decision regarding closure. It will also help determine next steps for implementation at this site.
  • ♠ Trucks on the 210 Freeway keep crashing onto the Gold Line. A fix could get expensive. In April of last year, a traffic collision in the middle of the night sent a FedEx truck crashing across the 210 Freeway in Pasadena and onto the tracks of the Metro Gold Line, which is separated from the roadway by a squat concrete barrier. The collision shut down the Gold Line through the San Gabriel Valley for more than a day, and caused $137,959 in damage to train tracks, power poles and overhead wires.
  • ♠ LAX expansion plans call for a new terminal east of Sepulveda Boulevard. Documents released Thursday by Los Angeles airport officials call for an expansion and reorganization of the nation’s second-busiest airport, including changes to existing runways and the construction of a passenger terminal east of Sepulveda Boulevard. In a 142-page environmental document, city airport officials said the expansion would bring more sophisticated facilities for travelers, improve runway safety, and add at least 21 gates for domestic and international flights.
  • ♠ No left turns at Highway 101, El Campo in SLO County: SLOCOG. If you are trying to turn onto Highway 101 from anywhere between Arroyo Grande and Nipomo, you’ll soon want to double-check the signage before you speed out. On Wednesday, the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments, San Luis Obispo County’s transportation-governing board, recommended stopping left-hand turns at four intersections along the roadway — including El Campo Road — to cut down on unsafe crossings in the area. “It’s, I think, high past time to do something about this,” Arroyo Grande City Councilman Jimmy Paulding said at the meeting. (Paulding is the city’s representative on the board.)
  • ♠ For Alhambra, “local control” of the I-710 stub depends first on Caltrans. When he introduced legislation that would prohibit Caltrans from building a surface route or tunnel between the I-10 and the I-210 freeways, state Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada) said he had one key goal in mind. It was to get the two stubs of the unfinished I-710 freeway out of the state highway system and give them to the cities affected by spillover traffic.
  • ♠ Signal Removal on U.S. 101 Gets Green Light After 34 Years (Historical Article) . The project appeared simple enough. There were four traffic lights on U.S. 101 in Santa Barbara. The state wanted them removed. The city wanted them removed. So the state conducted a preliminary study. The year was 1954. But the city rejected the state’s design for an elevated freeway through Santa Barbara. Then the state rejected the city’s design for a depressed freeway. And for the next three decades more than a hundred designs were proposed and rejected, more than $3 million was spent by Caltrans on studies, dozens of environmental impact reports were written and 18 separate city councils debated the issue.
  • ♠ The Top 10 U.S. Highways that Should be Torn Down. North Claiborne Avenue was once the heart of the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans. A vibrant commercial corridor with a wide, shady median, it was a key shopping and gathering place for the neighborhood in the early part of the last century.
  • ♠ The Slowest Freeway In LA Is Not All Of Them. Here’s The Real Answer. Soon, all across Los Angeles, friendly bets will (perhaps) be settled by a group of L.A.-based journalists and data scientists. They say they’ve figured out exactly which Los Angeles freeway is actually, really, truly, for real, no joke the slowest. And they’re giving KPCC/LAist an exclusive on their results. The project — “The Slowest Road In LA” — is led by Gabriel Kahn and Mingxuan Yue as part of Crosstown — a data-driven effort based out of the USC Annenberg School for Journalism that’s looking for new ways to understand L.A., and what it’s like to live here.
  • ♠ 14 Freeway To Face Twelfth Round Of Lane Closures From Santa Clarita To Palmdale. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is set to close portions of the 14 Freeway for a pavement rehabilitation project to improve the condition of the lanes and create a smoother ride for motorists.
  • ♠ Rebuilding Continues on Bridges Damaged in Montecito Debris Flows. Installation of the roadway deck on the Montecito Creek Bridge on Highway 192/East Valley Road in Montecito is the most visible progress in the effort to repair and rebuild spans damaged or destroyed by the Jan. 9, 2018, flash flooding and debris flows. Crews last week began installing the prefabricated concrete sections of the deck for the bridge at the base of Parra Grande Lane, between Hot Springs and Sycamore Canyon roads, according to Caltrans.
  • ♠ RTC recognizes need for safety along Highway 9 corridor. The more people that get involved in an issue and the more people that speak out, the more likely it is to get fixed, said Ross Hitchen, stepfather of Josh Jaumouille-Howard. Jaumouille-Howard was killed Feb. 21 by a passing truck while walking on a shoulder of Highway 9 in Felton. Hitchen spoke at the Regional Transportation Commission meeting Thursday morning in Watsonville.
  • ♠ State Route 243 is Open From Idyllwild to Lake Fulmor. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is pleased to announce that a portion of State Route 243 (SR-243) in Idyllwild will be REOPENING TODAY at 3 p.m. Access from Idyllwild to Lake Fulmor on SR-243 will now be allowed. Additionally, the public will be able to access the Lake Fulmor Day-Use Area as well as Hall Decker Rd.
  • ♠ Full Closures set to begin for I-710 Pavement Rehabilitation and Bridge Widening Project. If you’ve taken a drive on Interstate 710 (I-710) through Vernon and Commerce recently, you might have noticed the brigade of cranes, pile drivers, and heavy-duty construction equipment near the side of the highway. You also might be wondering what it is exactly that crews are working on. Caltrans is almost a year into a $150.7 million pavement rehabilitation and bridge widening project on I-710 between Slauson Ave in Bell and State Route 60 (SR-60) in East Los Angeles.
  • Advocates Want Protected Bike Lanes to Mitigate Caltrans Ramp Construction. Tomorrow/Wednesday and Thursday the California Department of Transportation is holding outreach meetings in Emeryville and Oakland for its MacArthur Maze Vertical Clearance Project (exact times and locations are at the bottom of this post). The project will either raise, lower, replace, or rebuild ramps that connect I-580, 80, and 880 to allow over-sized trucks to avoid using surface streets in West Oakland.
  • Falling concrete once again shuts down part of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. For the third time since February, falling pieces of concrete forced the California Highway Patrol on Friday to shut down a lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Shortly after 2 p.m., a motorist reported pieces of concrete had fallen from the upper deck to the lower deck, said CHP Officer Andrew Barclay. Crews immediately responded to the scene and completed repairs around 3:30 p.m., he said. One lane was blocked for roadwork, but has since reopened. Caltrans inspectors were also on the scene to survey the damage.
  • More concrete falls from upper deck of San Rafael-Richmond Bridge, CHP says. More concrete fell from the upper deck of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge on Friday afternoon, prompting a temporary closure of some eastbound lanes on the lower deck, according to the California Highway Patrol. In a statement on Friday afternoon, Caltrans spokeswoman Janis Mara said the fallen concrete resulted from ongoing construction work to replace expansion joints on the upper deck. The construction is itself a response to an earlier incident in February in which a failed bridge joint caused chunks of concrete to fall on the lower deck.
  • Assemblyman calls for new Richmond-San Rafael Bridge after second mishap. A state assemblyman has called for funding to replace the haggard Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, where chunks of concrete fell from the upper deck for the second time in two months on Friday. “Enough with the Band-Aids — let’s have a bridge that will last for generations,” said Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, who was sitting in traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge on Friday afternoon. He had gone to lunch with his parents in Walnut Creek, then taken a circuitous route back to Marin to avoid the troubled span.
  • Caltrans cost swells on San Francisco Highway 101 tunnels. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger celebrated when the California Transportation Commission voted, despite a host of warnings, to pay a contractor more than $1 billion to build two tunnels and a stretch of road outside San Francisco nine years ago. Schwarzenegger said the project’s new approach, which aimed to cap public expenses and shift responsibility to the private sector, would serve as a “shining example” of an innovative way to improve the state’s highways while saving taxpayer dollars.
  • Never too late to stop the bulldozer. How late is too late for communities in the path of urban freeway construction to save their neighborhoods from the road’s negative impacts? Many may be familiar with the story of Jane Jacobs and other Greenwich Village community activists. In 1960s they opposed the construction of the Lower Manhattan Expressway, which would have cut a swathe through modest-income and ethnically diverse neighborhood. All told, a total of 156 feet of the highway was built before the project was forced to stop.
  • Nonprofits get closer to buying properties along 710 Freeway stub on the cheap. A bill that would allow the sale of Caltrans-owned buildings located in the path of the defunct 710 Freeway extension to be sold at very affordable prices to the nonprofit organizations that occupy them was approved by a key legislative committee Tuesday. Senate Bill 7, authored by state Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-Glendale, received a 7-0 vote and will be headed to the Senate Appropriations Committee in a few weeks, a committee chaired by Portantino.
  • The 210 Freeway Remains a Dire Threat to Gold Line Safety – Fixes Needed Yesterday. Trucks and cars have crashed into the Gold Line right-of-way eleven times in the last decade – four times in 2018 alone. To date, these vehicles have not hit a train or a station, but have extensively damaged rail infrastructure. These crashes cost Metro a great deal to manage and repair. For just five of these crashes (all the data available) Metro’s estimated agency costs total $750,000. Overall totals are easily in the millions. The crashes subject transit riders to multiple-day service gaps and delays.
  • State plans new 4-lane expressway for Rte. 25. Instead of just adding two lanes to the existing State Route 25 between Hollister and Gilroy, state officials are proposing the construction of a new four-lane expressway, using the current two-lane highway as a parallel frontage road.
  • Caltrans Homes Sell Low in Price, But There’s a Catch. That old adage, if it’s too good to be true it probably isn’t might apply to some South Pasadena homes controlled by Caltrans’.  Some homes are finally being sold in South Pasadena. Some current renters might be overly enthusiastic when they hear they’re going for far less than the current market rate, some ridiculously low as $24,000. Yes, but those in the know, longtime freeway fighters, say there’s a catch.
  • O.C. tollway agency won’t renew contract with consultants who billed $185 an hour to read news. The public agency that manages Orange County’s network of toll roads is ending its multimillion-dollar public outreach campaign with consultants who charged up to $185 an hour to read news stories and has launched an external audit of the consulting bills. News that the agency would let the contract expire in June without renewing it, a move that one board member said would save $1.5 million, came at a contentious meeting of agency leaders Thursday and follows a Times article last month that detailed some of the questionable payments.
  • Aux Lane on Route 133 Commuter Alert. #CommuterAlert on a project to improve traffic flow on southbound I-405 between State Route 133 and University Drive in Irvine. See below for traffic impact. @CaltransOC
  • Freeway Through Rivas Canyon. Tbt the time some fool thought it might be a good idea to put a freeway from Rivas canyon through to Tarzana.
  • Partial closure of Ortega Highway near Lake Elsinore to continue into weekend. Repair work on the Ortega (74) Highway just west of Lake Elsinore where a rock slide damaged the corridor got underway today, but the highway will remain partially closed going into the weekend, meaning ongoing traffic disruptions, according to Caltrans. Watsonville-based Granite Construction Inc. was hired by the agency to reconfigure the segment where the slide occurred just below Lookout Point, roughly five miles west of the Lake Elsinore city limits.
  • Road to Yosemite: Caltrans Strengthening Slope on Highway 120 East of Buck Meadows to Prevent Erosion and Rockslides. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is preparing a highway improvement project that will  strengthen a slope on State Route 120 – about 5 miles east of Buck Meadows – to prevent further erosion and future rock and landslides. Work is scheduled to start Monday, April 15, 2019, with the project expected to finish in June 2019. Work work will be performed weekdays from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., with Friday’s work ending at 3:00 p.m. so that the highway is clear for weekend visitors and tourists to the region.
  • Campus Parkway Project Status. The current phase of the Campus Parkway project, which will extend the expressway over Highway 140, is nearly 65 percent complete and remains on schedule to be finished in the first quarter of 2020.
  • A bicyclist and pedestrian are dead: Why aren’t the bridges over the 710 being harnessed for safety?. When 30-year-old Tess Rothstein was forced to ride a section of street that lacked an unprotected bike lane in San Francisco, she was killed by the driver of an oncoming truck just feet before reaching the area which separated bikes and cars on Howard Street. Within a week, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency removed part of the parking along Howard Street to extend the protected bike lane. Just months after 68-year-old resident and local advocate Robert Bennett was killed by the driver of a car at 23rd Street and Harrison Street in Oakland, the city’s Department of Transportation immediately altered the intersection to be more amenable toward pedestrians, especially older citizens who need more time to cross streets.
  • Drivers express frustration over Orange County toll road transition. Thousands of drivers use the 241 toll road to commute to and from south Orange County every day. It’s often a miserable commute in the afternoon, with so many cars backed up waiting to transition to the eastbound 91 Freeway. “It’s just frustrating,” said commuter Caryn Chavez, who uses the toll road almost every weekday. “Drivers are getting frustrated. The stress levels are higher and you can see that on the drive.”
  • I-10 Corridor Coalition gets FHWA truck parking grant. The four state departments of transportation (DOTs) that comprise the US I-10 Corridor Coalition have received a federal grant to help fund the development of a program alerting commercial truck drivers to available public parking spaces at Interstate 10 rest areas.
  • New Plaza Connects Trolley Plaza to PedEast Border Crossing. A new plaza opened Monday to connect San Diego’s transit system to the San Ysidro Port of Entry’s Pedestrian East processing facility, adding convenience to foot travelers en route to Mexico. The newly constructed plaza and walkway are part of an ongoing construction project to ease travel for the tens of thousands of people who pass through the world’s busiest land border crossing every day.
  • Portion of Highway 74 to Open for Limited Travel This Weekend. A stretch of state Route 74 between Hemet and Mountain Center that was severely damaged during the Valentine’s Day storm will be opened to limited travel this weekend, Caltrans announced Wednesday. The 15-mile segment of Highway 74 that was shut down after whole sections collapsed during the Feb. 14 floods that inflicted more than $70 million in damage throughout Riverside County will be open to travel, under escort, starting 6 a.m. Saturday, officials said.
  • I-5 Construction Closes Main Street Carpool Ramp. Work has begun on the I-5 Central Project between SR-55 and SR-57. The I-5/Main Street carpool on- and off-ramps have been permanently closed to allow crews to perform preliminary work leading up to the bridge demolition in early summer. Other activities include removing overhead signs, adjusting traffic signal adjustments, restriping lanes and installing concrete barriers on southbound Main Street, reducing it to two lanes near the Discovery Cube.
  • Public Asked to Weigh In on I-5/El Toro Road Improvements Thursday. Caltrans and OCTA are seeking public input on proposed alternatives for improving the El Toro Road interchange at the I-5 freeway near the border of Laguna Hills, Laguna Woods, and Lake Forest. The project goal is to reduce traffic congestion on the freeway and surrounding streets by improving on-ramps and off-ramps and optimizing traffic signal operations to keep traffic moving. Currently in the environmental review and preliminary engineering phase,  the I-5 El Toro interchange project is part of OC Go (also known as Measure M), Orange County’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements.
  • New SR-29 Napa River Bridge (Lincoln Avenue) open. Congratulations Partners! New SR-29 Napa River Bridge (Lincoln Avenue) open to bicyclists, pedestrians, tourists and merchants! #community #partnership. @NVTA_NapaValley @CaltransHQ #CityofCalistoga
  • A proposed project on US Highway 101 in Ventura County. The public is invited to attend “scoping meetings” to talk about a proposed project on US Highway 101 in Ventura County. Meetings in #ThousandOaks tonight at Civic Arts Plaza and #Camarillo on April 22 @GoVCTC
  • Portions of Storm-Damaged Highway 74 Begin to Slowly Reopen, With Conditions. A stretch of state Route 74 between Hemet and Mountain Center that was severely damaged during the Valentine’s Day storm was opened to limited travel Saturday and remain available to commuters, with restrictions, in the coming days. According to officials, the 15-mile segment of Highway 74 that was shut down after whole sections collapsed during the Feb. 14 floods that inflicted more than $70 million in damage throughout Riverside County was opened to travel, under escort, Saturday morning.
  • Corona wants commuters heading to 91 Freeway to stop using Green River Road. Corona officials hope to relieve pressure on two city streets that routinely clog in the morning rush hour by making other routes to the 91 Freeway more attractive to regional commuters. Located near the edge of Orange County, Corona is home to one of Southern California’s most notoriously congested stretches of highway — one that funnels commuter traffic from all over the Inland Empire toward coastal jobs. The 91 is so jammed that — on even the best of mornings — commuters routinely cut through the city of 165,000 and transform Green River Road and Serfas Club Drive into gridlock.
  • Despite recent victories, Marin-Sonoma Narrows project still has last funding hurdle. Completion of the Highway 101 widening project through the Marin-Sonoma Narrows is now closer to reality after two funding roadblocks were cleared, but there is still one hurdle  left, transportation officials said. A lawsuit filed by Randall Whitney, a resident of Lafayette and Oakland, against the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in August challenging Regional Measure 3, the six-year toll increase for the seven state-owned bridges in the Bay Area that was approved by voters last year, continues to block key funding. The revenue was set to provide $120 million to the Narrows project, which seeks to widen the highway from four to six lanes between Petaluma and Novato.
  • Editorial: Safety on Richmond-San Rafael Bridge is paramount. The Richmond-San Rafael Bridge is having so much trouble with chunks of its heavily traveled roadbed falling — sometimes onto passing cars below — that Caltrans needs to conduct a thorough study and consider extra safety measures to protect the public. Last Friday, at about 7:30 p.m., a motorist reported to authorities that two “baseball-sized” chunks of concrete hit her windshield as she was driving on the eastbound lower deck of the 63-year-old bridge.
  • Caltrans hosting meeting on upcoming projects in South Lake Tahoe area. This coming construction season is setting up to be busy one on the California side of South Shore. In an effort to better inform the public, Caltrans is hosting a public open house April 24 to provide information regarding three impactful projects slated for this summer.
  • Rincon Trail Project gets a little closer to real. The city has released an update on the much-anticipated Rincon Multi-Use Trail that will connect the city of Carpinteria to Rincon County Park. The new community asset is scheduled for completion before the end of 2020 as a condition of the Caltrans Linden-Casitas Interchange Project. City permitting for the project to widen and improve the freeway through Carpinteria included improving coastal access for cyclists and pedestrians.
  • Salsipuedes Creek Bridge Replacement Continues. A project to replace the Salsipuedes Creek Bridge and construct a retaining wall and fish passage on Highway 1 near Lompoc continues next week with a lane reduction/ temporary traffic signal to assist motorists traveling through this area. This traffic signal will be in operation 24/7 through May of 2020 and will maintain one-way reversing traffic control with the width of each lane reduced to 11 ½ feet.
  • Caltrans Ready to Make Push on the Reconstruction of Highway 101 Between Eureka and Arcata; Public Meeting on the Issue Scheduled for Next Week. It looks as though Caltrans is preparing a big push forward on its years-in-the-making effort to rebuild Highway 101 between Eureka and Arcata, along what we’ve grown accustomed to calling “the safety corridor.” Caltrans has called a public meeting on the project for the evening of Tuesday, April 23 at the Wharfinger Building, where the agency promises to provide the public with an overview of the project and take questions.
  • Welcome to USA-Highways. I have always been a roadgeek. I grew up on stories of summer vacations my mother used to take out west when she was growing up. Some of the best memories I have from my childhood are traveling to Pennsylvania with my grandparents, a road atlas in hand, watching for signs and being my grandpa’s “navigator.” Grandpa even taught me how to look for mile markers along the way. His teaching paid off once when I caught us going the wrong direction through Maryland one trip and got us turned around, even before I knew how to drive a car! Anyway, once I got my driver’s license and a car, my love for the open road only grew.
  • Finding the money to fix and modernize Southern California’s interstates. America’s interstate highways are aging and inadequate — and need to be replaced. That’s the conclusion of a major study, requested by Congress, and released last December by the well-respected Transportation Research Board. This expert study estimated that if rebuilding projects were carried out conventionally, it would cost Americans $57 billion per year for the next two decades. Even worse news: At that slow pace of reconstruction, by 2040 pavement conditions and traffic congestion would actually be worse than they are today.
  • Caltrans Lies Again: Widening 5 Freeway Will “Minimize Congestion… Reduce Pollution”. At this week’s Metro Roads Committee, Caltrans presented another misleading video claiming that their 5 Freeway widening projects will “reduce pollution” and “minimize congestion.” Given the past 80 years of highway building have resulted in massive congestion increases and climate-threatening pollution increases, it is clear that Caltrans is lying.
  • Richmond-San Rafael Bridge studies to assess decks’ lifespan. A series of studies could determine how many years the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge has left until its decks would be replaced. State transportation agencies are set to kick off a $300,000 study next week to analyze the condition of the bridge decks. The study will be one part of a larger assessment headed by the Bay Area Toll Authority and Caltrans of several of the Bay Area’s state-owned bridges. The Richmond-San Rafael Bridge will be first in line following recent incidents of concrete falling from the upper deck.
  • Santa Rosa upbeat on finding millions of dollars for long-planned footbridge. Santa Rosa has yet to secure the millions of dollars needed to build a long-planned bridge for cyclists and pedestrians to cross Highway 101, but that’s not stopping city officials and consultants from pressing ahead with design and location plans for a span they hope to start building in less than two years. The bridge is touted by the city and its supporters as a necessary connector that will facilitate safer nonautomotive access over the freeway near its high-traffic interchanges at College Avenue and Steele Lane. They serve Coddingtown Mall, the nearby Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit station, Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa High School and nearby neighborhoods.
  • Express lanes governance takes shape. After the Express Lanes project broke ground in San Mateo County last month, local officials have all but determined a governance structure for the new tolling facility coming to Highway 101. A joint powers authority is one vote away from becoming official and that body will decide how toll revenue — expected to be between $10 million and $20 million — is spent. It will also have the authority to implement an equity program offering discounts to low-income motorists, among other responsibilities.
  • Richmond-San Rafael Bridge To Undergo Battery Of Tests. After several public health scares, the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge is getting a critical health inspection. It’s a review that will take one year to complete and it could provide more answers as to how many years of service the bridge has left. Recent episodes of concrete falling from the upper roadway have placed renewed focus on the integrity of the bridge, with some state lawmakers saying it has as little as 20 years left. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission wants more information before making that kind of determination.
  • More 405 Freeway closures in O.C. expected this week as bridge work continues. Drivers on the 405 Freeway in Orange County will have more closures to contend with this week — including a complete shutdown overnight Saturday — as work continues on a massive multi-year effort to widen a stretch of the interstate. Starting as early as Wednesday, lanes on the 405 will be closed intermittently between Euclid Street and Harbor Boulevard so crews can demolish part of a freeway bridge over the Santa Ana River, according to the Orange County Transportation Authority.
  • Inside the Push to Tear Down an Oakland Freeway. When a government official takes a reporter out to see some concrete colossus, it’s usually to show it off. Not this time. On a recent spring morning, Matt Nichols, transportation director of Oakland, California, gazed down through a chain-link fence walling off a sidewalk overpass from the massive sunken freeway below — I-980, which runs between downtown Oakland and the historically black neighborhood of West Oakland.
  • Report shows 14 ‘structurally deficient’ bridges on Central Coast, Caltrans reassures safety. Americans use bridges daily to commute and throughout the country, there are more than 47,000 deemed “structurally deficient” by the American Road and Transportation Builders. In its annual report, there are 14 bridges identified on the Central Coast. But Caltrans is reassuring the public that these and all bridges, inspected every two years, are safe to travel on and under.
  • Tahoe Roads: What’s going on with US 50 project in South Lake Tahoe? (opinion). The typical construction season in the Lake Tahoe Basin lasts May 1 – Oct. 15. The Caltrans U.S. 50 project in El Dorado County was suspended for the winter. In the meantime, the construction staff reviewed upcoming season work and design plans, walked door -to door, notifying all businesses and properties within the work zone of the project and answered any questions. The $57 million South Lake Tahoe project stretches from the “Y” intersection at California Route 89 to the Trout Creek Bridge and this year marks its third full season of construction work. The scope of work is to rebuild existing drainage systems, widen and repave the highway as well as reconstruct curbs, gutters and sidewalks along U.S. 50 and Lake Tahoe Boulevard.
  • California roads not designed to handle wildfire evacuations. Californians got a deadly wakeup call when more than 27,000 Paradise residents trying to escape the Camp Fire got caught in a nightmare traffic jam. The 2018 catastrophe illuminated the grim reality that road systems throughout the state are not designed to handle a sudden evacuation.
  • Caltrans ‘Pauses’ Big MacArthur Maze Project After Blasts From Cities, Residents. A Caltrans plan to rebuild portions of the MacArthur Maze to accommodate larger trucks has hit a roadblock, for now, in the form of angry local officials and community groups who say the agency failed to tell them the project was coming and performed only a cursory study of its potentially far-reaching environmental effects.
  • Half Moon Bay to get prepped for emergency. Local and regional experts will gather in Half Moon Bay May 4 for a disaster preparedness event specifically tailored to those living on the coast. The Coastside Community Preparedness Day is a City Council priority and has proven to be “very successful” in preparing residents for emergencies, Management Analyst Corie Stocker said at a meeting April 16.
  • Raised curbed median to be installed along Palmdale Road from 395 to Cobalt in Victorville. Construction on a new raised curb median along Palmdale Road between U.S. Highway 395 and Cobalt Road in Victorville is expected to begin in May. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is expected to start work on the safety project the first week of May with construction taking place Monday – Friday from 6 am – 3 pm with flagging.
  • Rte 108/Rte 120 Traffic Signal. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is preparing a highway improvement project that will upgrade the junction of State Route 108 (SR-108) and SR-120. This location is also referred to as Yosemite Junction.
  • State Route 33: The Beauty, the Hazards, and the Legacy. Bold beauty. Lethal hazards. Real characters who defy a life of fiction. A mountain of legacy.  State Route 33 as it runs between State Route 150 and State Route 166 over Pine Mountain and through the Los Padres National Forest has all of that. SR-33 actually traverses California from the city of Ventura almost all the way to Sacramento, but this is the top end of the portion that Southern Californians know.
  • Hwy. 128 closer to becoming a ‘scenic highway’. Legislation that would make State Highway 128 a “Scenic Highway” is nearer passage following action by the California Assembly. On Monday, AB 998 by Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry passed the Assembly floor with a bipartisan vote of 75-0. This bill makes Hwy. 128 eligible to be named as a “Scenic Highway,” which will increase local economic activity in the North Bay region and bring new appreciation to the beauty of the route.
  • Sonoma County officials consider 2020 renewal of sales tax for road upgrades. Sonoma County’s transportation agency is considering whether to pursue early renewal of the 20-year sales tax that pays for regional transportation upgrades. The agency’s staff recommended its board seek voter approval with a ballot measure in 2020. The quarter-cent sales tax is part of the county’s “self-help” approach to making roadway improvements and regular street repairs, with the largest portion of the revenues designated for the Highway 101 Marin-Sonoma Narrows lane-widening project.
  • Work on Highways 12, 113 roundabout begins. Construction of the roundabout at Highways 12 and 113, between Suisun City and Rio Vista, starts Friday, the state Department of Transportation announced. The work will primarily be done from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., with electric road signs and flaggers directing traffic. Motorists are advised to slow down and watch for lane shifts as they approach the work site.
  • Metro Board Updates: 210 Freeway Barrier, Vermont Transit, and More. Here are some brief updates from yesterday’s Metro board meeting: Approved: 210 Freeway barrier to keep vehicles from crashing on to Gold Line (staff report) To keep errant vehicles off the tracks, Metro is planning to improve the barriers between the Gold Line and the 210 Freeway. This key safety project has been delayed by Caltrans and by last month’s lack of a quorum of non-conflicted board members in attendance. Yesterday, the board approved an additional $11 million to finish design and environmental clearance.
  • The 210 Freeway median fix to stop vehicles from crashing into trains just got costlier. A plan to heighten the median of a 12-mile portion of the 210 Freeway to prevent cars from crashing into the tracks or a Gold Line train just became more complicated — and more expensive. A project that was originally conceived at $30 million in 2017-18 will now cost about $41 million. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board voted unanimously Thursday to add another $11 million to the design and ultimate construction of taller freeway medians from the Marengo Tunnel in west Pasadena to the Iconic Bridge that takes trains over the eastbound lanes into Arcadia.
  • Caltrans announces year-long Palmdale Road construction project. The California Department of Transportation announced the beginning of a year-long construction safety project along State Route 18 or Palmdale Road. Caltrans officials said the raised curb median project will begin the first week in May on Palmdale Road from Cobalt Road to Highway 395 in Victorville. The project will affect those traveling to and from Silverado High School, located near the corner of Cobalt and Palmdale roads, and Cobalt Institute of Math and Science, located west of the SHS.
  • One Of The Biggest Caltrans Construction Projects Begins This Summer On I-5. Get ready for one of the biggest road construction projects in California history. It’s coming to the I-5 corridor in early July along with another project. These two projects will likely drive commuters to other routes, clogging residential roads and other corridors such as Highway 99. Commuters like Jaime Sarte are already dreading a $382 million project along the I-5 corridor from the river to Elk Grove. It starts in early July.
  • Team 10: Questions about safety after people fall from San Diego County bridges. There are calls for safety improvements to local bridges after three people died from falling off of San Diego area bridges in less than a year. That alarming number sparked a Team 10 investigation to examine if there’s more that can be done to keep people safe.
  • Rebuild of MacArthur Maze gets tangled up in East Bay leaders’ objections. Caltrans’ rebuild of the heavily used MacArthur Maze has been put on hold after local officials hit the roof over the plan to reroute thousands of cars and trucks onto nearby city streets for up to three years. “It would have had a horrific effect,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said of diverting traffic from the Maze, which feeds vehicles to the Bay Bridge and to East Bay freeways.
  • Cities along 710 not happy money is flowing to car-centric projects. Three cities ready to receive a portion of almost $1 billion in lieu of a north 710 Freeway extension are unhappy with the process, want more cooperation from Metro and are concerned their suggestions are being ignored. A letter signed by the city managers of Alhambra, Pasadena and South Pasadena to the Los Angels County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board accuses its staff of only accepting projects that enhance the movement of automobiles, namely adding lanes to regional thoroughfares in an area between El Sereno and Pasadena, from Valley Boulevard to the 210 Freeway just west of Fremont and Pasadena avenues.
  • Crews to replace all original joints on Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission has announced that each of the original joints on the Richmond- San Rafael Bridge will be replaced with new joints. The original 31 joints were installed in the mid-1950s. To avoid cracking on the upper deck, the new joints will shrink and expand as the weather changes with a rubber seal, according to officials.
  • Caltrans begins $6.9M meter project to ease Highway 101 traffic jams through Marin.  Marin’s northbound Highway 101 commuters soon may be faced with metering lights that could help speed up the commute. The first of a two-phase traffic meter installation project launched by Caltrans last week will see meters installed at four northbound and one southbound onramp in central and southern Marin. Over the next year, the state agency will monitor traffic flow at the new locations using sensors to determine the best timing for the traffic meters. The lights are expected to come online in spring 2020.

Gribblenation (nee Sure Why Not?) Blog (Tom Fearer):

  • ♠ Signed County Route G9. While on a recent trip through Santa Clara County I decided that I didn’t want to slog through Gilroy on California State Route 152 west.  Instead I took an alternate route to US 101 north via Signed County Route G9.
  • 1889 Lanes Bridge Location (Old California State Route 41). Recently I visited the location of the 1889 Lanes Bridge along what was California State Route 41 north of the Fresno City limits on the San Joaquin River.
  • Long closed California State Route 39 at Islip Saddle. Back in 2016 I visited the long closed segment of California State Route 39 in the Islip Saddle of the San Gabriel Mountains of Los Angeles County.
  • California State Route 247. Between 2011 and 2016 I drove the entirety of California State Route 247.
  • Old US Route 60/70 through Hell (Chuckwall Valley Road and Ragsdale Road). Back in 2016 I explored some of the derelict roadways of the Sonoran Desert of Riverside County which were part of US Route 60/70; Chuckwalla Valley Road and Ragsdale Road.
  • California State Route 177. The first Californian signed highway I ever fully clinched was the quiet California State Route 177 out in the middle of the Sonoran Desert of Riverside County in 2011.  At the time I was working frequently in the Inland Empire Area and would use CA 177 as a shortcut to Mohave County, Arizona and Clark County, Nevada.  The last time I visited CA 177 in any capacity was in 2016.
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