🛣 Headlines About California Highways – November 2019

It’s that time of the month again: time for sharing the collection of headlines about California highways from November. It’s been an interesting and busy month, especially as I’ve been working on that highway pages. That’s what the little ✔ means — because all month I’ve been going through these headlines for the pages, and the next post on the blog should be the page updates. This, of course, means I’m still working on the updates, so let’s get the headlines out of the way so I can get back to work.

But first: It is Thanksgiving time, and I’d like to express my thanks for those who read and enjoy these posts, who comment on them, and who share information with me for my pages. This is truly a community effort — I’m not doing this to make money. You help make this a resource for the community.

  • ✔ CA-99 Widening Defunded – Where is the Money Going?. Two weeks ago, CBS47 lobbed the following headline: Gov. Newsom redirects gas tax money to fund railway systems, not highways. Unfortunately, the reporting was pretty light on details. Where is the money going? Where did the money even come from? CBS got the following statement from Caltrans: …
  • ✔ Route to Idyllwild Reopens After 8-Month Closure Due to Storm Damage. When heavy rainfall pounded the San Jacinto Mountains back in February, water and debris flooded the scenic mountain highway that leads to Idyllwild. A section of a mountain slope buckled near Lake Fulmor during the storm, leaving behind a gaping hole in the roadway that serves as the main route in and out of the Idyllwild, Mountain Center and Pine Cove mountain communities.
  • ✔ Route 243 Opens. State Route 243 Opening today at 6 p.m. #Caltrans8
  • ✔ Second segment of Los Patrones Parkway opens in Rancho Mission Viejo. The southern segment of Los Patrones Parkway opened to traffic in Rancho Mission Viejo on Thursday, Oct. 17. The completed project extended the parkway about a mile and a half from Chiquita Canyon Drive to Cow Camp Road. “It really begins to open up our community to the broader south county region in terms of access and mobility, so we are really excited about it,” said Mike Balsamo, senior vice president of governmental relations for Rancho Mission Viejo.
  • ✔ 60 Truck Lanes Newsletter (October 2019). Progress! Our crews are continuing to make headway with construction of the State Route 60 Truck Lanes Project, with a focus in  September on excavation, drainage, wildlife crossings, and dust control. On the north side of Route 60, crews are building large slopes to excavate and deposit excess dirt from the hillsides. Our team is moving an average of 15,000 cubic yards of dirt per day to adjacent fill locations. This will prevent dirt from needing to be hauled off-site, saving 14,000 truck trips to and from the project area.

  • ✔ Storm-damaged California 243, the road to Idyllwild, reopens after Feb. 14 closure. Nearly eight months after storms tore it apart, California 243, the most direct route to the popular hiking trails of Idyllwild, reopened Friday. The alpine community of Idyllwild, about 105 miles southeast of Los Angeles, was partly cut off because of the damage.
  • ✔ Highway 58 Kramer bypass opens, eliminating deathtrap. Some of the best news I have ever heard about transportation in Eastern Kern was announced last week by Caltrans District 8 in San Bernardino County. The good news is that the Highway 58 bypass around Kramer Junction and its interchange with U.S. Highway 395 opened for traffic. The announcement added that the old section of the highway, one of the deadliest stretches of road in the region, has been closed.
  • ✔ Route 20/Route 53 Roundabout Opens. We are excited to announce the roundabout at the S.R. 20 / S.R. 53 intersection in Lake County is opening to traffic today! The roundabout is expected to reduce the total number of collisions by 28% and collisions with injuries are projected to drop 74%.
  • ✔ Caltrans plans to fix Big Sur CA Highway 1 traffic issues. Is the iconic Highway 1 car trip from Cambria to Big Sur an endangered species? Many people dream of zipping past gorgeous scenery in a top-down convertible, the wind in their hair. And scores of visitors do make the rugged, 100-mile trek from Cambria to Carmel. But more vehicles wind up on the highway than the roadway and the terrain can handle.
  • ✔ Fourth lane opens on 5 Freeway in Santa Fe Springs. Caltrans has announced the opening of a fourth lane in each direction of Interstate 5 through Santa Fe Springs and Norwalk. The lane opening is part of a $1.9 billion bond project adding one general purpose lane and one carpool lane in each direction of the 5 Freeway between the 605 and the Orange County line.
  • ✔ Treasure Island residents could get a break on tolls. The Treasure Island Mobility Management Agency Committee on Tuesday approved an exemption from a future congestion pricing toll for some 1,800 current Treasure Island residents. The benefit has been expanded so that current residents will not have to pay a toll of up to $3.50 for trips to the island until the first 4,000 units of a planned 8,000 unit development project on the island are constructed. The estimated date for the units’ completion is 2029.
  • ✔ On the 99- The Palm Meets the Pine. There’s a California landmark that just about anyone who has travelled from Merced to Fresno on highway 99 has seen countless times: most of the time experiencing a view lasting but a millisecond. I’m talking about the median section of the highway south of Madera: where the palm meets the pine. I’ve driven by it hundreds of times in my eleven years as a Californian.  But it was only in recent months that someone called my attention to it.
  • $$$ ✔ Highway 237 express lane conversion begins Friday. The second phase of the Silicon Valley Express Lanes on Highway 237 rolls out Friday when carpool lanes convert to express lanes, but the new rules may leave some commuters baffled. Express lanes, which will be extended west on the 237 to Mathilda Avenue in Sunnyvale, are the most significant change governing Bay Area roadways in almost 50 years when carpool lanes and metering lights first sprouted.
  • ✔ Feinstein asked for another bridge across the bay. Regional planners frowned. Driving on the Bay Bridge during rush hour is an undiluted form of misery. Anyone who does it regularly knows the torture of slogging 5 feet, then sitting still — a pattern that repeats for nearly 5 miles. With traffic getting worse, and rush hour now spanning several hours, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and East Bay Rep. Mark DeSaulnier have warmed up an idea that’s stewed since the 1940s: building another bridge south of the first one.
  • ✔ Roy’s Motel and Café sign will again light up Amboy off Route 66. “Being in the right place at the right time to buy a famous town had to be destiny,” writes restaurateur and real estate investor Albert Okura in his 2014 book, “The Chicken Man with a 50 Year Plan.” That town is Amboy, located about 60 miles northeast of Twentynine Palms, Calif., which became a popular destination after the opening of U.S. Route 66 in 1926.
  • ✔ Caltrans to close northbound 99 off-ramps to California Ave and Buck Owens Blvd for 25 days. If you travel through Bakersfield on the 99 freeway, you’ve no doubt seen that there’s been plenty of construction as of late. Caltrans has been working on the freeway as part of its “Bakersfield 99 Rehab Project,” and this week commuters will start seeing more changes.
  • ✔ More SR-22 Freeway Closures! We’re not even finished with the current round of SR-22 Freeway closures (which will continue tonight and end the night of Saturday, Nov. 16) and CalTrans just announced a new batch that starts fresh on the night of Sunday, Nov. 17. “For five nights, starting on Sunday, 11/17/19 through Thursday night 11/21/19, there will be a full closure of westbound SR-22 from Main Street up to the La Veta Avenue (near Bristol Street) On-ramp, a closure of eastbound SR-22 Collector-Distributor Road from Fairview Avenue to SR-57, and the northbound I-5 to westbound SR-22 Connector will be closed from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. the next morning,” states a CalTrans news release.
  • ✔ The Battle for the Richmond Bridge Bike Path. Anticipation for the opening of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to bikes and pedestrians this weekend is running high. This major transportation facility has, until now, been an impenetrable barrier for people not in vehicles. Starting Saturday, it will finally be accessible to people without a car.
  • ✔ SR-70 Segment 1 Safety and Passing Lanes. Today we celebrated the completion of the SR-70 Segment 1 Safety and Passing Lanes! @CaltransDist3 @CHP_Oroville @J_GallagherAD3 @CaltransHQ @AMARJEETBENIPAL @CountyofButte @YubaCounty
  • ✔ Finally, 60 Swarm closures on 60 Freeway in Inland Empire hit 15th and final weekend. Are we there yet? Perhaps you’ve been asking that question about the 60 Swarm, which started in late July. The answer? Yes, we’ve reached the 15th, and final, weekend of full freeway closures on the 60 Freeway in the Inland Empire — if we can just get through one more weekend. The last such closure is scheduled to begin at 10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15, and end by 5 a.m. Monday, Nov. 18. For 55 hours, all westbound lanes of the 60 Freeway will close from the 60-91-215 interchange in Riverside to the 15-60 interchange in Jurupa Valley, near Ontario, Caltrans officials said. The eastbound lanes will remain open.
  • ✔ A Long, Winding and Somewhat Twisted Local Road Story. The current outcry over extending the 241 toll road into the heart of San Clemente is but the latest twist in the San Clemente area’s roadway saga which dates back centuries. Our town’s main drag, the storied El Camino Real, began around 1683 as little more than a trail linking California’s missions. It encompassed several pathways used for centuries by prior native peoples. El Camino Real in Spanish means The Royal Road, but was also known as The King’s Highway. Any road built under the jurisdiction of the Spanish crown was considered a Camino real. Once Mexico became independent from Spain, the term was rarely used until the early 20th century during the American Mission Revival movement.
  • ✔ Next 10 Delivery Plan. The OCTA Board approved the OC Go Next 10 Delivery Plan (Next 10 Plan) on November 14, 2016. This comprehensive plan was developed to ensure that the promises made in the OC Go Investment Plan (OC Go Plan) can continue to be delivered despite changing economic and revenue shortfall impacts.
  • $$$ ✔ New bike path on Richmond-San Rafael Bridge leads to future of transportation. It’s 8 feet wide and 4 miles long, and it leads, according to its hundreds of fans, directly into the future. It also leads directly to a grim prison on one side or to a pungent oil refinery on the other, depending on which way you’re pedaling on the brand-new bicycle path on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. The path, six years in the planning, opened Saturday morning and hundreds of cyclists — not only the spandex kind but the cut-off jeans kind — showed up to be among the first to work up a sweat getting across the 63-year-old bridge.
  • ✔ Bike, Pedestrian Path Opens Across Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. A ceremony on Saturday dedicated a new six-mile segment of the Bay Trail connecting Marin and Contra Costa counties via the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Officials from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Bay Area Toll Authority, Caltrans District 4, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Chevron, Richmond, and the Transportation Authority of Marin were the speakers at the public dedication in Richmond.
  • ✔ State transportation crews prep flood-prone stretches of Highway 37 for winter rains. Ahead of winter rains, state transportation crews are wrapping up paving and drainage improvement work along Highway 37 in an attempt to avert flooding, which in two of the past three years led to multiday closures of the critical North Bay commuter artery. The roadwork, the bulk of which was completed last month, is part of a larger prevention plan that Caltrans launched this fall to ensure the state highway that links Novato to Vallejo via Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties remains open during the wet weather.
  • ✔ Route 29 Roundabouts. How to navigate the roundabout.
  • ✔ Caltrans moving ahead with plans to ease traffic on I-80.  Caltrans is moving ahead with plans to ease traffic congestion plaguing Interstate 80 from Solano County through Natomas in north Sacramento. Besides making roadway improvements, it hopes to add a commuter lane in each direction on the Yolo Causeway, which is the source of slowdowns during commute hours and on weekends.
  • $ ✔ Napa’s first roundabout on First Street to open Thursday. On Thursday, motorists will get to sample the first of the three planned roundabouts at the First Street/Highway 29 juncture. A roundabout is scheduled to open in the course of the day that will carry motorists east and west on First and also reopen old connections to Highway 29, Eric Whan, the city’s deputy public works director, said Tuesday.
  • ✔ Bringing Balanced Transportation Improvements to O.C.. OC Go, Orange County’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements, is now expected to bring in $13.4 billion through 2041, up $300 million over last year’s projection. Administered by OCTA, these local dollars approved by voters help fund a balanced transportation system, with 43 percent going to freeways, 32 percent for city streets and 25 percent going to transit.
  • ✔ Yolo State Highway 16 safety project celebrates ribbon cutting. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the Highway 16 safety improvement project that first broke ground in the summer of 2018. During the ceremony earlier this week, held at the Madison Migrant Center, representatives from Caltrans, the California state assembly, Yolo Board of Supervisors, and the California Highway Patrol, among others, spoke about safety improvements along Highway 16 and cut the ceremonial blue ribbon.
  • ✔ Quietest highway route in each state. Geotab made a rough estimate of the quietest route in each state, based on average traffic. The methodology:
  • ✔ Route 192 Bridgework Competed. Nearly two years after the devasting mudslide/flood in Montecito, State Route 192 is OPEN to through traffic all the way to Carpinteria. We just completed rebuilding the Montecito Creek Bridge, last of six bridges severely damaged by the disaster.
  • $$$ ✔ L.A. Ave. workshop takes closer look at roadway. “To give folks a sense of scale, that’s about one year of our entire general fund budget so that’s a significant contribution,” City Manager Troy Brown said at a Nov. 13 workshop at City Hall on Los Angeles Avenue, also known as state Highway 118. The roadway’s funding, though, was mostly supported through Moorpark’s residential and commercial developments that are required to make contributions to both the city’s traffic mitigation efforts and the 118 Highway improvements. The money has helped the city make enhancements to the area by widening parts of the roadway, adding traffic signals and planting new landscape. But, officials admitted, the thoroughfare still has a long way to go until it meets the city’s expectations.
  • $$$ ✔ The 210 Freeway’s name isn’t consistent, here’s why. Q: Joe Blackstock of Upland, who also writes a local history column for the Southern California News Group, observed that when the 210 Freeway was finally completed between La Verne and Redlands some years ago, it was not called Interstate 210, the way the highway is labeled west of La Verne to San Fernando. “Any idea why that eastern portion has not become I-210 and still remains State Route 210?” Blackstock asked.
  • $$$ ✔ Caltrans completes work on Westlake. The California Department of Transportation has completed a project to improve the surface of the roadway on Westlake Boulevard between the 101 Freeway and Carlisle Road. Crews recently installed an asphalt overlay on a winding, two-lane section of Westlake, also known as State Route 23, from Potrero Road south to Carlisle. Fixing the 1.9-mile stretch of pavement was the final phase of a $5.5-million effort that started in July.
  • $$$ ✔ These 7 projects are making Inland freeways into one big construction zone. It seems like just about every major highway in the Inland Empire is under construction these days. Are we imagining things, or is that pretty close to the mark? And what gives? For starters, you’re not imagining things. “I think that’s accurate,” said Anne Mayer, executive director for the Riverside County Transportation Commission, which plans and funds road construction in Riverside County. “A lot of projects are out on the street right now. There is no question about it.”
  • Sterling Construction Awarded $43.6 Million of Projects by CalTrans. Sterling Construction Company, Inc. (NasdaqGS: STRL) (“Sterling” or “the Company”) today announced that its subsidiary, Myers & Sons Construction, LLC (“Myers”) was selected by the California Department of Transportation (“CalTrans”) for two California highway projects totaling $43.6 million. The first project is a $55.1 million 50/50 joint venture project with FBD Vanguard Construction, Inc., of which Myers backlog and revenues will be approximately $27.6 million. This project is in Sacramento and involves the reconstruction and repair of a twenty mile stretch of highway from the San Joaquin County line to downtown Sacramento on Interstate 5. Myers will replace almost 24,000 cubic yards of existing concrete pavement with a combination of precast jointed concrete pavement and rapid set concrete slabs. This project is scheduled to commence in January 2020 and is expected to be completed in 2021.
  • SR-163 Friars Road Interchange. Just in time for #BlackFriday2019. Caltrans and the city of San Diego completed the city street section of the SR-163 Friars Road Interchange Improvement Project.
  • Swinging gate installed on I-5 at Castaic ahead of storm. Travelers have begun their journeys for the Thanksgiving holiday amid stormy conditions moving across California. The weather may shut down major highways, including I-5 at the Grapevine. Caltrans officials got ahead of the storm by installing a gate that will swing open, creating a turnaround across the median for drivers should the highway close from snow.
  • This swinging gate on I5 will allow drivers to turn around on the Grapevine during snow, rain. Amid current weather conditions, Caltrans District 7 posted on Twitter a recently installed swinging gate on I-5 in Castaic. The gate is said to be about 300 feet north of Lake Hughes Road in Castaic. When the interstate is closed because of ice and/or snow on the Grapevine, it will be rolled open to create a turnaround across the median, officials said.
  • City Leaders Mark Milestone as Crews Complete SR-163 Interchange Upgrades. San Diego city leaders marked a major milestone in its infrastructure upgrades Tuesday with the re-opening of a roadway that was two years in the making. Construction crews have been re-working the interchange between State Route 163 and Friars Road since 2017, and on Tuesday, the new and improved roadway was unveiled.
  • Portion of Freeway Named for Sheriff’s Sergeant Killed in Thousand Oaks Mass Shooting. Officials on Wednesday renamed a stretch of the 101 Freeway in Thousand Oaks in honor of a Ventura County Sheriff’s Department sergeant who was among those killed during last year’s mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill. Sgt. Ronald Lee Helus proposed to his wife at the Borderline, loved ones said. Thursday marks the first anniversary of the attack that claimed his life, along with 11 others.
  • Bridge Named for Iraq War Victim. While fallen U.S. Marine Erik Silva, who perished after being ambushed during the Iraq War, now has a local highway bridge named after him, it is still not known when the signs designating that will go up. The effort was led by Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) and in accordance with the Senate the Assembly passed Concurrent Resolution No. 37. It was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on July 23.
  • Portion of State Route 60 Renamed Jack Tanaka Memorial Highway. State Sen. Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar) gathered on Oct. 18 at Diamond Canyon Christian Church with community leaders and the family of the late mayor of Diamond Bar, Jack Fumio Tanaka (1947-2017), to honor his legacy. Senate Concurrent Resolution 11, introduced by Chang in January, will rename a portion of State Route 60 from Lemon Avenue on the west to Golden Springs Drive on the east as Jack Tanaka Memorial Highway.
  • $$$ ✔ Stretch of 55 will be named after Costa Mesa firefighter, fatally struck by motorist. A Costa Mesa fire captain who authorities say was fatally struck while riding his bicycle by a suspected DUI motorist is set to get a stretch of the 55 Freeway named in his honor. The proposal, unanimously approved by the state Senate on Monday, Aug. 26, will name the freeway, from 19th Street to MacArthur Boulevard, the Costa Mesa Fire Captain Michael Kreza Memorial Highway. The Assembly had already approved it.
  • Portion of Hwy. 38 to be named after fallen firefighter. Honoring the sacrifice of fallen U.S. Forest Service Firefighter Brent Michael Witham, both houses of the state legislature have passed a resolution to rename part of State Route 38 in San Bernardino County in his memory. Senate Concurrent Resolution 32, by Senator Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga), designates the portion of State Route 38 between Mill Creek Bridge and Mt. Home Creek Bridge near Mentone as the “United States Forest Service Firefighter Brent Michael Witham Memorial Highway.”
  • Collapsed Drain Creates Hole on the 10 Freeway in Redlands; Expect Lane Closures. A giant hole opened up on the 10 Freeway in Redlands after a drain collapsed Thursday, forcing the closure of eastbound lanes, the California Department of Transportation said. Two of three lanes were closed down at Sixth Street by 2:18 p.m., but a full closure is expected if the road continues to erode, Caltrans tweeted.
  • New ‘snow gate’ helps drivers on 5 Freeway. A new gate installed along Interstate 5 in Castaic allows drivers to turn around and travel back in the other direction when road conditions are dicey. That came in handy on Thursday, when a snowstorm forced the closure of the freeway through the Grapevine in the midst of the Thanksgiving travel crush. Crews rolled open the gate north of Lake Hughes Road just after the freeway was shut down about 4:30 a.m., said Eric Menjivar, a spokesman for the California Department of Transportation.
  • Lynwood Plans Another Linear Park Along the I-105 Freeway. In 2015, the City of Lynwood converted an unused strip of land abutting the I-105 freeway into Ricardo Lara Park, a mile-long linear park featuring fitness stations, a community garden, and children’s play areas.  Soon, another vacant site along the same highway could be repurposed in like fashion. The new project would encompass an approximately 2.2-acre site  bounded by the I-105 freeway  to the south, Beechwood Avenue to the west, Fernwood Avenue to the north, and State Street to the east.  Plans call for improvements including a walking path, native landscaping, bioswales, and small recreation features.

Gribblenation Blog (Tom Fearer)

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