🛣 Headlines about California Highways – January 2020

A new year. New beginnings. Maybe a site rework. Maybe not — I’ve been promising it for a while. But one thing I can promise is to keep collecting those highway headlines and sharing them with you. So as we enter 2020, here are some headlines about California’s numbered highways, together with a few other things of interest for my highway pages. As always, I welcome your discussion of these headlines. May your drives and explorations in 2020 be interesting, fruitful, and safe.

[💰 Paywalls and 🚫 other annoying restrictions: LAT/LA Times; SJMN/Mercury News; OCR/Orange County Register; VSG/Visalia Sun Gazette; RDI/Ridgecrest Daily Independent; PE/Press Enterprise; TDT/Tahoe Daily Tribune; SFC/San Francisco Chronicle; MODBEE/Modesto Bee]

  • MTC: I-880 Express Lanes Between Milpitas, Oakland To Open In Summer 2020. Express lanes on Interstate Highway 880 between Milpitas and Oakland are scheduled to open late in the summer of 2020, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission said. Workers are converting to express lanes the existing Highway 880 HOV lanes that run from Hegenberger Road in Oakland to Dixon Landing Road in Milpitas in the southbound direction and from Dixon Landing Road to Lewelling Boulevard in San Lorenzo in the northbound direction.
  • 💰SJMN Letter: Too few cyclists use the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge bike lane. Letter: Too few cyclists use the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge bike lane. Yet the MTC, Caltrans and elected officials spent $20M giving a third of the westbound car lanes to cyclists. Aug. 31, 1956: Gov. Goodwin Knight opens the Richmond–San Rafael Bridge. The July-August 1956 issue of the journal California Highway and Public Works stated “the structure will then provide two 36-foot roadways; three 12-foot lanes of traffic on the upper deck to San Rafael and the same provision on the lower deck to Richmond.” Now, 82,000 cars cross the bridge westbound daily, along with public bus lines and endless streams of trucks. Westbound rush-hour back-ups are a daily nightmare for commuters.
  • Granite Awarded $33 Million Highway Reconstruction Project in Central California. Granite (NYSE: GVA) has been awarded a contract by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) for the reconstruction of four miles of State Route 99 (SR 99) near Kingsburg. A primary source of funding for this project is Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 that is expected to invest $54 billion over a ten-year period to improve California’s roads, freeways and bridges. Granite booked the $33 million contract in the fourth quarter of 2019. This four-mile project includes reconstructing two lanes in both directions of SR 99 with continuously reinforced concrete pavement as well as reconstructing ten off- and on-ramps with hot-mix asphalt.
  • More Toll Lanes Coming to California Freeways. “California is expanding toll lanes on freeways like never before, not just to raise revenue for transportation projects but to change behavior as well,” writes Alejandra Reyes-Velarde, a Metro reporter for the Los Angeles Times, in a comprehensive piece that covers Northern and Southern California.
  • California Transportation Plan (CTP) 2050 | Caltrans. The California Transportation Plan (CTP) 2050 is the state’s long-range transportation plan that establishes an aspirational vision that articulates strategic goals, policies, and recommendations to improve multimodal mobility and accessibility while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The purpose of the plan is to present innovative, sustainable, and integrated multimodal mobility solutions. These will help guide the planning and implementation of a low-carbon transportation system that fosters economic vitality, protects the environment and natural resources, and promotes health and well-being equitably for all Californians. The CTP 2050 update will focus on meeting current and emerging trends and challenges affecting transportation, including economic and job growth, air quality and climate impacts, new technologies, freight movement, transportation funding, and public health.
  • Big shakeup coming next week to major streets serving downtown Napa. The freeway entrance into downtown Napa will be shaken up next week with the debut of a second roundabout, then the one-way directions of First and Second streets flipping on Friday between California Boulevard and Jefferson Street.
    These will be the most significant traffic changes in the downtown area since First and Second in the business district became two-way in 2014 after being one-way for over a half century, said Eric Whan, the city’s deputy public works director.

  • Sterling Construction Awarded a $26.4 Million Project 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 a California bridge project totaling $26.4 million. This project consists of retrofitting three different bridges. The Mokelumne River Bridge retrofit includes constructing four new bent caps, repairing two hinges and applying composite strengthening to all columns. This work spans the Mokelumne River off of Interstate 5. The second location is at North Sacramento Undercrossing where work involves repairing hinges and adding stability at three columns by installing isolation casings. This structure spans the existing railroad for Sacramento Regional Transit. The third and final location is Paintersville Bridge over the Sacramento River. At this location, Sterling will be adding four bent caps, including 96” CIDH Piles, and extending each abutment, while replacing the approach slabs. This work is scheduled to start in May 2020 and finish in September 2021.
  • SB-1 funding multiple projects. The California Transportation Commission (CTC) acquired more than $200 million in December 2019 for twenty-seven fix-it-first projects concerning highways and $42 million towards transit, bike, and pedestrian projects. These projects are partially funded by money allocated through Senate Bill 1 (SB1); the Road and Repair Accountability Act of 2017. Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin said, “Californians expect their transportation system to be well maintained, efficient, and multimodal. This funding will keep us safely moving motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit users across the state.” … One of the major projects included in the SB 1 funding is the drainage projects along state routes 99, 198, and 204.
  • Take the Napa County highway trivia quiz. Napa County has six highways and freeways running through it—or is it seven?
    The answer to this seemingly straightforward question isn’t quite clear. Here’s a trivia – but hopefully not trivial – look at the county’s main roads.
  • Lawsuit Alleges SR-76 Partially At Fault for Deadly Wrong-Way Crash. In two months, a Camp Pendleton Marine will face trial for murder. Prosecutors say he was drunk behind the wheel, when he drove the wrong way on State Route 76 and killed a Navy veteran and young father of two. Now, the victim’s widow claims the state of California and the California Department of Transportation are also to blame.
  • California awards contract for SR 99 project. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) recently awarded Granite a $33 million contract for the reconstruction of four miles of State Route 99 near Kingsburg. Work includes reconstructing 10 off- and on-ramps with hot-mix asphalt and reconstructing lanes in both directions with continuously reinforced concrete pavement.
  • 🎥 Dri Whiskey Project Complete! Construction work on the Dri Whiskey Pavement Preservation project is complete! The project, funded by SB 1, improved 21 lanes miles on SR 299 west of Redding, between Old Shasta and Crystal Creek Road. Other work included new guardrail and drainage, dike work, signage, and striping.
  • New year brings change for commuters on Highway 99. The new year ushered in a new way for Caltrans to manage metering lights on northbound Highway 99. As of Monday, Caltrans is now managing the metering lights along on-ramps to northbound Highway 99 in a different way in a continued effort “to help relieve congestion and allow safe merging during high traffic demand periods,” says a post on the South Sacramento California Highway Patrol’s Facebook page.
  • 🎥 I-80/SR 65 Interchange Improvement Project. In September of 2019, the Federal Highway Administration, the California Transportation Commission, Caltrans District 3, PCTPA, Placer County, and the City of Rocklin, California Government, the City of Roseville, California Government, the Town of Loomis celebrated the completion of the first phase of the Interstate 80 / State Route 65 Interchange Improvements Project! However, there is still more work to be done to help relieve congestion in the region and provide safer and more direct routes to our businesses, schools, and homes. Watch the latest project update video and hear from California State Senator, Brian Dahle, Placer County CEO, Todd Leopold, and Placer County Sheriff, Devon Bell, about the importance of continuing to enhance transportation in the region.
  • Eyes on the Path: Better Bike and Ped Crossings in Emeryville. The Doyle Street Greenway project in Emeryville got some pretty cool upgrades over the holiday break. This bike and pedestrian path, which converted a disused rail right-of-way between Doyle Street and the Berkeley border at Murray, is a popular transportation and recreational route. But it had a big weakness–street crossings and cross traffic can be dangerous and confusing.
  • 💰SFC Bay Briefing: Costly path to rebuilding a bridge. There are no concrete plans to replace the 64-year-old Richmond-San Rafael Bridge anytime soon. In fact, the only thing concrete about the span are the chunks that have fallen from it. Now Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, is crusading for a new, better structure. “If the bridge is going to last another 10 or 20 years, that’s great,” he said. “But we should be planning for what the next span will look like.” Although state and regional transportation agencies have sunk more than a billion dollars into maintenance, the bridge wouldn’t survive a major disaster, Levine noted.
  • 💰SFC Assemblyman’s crusade for a new Richmond-San Rafael Bridge: All he needs is $8 billion. Since the day, early in February, when it unleashed chunks of concrete onto a white Mercedes, the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge has drawn all manner of colorful descriptions. It’s also had 31 joints repaired on the westbound upper deck and opened a popular bicycle path while carrying 82,000 motorists each day.
  • Caltrans to perform work on two major Monterey Peninsula arteries. Motorists may want to find other routes to the Monterey Peninsula next week as Caltrans will be working on two roadways from the inland area to the coast, affecting traffic next week. Caltrans will be performing brush control operations on Monterey-Salinas Highway at San Benancio Road near Salinas, and conducting sweep operations on Highway 156 from Highway 1 to Highway 101 between Castroville and Prunedale, Caltrans said in a press release.
  • City Launches Letter Campaign to Support Anti-TCA Bill. The city of San Clemente is again asking local residents to submit letters to state lawmakers, expressing support for legislation that would strip the authority of the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA). The measure, Assembly Bill 1273, which Assemblymember Bill Brough introduced last spring, proposes to restrict the joint powers authority from creating new toll roads while requiring the agencies to pay down the debt incurred from building its roads.
  • Toro Creek Bridge Open on State Route 192. Caltrans has announced that the Toro Creek Bridge is now open to two-way traffic with final striping scheduled for next week during the daytime hours. The striping operation will result in a temporary closure of the bridge with the previous detour in place.
  • OCTA Officially Submits Concerns for Caltrans/TCA Scoping Period. The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) has officially submitted its comments on the latest efforts to relieve traffic, in a project known as the South County Traffic Relief Effort (SCTRE). The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), in cooperation with the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA), is proceeding forward in initiating the environmental phase to conduct more detailed studies regarding proposed routes to relieve traffic. In October, a memo from OCTA CEO Darrell Johnson explained the agency’s position on the proposed 241 Toll Road extensions through San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano.
  • Riverside County wants feedback on raising sales tax for road projects. Riverside County traffic officials want to know if residents would support a sales tax increase, and are seeking to educate the public on the type of road projects that would be funded if it were to go into effect. The half-cent-per-dollar tax hike is included in the Riverside County Transportation Commission’s draft of its traffic relief plan, released last week, which details projects designed to reduce congestion on roads across the county.
  • Imperial Avenue I-8 Interchange Project announced. A two-year project will completely reconstruct the Interstate 8 (I-8) and Imperial Avenue interchange. Caltrans, in partnership with the Imperial county Transportation Commission and the City of El Centro announced the extensive project Monday. Construction will begin late spring or early summer, according to Caltrans.
  • Crews repair sinkhole on Hwy 101 on-ramp in Goleta. Crews are working to repair a sinkhole that opened up on a Highway 101 southbound on-ramp in Goleta last month. The sinkhole at the Turnpike Ave. soutbound on-ramp was discovered on Dec. 27, according to Caltrans.
  • Flatiron Construction Ahead of Schedule for I-710 Project. Construction began in May 2018 on the California Department of Transportation’s (Caltrans) $150.7 million Interstate 710 Pavement Rehabilitation and Bridge Widening Project, which was awarded to Flatiron Construction Corporation in February 2018. Crews have been making solid progress on the project that covers a 3.5-mi. stretch of the north-south I-710 through the cities of Commerce, Vernon, Bell, and the unincorporated area of East Los Angeles from Slauson Ave. to State Route 60. The project, financed by state and federal dollars, is scheduled to be completed in 2021.
  • Linden and Casitas Pass project slated to open March 26. Many drivers are tired of waiting for a 7- mile stretch of the 101 between Carpinteria and Summerland to be done with a widening and improvement project, but other drivers believe it will be worth the wait. In addition to being patient, drivers must slow down. The construction zone speed limit is 55. Santa Barbara County Association of Governments and Caltrans project spokesperson Kirsten Ayars of Ayars and Associates said, “There is a 55- mile-an-hours speed limit in a construction zone for workers safety and everybody’s safety because there is a lot to look at.”
  • Major streets into downtown Napa made the big flip Friday morning. Amid lane closures, fresh striping and new directional signs, major traffic changes, including a new roundabout, were implemented at 10:50 Friday morning. In one big cosmic flip, westbound First Street near the freeway became eastbound, Second Street changed in the opposite direction and the new roundabout at First and California Boulevard opened.
  • 💰SFC Adding a bus-only lane on the Bay Bridge: The idea seems simple. Except it’s not. Designating a bus-only lane on the Bay Bridge seems like a simple idea. And it could be transcendent for anyone who commutes by transbay coach, sometimes a long game of sit and wait. But state Assemblyman Rob Bonta may face design challenges and stout opposition from motorists as he tries to revive a plan that’s been kicked around for years.
  • Napa drivers voice conflicting opinions about new First Street roundabout. Asked for their opinion of the new roundabout and street flip, Napa motorists let loose with more than 100 comments over the weekend. Lack of instruction on how to use a roundabout was a primary concern. Many feared that the new roundabout at First Street and California Boulevard complicated the intersection and increased the likelihood of accidents.
  • Draft Regional Transportation Plan goes to county commission. How easily we get around within the county over the next 5 to 10 years and what condition our roads, bridges, bike paths, airports and pedestrian facilities are likely to be in will be considered Jan. 27 when the Plumas County Transportation Commission hears the final draft of the new 2020 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). The 20-year planning document identifies over $301 million in short-range transportation needs in Plumas County and an additional $170 million in long-range needs.
  • January 16: This Date in Los Angeles Transportation History. 1930:  Five hundred public officials and delegates representing civic bodies convening in Pasadena are presented with the first volume of the County of Los Angeles’ Regional Plan of Highways which covers Section 2-E: San Gabriel Valley. (includes link to document)
  • A car-free Red Car Pedestrian Bridge to open this month across the L.A. River. The Red Car Pedestrian Bridge is scheduled to open with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Jan. 25, according to a Facebook post from Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell. “The Red Car Bridge will provide much needed accessibility for pedestrians and other non-motorized uses…, which is especially important as we embark on a three year seismic retrofit and historic restoration of the Glendale-Hyperion Complex of Bridges,” the statement said.
  • Caltrans discusses plans for Highway 58 climbing lanes. Caltrans plans to soon release to the public plans on three sections of truck-climbing lanes that would allow motorists to pass big rigs traveling on Highway 58 from Bakersfield to Tehachapi. “The project initiation document is a planning document. It’s really the document that starts the dialogue very early in the process. It’s designed to relatively give guidance to future phases,” Brent Green, district director for Caltrans District Nine, said at the Kern Council of Governments’ regular board meeting in Bakersfield on Thursday.
  • 💰MODBEE Ceres CA plans Highway 99 interchange with unusual design. Ceres is moving into detailed design for a new Highway 99 interchange near the south end of town. The $133.5 million project would include a full interchange at Service Road, which now has a bridge across the highway but does not directly connect with it. The work also would involve upgrades to the current Mitchell Road interchange, about half a mile to the south. The Stanislaus Council of Governments voted Wednesday, Jan. 15, to allot $6.59 million toward the design. StanCOG oversees transportation planning in the county.
  • Salsipuedes Creek Bridge Replacement Wednesday. A project to replace the Salsipuedes Creek Bridge and construct a retaining wall and fish passage on Highway 1 near Lompoc continues this week with a traffic switch onto the newly constructed southbound bridge on Wednesday, Jan. 22. The 24/7 traffic signal will be temporarily turned off during this traffic switch.  Motorists will encounter traffic control via a pilot car and flaggers from 9 am until 3 pm.  When the traffic switch is complete, the traffic signal will be restored allowing two-way traffic on the southbound bridge and construction to begin on the northbound bridge.
  • Caltrans to repave State Route 1 in 2022. Caltrans is planning a large-scale repaving of Highway 1 in West Marin, slated for 2022. The estimated $24.5 million project will overlay asphalt on 15 miles of road, including through Tomales and Point Reyes Station. The work will cover a 10-mile southern section, from Bivalve to Five Brooks, and a five-mile northern section, from Tomales-Petaluma Road to Valley Ford. The scope of the preventive maintenance project was determined by the current stress on the pavement, said Wajahat Nyaz, a project manager for Caltrans.
  • Highway Improvement Project Impacts Traffic. The California Department of Transportation, Caltrans, is launching an improvement project that will strengthen the embankment on the west side of State Route 108 (SR-108). The slope work is being done adjacent to the highway and is between Seventh Street and Claus Road in Riverbank. Because this work requires construction crews to use the westbound lane, Highway 108 will be under one-way reversing traffic control with portable signals to direct westbound and eastbound traffic. Portable signals will be placed near Claus Road to the east and Seventh Street to the west, with signal timing set to maximize traffic flow and minimize delays.
  • Presenting the 91 Express Lanes 2019 Annual Report. Now online, the 91 Express Lanes Annual Report for 2019 showcases a year of progress and momentum. With toll volumes and toll revenues at historic high levels, the 91 Express Lanes continues evolving toward the future at an accelerated pace to meet the growing demands of drivers in Orange and Riverside counties. By putting customers first, the 91 Express Lanes stays ahead of the curve, setting the standard for other toll roads to follow.
  • After Coastal Commission Objects, Caltrans Agrees to Short Moratorium on Eucalyptus Removal in the Safety Corridor. Caltrans has officially pressed pause on its plans to remove 38 eucalpytus trees along Highway 101 between Eureka and Arcata, after California Coastal Commission staff objected to the work shortly after the project began Tuesday afternoon. However, the state transportation agency will continue to remove limbs from several of the trees belonging to the landmark windbreak along the safety corridor, and a spokesperson told the Outpost today that it will recommence its plans to take down the trees slated for removal after 10 days.
  • 💰OCR Gov. Newsom needs to push for highway improvements. For drivers, California’s bumpy roadways can seem like one giant pothole. So commuters should welcome Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed 2020-2021 budget, which smartly prioritizes roadway maintenance, congestion reduction, and key trade corridors. There’s no way to sugarcoat it: California’s infrastructure is in bad shape. The state has put off basic maintenance and repairs and there are now more deferred needs in the state’s transportation system than in any other area of infrastructure.
  • 💰LAT Malibu wants to ban overnight parking on Pacific Coast Highway. Will the state allow it?. Nidia Greiss pulled her Dodgers cap low over her eyes, squinting at a pair of tourists posed atop the lifeguard tower at Malibu’s Las Tunas Beach — the consummate #California shot. Her husband, an Army veteran with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, perched on the bumper of their spotless Jeep Renegade, watching traffic on Pacific Coast Highway. Las Tunas is less a beach than a backdrop. They’ve been here since August, living just out of frame.
  • County: Sewer Project to Cause Hwy 41 Delays through October. The Madera County Public Works department has started a major construction project that will impact traffic along Oakhurst’s main artery — Highway 41 — for the next nine months. “Expect delays and changing traffic patterns as the signage and routes are expected to change,” warned an advisory issued this week by the California Highway Patrol.
  • 💰SJMN Roadshow: Hillsdale Road widening, Campbell Avenue to be paved. Q: Can you shed some light on a perplexing project that might be the area’s slowest road expansion? Well over a year ago work began on widening Hillsdale Avenue. The last section, which needed to be widened from two to four lanes, was begun. This very short segment, perhaps only a third of a mile long, is between Hilltop Avenue close to the entrance to the drive-in/flea market and Communications Drive. Work began ambitiously, with utilities being put underground, new water pipes laid, and so on. Then the rains came last winter, and work pretty much ground to a halt. Finally, spring arrived and construction-friendly weather conditions returned. But here’s the mystery. Despite the return of good weather, work did not really begin again until late fall, and even then, it was at a snail’s pace. I drive by there almost every day, and much of the time there appears to be only a couple of guys doing who knows what. Shaving dirt off the hillside, slowly putting in curbs. At this rate, it will be another year before this short stretch of road opens. What gives?
  • Build NCC crews prepare to shift I-5 traffic onto new San Elijo Lagoon highway bridge. The new year marks a significant milestone for the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) as the Build NCC program has officially reached the halfway point. The significant progress made to date by Build NCC construction crews move the region closer toward the goal of realizing the SANDAG “5 Big Moves” framework and the creation of a complete corridor that delivers a diverse set of multimodal transportation choices that provide quality of life improvements throughout north coastal San Diego County.
  • Napa’s third and final roundabout close to opening. Napa’s roundabout project is nearing completion, with the third circle at Second Street and California Boulevard to open to motorists by the end of February. The contractor, O.C. Jones & Sons, Inc., will first reopen California Boulevard between Second and Third streets the week of Feb. 10, Eric Whan, the city’s deputy public works director, said Wednesday.
  • Death of Scott Road on I-5. RT @My5LA : Bye bye, old “Scott Road” exit sign. Hello, new “Empire Ave/San Fernando Bl” exit sign.
  • New Page – Southern California Passes | Southern California Regional Rocks and Roads. As an addition to the “High Points” on the Highways pages, I have added a new page which summarizes all the major passes in Southern California. Postmiles, or mileposts, have also been added as well to the list. If you see any missing or find some errors in the data, let me know.
  • Public Feedback Sought on State Route 20 Project in Nevada County. Caltrans proposes to improve highway safety by modifying the alignment of two non-contiguous segments of the highway and adding turnouts. The $55.3 million project calls for updating these roadway segments to current standards by increasing the curve radii, widening shoulders to eight feet, adding turnouts in both directions and improving the vertical profile grade. Additionally, the project will widen an existing turnout to standard width. Construction is estimated to start in fall 2021.

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