🛣 Headlines about California Highways – February 2020

February. A short month, but not so short on the highway headlines. Yes, even when I’m in the land of WisDOT, I’m posting headlines about my oh-so-warm California. Note that a few of these articles have less to do with highways, and more to do with things I need to remember for my website, such as the upcoming changes to Chrome related to images not served with HTTPS:.

[💰 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; SACBEE/Sacramento Bee]

  • Is Highway 154 Really the Blood Alley We All Think It Is?. Late last year, a 51-year-old Santa Barbara man was heading west on Highway 154 near Cachuma Lake. It was 7:15 p.m. on a Friday, and the weather was clear. According to witnesses, the driver was gunning his Lexus and trying to pass other cars along a bend of the two-lane road when he lost control and slammed broadside into an oak tree. He died at the scene. Officials said it was only dumb luck that no one else was hurt.Community reaction matched what’s often expressed after a serious 154 crash — the highway is too dangerous, authorities aren’t protecting the good drivers from the bad ones, and the problem has gotten worse over the years.
  • Public Feedback Sought on State Route 20 Project in Nevada County. Caltrans is hosting an open house in February to seek community comments about a proposed safety improvement project on State Route 20 in Nevada County. The event will be Monday, February 10, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Eric W. Rood Administrative Center, Board of Supervisors’ Chambers, 950 Maidu Avenue in Nevada City. Community members can view project displays and review materials, including environmental documents. Caltrans staff members will be available to answer questions and receive comments from the public.
  • Omega Curves Project on Route 20. (Twitter) Caltrans is seeking public feedback on an upcoming safety improvement project on SR-20 in Nevada County. Learn more about the Omega Curves Project at our upcoming open house Monday, February 10 from 5 – 6:30 pm.
  • Improvements Coming Soon to I-5 in South County. Today, nearly 360,000 motorists travel I-5 daily between SR-73 and El Toro Road. Transportation planners expect traffic volumes to grow 25 percent by 2045. To address this travel demand, OCTA and Caltrans are working together to implement the I-5 Widening project from SR-73 to El Toro Road. Construction will be done in three segments. Crews began work on the first segment from Oso Parkway to Alicia Parkway in 2019.
  • 💰/PE $210 million 10 Freeway fix underway between Beaumont, Palm Springs. Caltrans is launching a major $210 million pavement renovation project on the 10 Freeway, from Beaumont to Palm Springs. The work to repair and replace brittle sections of decades-old concrete is spread 17 miles between the 60 Freeway and Highway 111. Drivers will have to factor the project into desert travel plans through 2022, when work is scheduled to wrap up, officials said Wednesday, Feb. 5.

  • Google to block some HTTP file downloads starting with Chrome 83. In April 2019, ZDNet reported about a proposal Google had made to other browser makers in an attempt to get everyone on board. The plan, at the time, was that browsers block file downloads that take place via HTTP, when the user initiated the file download from a site loaded via HTTPS. Today, Google announced it was formally moving ahead with last year’s proposal, and would be making changes to the Chrome browser going forward.
  • Chrome 80 released with silent notification popups, support for same-site cookies. The Google Chrome web browser, version 80, is now available for download on all major platforms. Today’s Chrome 80 release marks a important point in Chrome’s history. This release comes with two major changes to how Google’s browser operates, changes that will resonate with users for years to come.
  • Local leaders celebrate Campus Parkway progress. Local leaders held a ribbon-cutting for Segment II and a groundbreaking for Segment III of the Campus Parkway Project last Friday at the current end of Campus Parkway near Highway 140 and the route to Yosemite National Park. Representatives from Merced County, the City of Merced, the Merced County Association of Governments, Caltrans and UC Merced were on hand for the big ceremony. Assemblyman Adam Gray, who helped secure state SB1 (Gas Tax) funding for the project with former Senator Anthony Cannella in 2017, was also be present.
  • The Little Known History Behind LA’s Most Tolerable Freeway. Los Angeles freeways and expressways connect about 515 miles of L.A. county. For funsies, KPCC’s Take Two asked listeners if they had … a favorite one? The response was a resounding, “NO,” but there was one that stood out as overwhelmingly tolerable: the 2.
  • Marin lands $3.76M grant to improve perilous roads. Several historically dangerous intersections and roads throughout Marin County will be getting safety upgrades thanks to a $3.76 million grant. The Marin County Department of Public Works said 51 intersections will benefit from pedestrian and traffic signal improvements, and that 5,500 feet of guardrail along roads across 13 sites will be replaced. The grant is coming from the Caltrans Highway Safety Improvement Program. Ernest Klock, assistant director of public works, said the Caltrans program is a crucial funding source, allowing the county to act fast to get work done.
  • Napa stoplights gain another kind of glow – from reflectors. In recent weeks, drivers may have noticed a new glow from some traffic signals — a kind that emanates from their edges rather than their colored lights. Along state-controlled stretches of Soscol Avenue, Silverado Trail and other routes, Caltrans has added borders of reflective material to the back plates of stoplights. Catching the glare of oncoming cars and trucks, the reflector strips produce a constant yellow glow that makes signals stand out in sharper relief — and, according to state transportation officials, may reduce the number of collisions, especially when power outages leave road signals otherwise dark.
  • Route 92 Gap Closure, Routes 92 and 101 Interchange Completion, San Mateo … . Draft EIR, 1979
  • 12 Short Guides to Government Transportation Agencies in LA and CA. There are many governmental organizations doing transportation work in Los Angeles and California. Click the underlined names below for a quick overview of what some of the primary organizations do. I have also included a link to a 3-part series outlining how transportation policy is made.
  • I-5 Burbank Bridge Demolition. (Twitter) The Burbank Blvd bridge at I-5 will be closed to all traffic soon (*not* this week) on a date to be announced. Crews will demolish the bridge and construct a wider bridge with modern, efficient on-and-off ramps. Detours will be provided.
  • A closer look at the gas tax and what Caltrans is doing with your money. Nearly everyone, everywhere in some way pays for transportation. The State of California is spending $5.5 billion each year on transportation projects and it’s your money, generated by the controversial gas tax that went into effect more than two years ago. Senate Bill 1, better known as the gas tax, was signed by Governor Jerry Brown in April of 2017.
  • Highway 180 to shift to new expressway near Centerville and Minkler. Drivers will soon be changing lanes as traffic along this portion of State Route 180 will now shift from Kings Canyon Road onto a new expressway. Caltrans road crews started to redirect traffic onto the new roadway near Centerville Monday evening. Fresno County’s half-cent transportation tax helped pay for the $55 million project, and the expressway is aimed at safer travels.
  • Highway 18 Closure: 4 Days Becomes 2 Months. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) reissued a press release on Monday, Feb. 10 regarding the closure of Highway 18 between the Highway 138 connector and Lake Gregory Drive. One of the significant changes is the project’s estimated duration. Initially, Caltrans said the project would begin on Feb. 11 and conclude on Feb. 14. But according to Caltrans Public and Media Affairs Chief Terri Kasinga, the project will now run an estimated two months, concluding at the end of April.
  • SF has plan to protect western edge from sea level rise. San Francisco has a plan to gird against of sea level rise brought on by the swirling and undulating Pacific Ocean that ceaselessly beats against the city’s western shore. The San Francisco Planning Department has a whole webpage dedicated to deal with the rising waters at Ocean Beach.
  • 💰/SFC Bay Bridge bus lane would require one-fifth of drivers to ride bus instead — or face epic traffic jams. When state Assemblyman Rob Bonta said in January that he might propose a bus-only lane on the Bay Bridge, transit activists roared with enthusiasm. Regional transportation officials frowned. Although they support mass transit, most worried that cutting a lane of traffic and reserving it for buses would cause more problems than it would solve. But on Wednesday, members of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission — which funds and operates the region’s six state-owned bridges — urged their staff to pursue the lane anyway.
  • Bus-Only Lane On Bay Bridge Would Hurt Traffic, MTC. There’s renewed interest in creating lanes on the Bay Bridge that would be only for buses, but a transportation officials is skeptical it would work without more far-reaching changes to infrastructure and driving behavior.  Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) has recently proposed limiting a lane on the span for buses, saying it would speed up commutes and encourage more people to take mass transit.
  • Transit Officials Weigh Options For Designated Bus Lanes On Bay Bridge. The conversation about putting a bus lane in both directions of the Bay Bridge continued Wednesday as the Metropolitan Transportation Commission heard a presentation on the subject. If approved, the project would require a lot more than just re-striping lanes. Transportation agencies from across the Bay Area agree that getting more people on public transit is key to freeing up congestion on the Bay Bridge. But those potential riders need to be encouraged to take transit in the first place.
  • Florida Avenue Highway 74 median strip work resumes. The California Department of Transportation raised curb median project from Valle Vista to Hemet by its contractor Autobahn, the other half of the $20 million safety project contracted out to Granite Construction Co. on state Route 74 from Acacia Avenue in Hemet to Interstate 215 resumed this week. Because of the stormy weather last week, the two construction company projects were put on hiatus until Monday, Dec. 1, when work resumed.
  • Pearblossom Highway traffic altered. Residents heading to the Antelope Valley Swap Meet this weekend and into the spring need to be aware of a new entry point to the popular site, to accommodate continuing roadwork on Pearblossom Highway. Starting Sunday and continuing into April, there will no longer be access to the swap meet from Pearblossom Highway. Instead, a detour will direct drivers to 47th Street East to enter the site from Fort Tejon Road, Palmdale Public Works officials said.
  • Caltrans to host community meeting on Yolo/I-80 improvement project. City and county residents can seek more information and provide comment on the Yolo/I-80 Corridor Improvement project at community meeting that Caltrans is hosting in West Sacramento later this month. The meeting — an open house — will take place on Thursday, Feb. 27, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the West Sacramento City Hall, Galleria Room, 1110 W Capitol Ave. The Yolo/I-80 Corridor project proposes improvements to I-80 from Kidwell Road west of Davis to West El Camino Avenue, including Highway 50 to the I-5 interchange in Sacramento.
  • Second phase of Express Lanes project gets rolling in San Mateo County. The second phase of the Express Lanes project on Highway 101 began Monday in San Mateo County, which means commuters can expect delays most nights for at least the next two years, according to Caltrans.
    Construction work will occur overnight, from 9 p.m. to 5:30 a.m., between Sunday and Thursday through mid-2022.
  • 💰/NYT The Struggle to Mend America’s Rural Roads. Wearing bright safety vests, the county highway workers followed the scalding, red tar kettle as it pumped out liquid rubber bandages, thick as melted butter, to cover the pavement’s worst gashes. From above, it looked like the flip side of skywriting — as if yellow cursors on the ground were carefully spelling out a message for unseen readers in the clouds. The farmers, truckers and others who traverse these rural roads, though, could quickly tell you what the hieroglyphics mean: Help.
  • Update on highways 74 and 243. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) continues work on the third emergency project to make repairs to fire and storm-damaged highways 74 and 243 (SR 74 and SR 243). Both routes were impacted by an arson fire in July 2018, debris flows in August 2018, and subsequently, major storm damage one year ago on Feb. 14, 2019. Caltrans has completed two of three emergency projects to rebuild and restore highways 74 and 243 to the Idyllwild and Mountain Center communities. The first Director’s Order for $6.5 million made fire damage repairs and reopened both routes to the public.
  • 💰/SACBEE When will Sacramento build a bridge over the American River?. Rancho Cordova resident Dave Wilkerson asked a simple question last week after reading our story about Sacramento County’s proposed transportation sales tax measure for the November ballot. “Your Measure A article mentioned a lot of ‘fixes’ but missed something big. From Highway 50 to cross over the American River there is a large area that’s missed. The area between Watt Avenue and Sunrise Boulevard needs a bridge.”
  • Route 99 in Chico. (FB) Chico, California March 1975 Sacramento Bee Notice from Caltrans District 3 announcement to abandoned 8.2 mile section of proposed freeway alignment for old US 99e current California 99 3 1/2 miles north of Chico to the Butte Tehama County Line. This section was was adopted for freeway status back in 1961 by the California Highway Commission and due to cost and reductions in highway funding.
  • Freeway project complete. Drivers on the Antelope Valley Freeway through Palmdale may have noticed the trek has become a little smoother recently, as a nearly 16-month construction project to improve traffic flow has been completed. The southbound freeway was widened to add a continuous lane be-ginning about where it crosses Technology Drive (Avenue P-8) and ex-tend-ing nearly to the Palm-dale Boulevard exit, removing the bottleneck that can occur where the road narrows by one lane.
  • Highway 50 Caltrans project to improve safety in Camino. Construction on a $55.4 million highway project years in the planning is set to start this summer, and will improve safety on a high-collision corridor of U.S. 50 east of Placerville. The California Department of Transportation, the lead agency on the project, was expected to open bids on Wednesday, but due to the number of inquiries, the bidding period on the U.S. Highway 50 Camino Safety Project has been extended until March 4. That means construction won’t start until May or June, said Steve Nelson, public information officer for Caltrans. The work will be done in two phases.
  • Judge Denies City’s and HOA’s Motion in TCA Lawsuit. A judge in Riverside County last month denied the city of San Clemente and a homeowners association’s motion to stop the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) from considering alternative routes to extend the 241 Toll Road after the initial plan to build the extension south of San Clemente was officially blocked in 2016.  The TCA, according to the Jan. 28 ruling, “may elect not to proceed with the extension, may select an alternative to the extension, and may condition the construction and operation of the extension in whatever manner that is consistent with the law.”
  • Highway 101 construction extensive in Salinas, comes with unexpected problems. Crews were laying down new panels on Highway 101 between East Market Street and North Main Street Friday morning. They said it was needed because the old panels were cracked and deteriorating. But the panels are not being replaced throughout the entire highway. Crews said they’re working on the road in segments and different parts of the highway call for different approaches and types of material. For example, the open parts, with no bridges or overhangs, get asphalt because it’s thick. It can only be used when there’s no concern about limited space and cars getting stuck under bridges, for example. There’s also the concern about cost.
  • Metro ExpressLanes implementing “Occupancy Detection System” via cameras : LosAngeles. Image of letter that was sent out.
  • Wildlife corridor under Highway 101 enters planning stage. A recent land acquisition on the Monterey/San Benito County line is planned for use as a wildlife corridor for regional fauna. The corridor would include a crossing under Highway 101 near the eucalyptus grove. On Feb. 11, the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County announced it would acquire 2,600 acres of Rocks Ranch. The trust’s Executive Director Stephen Slade told BenitoLink that Rocks Ranch is a “must protect” project because it would enable wildlife to safely cross 101 and connect the Santa Cruz Mountains with the Gabilan Range. Wildlife found at Rocks Ranch include bobcats, golden eagles, and California red-legged frogs. There are also signs of Native American cultural artifacts, such as bedrock mortars.
  • Highway 60 lane reopening is just days away. A Highway 60 truck lane project won’t be finished for more than a year, but crews are wrapping up a phase that’s caused headaches for drivers over the past six months. The right westbound lane reopens March 5 in the Highway 60 badlands and travelers will no longer be limited to one lane while heading to Moreno Valley and Riverside. Before that can happen, westbound Highway 60 — and one eastbound lane — will be closed 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. this week while crews check pavement quality and do other repairs, according to the Riverside County Transportation Commission.
  • Newly Constructed Sepulveda Blvd. (FB) March 1939 – Map of newly constructed Sepulveda Blvd (CA-7), near the site of present day I-5/I-405 interchange. Circled route numbers are legislative route numbers (CH&PW).
  • State bill calls for Highway 37 tolls. Highway 37 may become a toll road under a new state bill introduced on Friday. Toll revenues would be used to fund major rebuild and flood protections of the busy East Bay-North Bay connector in preparation for sea level rise and flooding impacts. Standing on a hillside at Sonoma Raceway overlooking the highway, bill author Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, said the urgency, high cost and looming consequences require “bold action” to address current and future flooding.
  • Upcoming meetings to update public on Lake Tahoe’s SR89 West Shore plan. The public is invited to explore the future of Lake Tahoe’s West Shore during one of three public opportunities offered by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, and Tahoe Transportation District. The State Route 89 Recreation Corridor Management Plan outlines the projects needed to improve the visitor experience, reduce traffic congestion, and preserve the environment from South Lake Tahoe to Tahoma.
  • Gov. Newsom offers up Santa Rosa greenway site for homeless shelters. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration has given Santa Rosa the option to set up emergency homeless shelters on nearly two miles of state-owned open space in east Santa Rosa where city officials and community advocates are planning a unique greenway project with housing and shops. The open space between Farmers Lane and Spring Lake Regional Park — owned by Caltrans, which wanted to build out Highway 12 there decades ago — is slated for development into a long, narrow stretch of parkland connected by a trail, featuring more than 200 apartments and 12,000 square feet of commercial space.
  • Project to add new lanes to State Route 210 and Base Line begins. The San Bernardino County Transportation Authority will break ground on Wednesday, Feb. 26, on a long-awaited project to add two lanes to State Route 210 and expand the Base  Line Bridge. “The planned improvements to the 210 go a long way toward addressing congestion and safety concerns along this heavily traveled corridor, while creating economic, environmental and quality of life improvements for our entire region,” said Darcy McNaboe, president of the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority board and mayor of Grand Terrace.
  • Ramp Metering, HOV Lanes & Senate Bill 1 Benefits – Caltrans News Flash #160 – YouTube. In this Caltrans News Flash, Public Information Officer Thomas Lawrence visits with Resident Engineer Abdul Rashid to discuss the implementation of ramp metering on state roadways and the installation and enhancement of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) across the state.
  • Roadwork On Highway 108 And More Local Highways. Caltrans has work scheduled this week that will delay travel in Tuolumne and Calaveras Counties. On Highway 108 in East Sonora, from Via Este Road one mile to North Sunshine Road, shoulder work will limit traffic to one lane. The work is scheduled between 7am and 3:30pm on  Wednesday and will delay traffic 10-minutes. Drainage work on Highway 4 above Forest Meadows, specifically between Northwood Drive and two miles further up to Horseshoe Drive on Monday through Friday will delay traffic for ten minutes. The work is scheduled between the hours of 8:30am and 3:30pm.
  • California Stories Told and Untold Through Maps, in ‘You Are Here’. Follow the orange line to reach the Hayward BART Station. Think twice about moving into that fire-risk zone. All your pan dulce needs can be met in this specific radius of the Mission District. But “You Are Here: California Stories on the Map,” a new exhibit that just opened at Oakland Museum of California, wants people to think critically about who makes the maps they see and what story they’re trying to tell.
  • Richmond-San Rafael Bridge Bike/Pedestrian Path to Close Later This Month. The Richmond-San Rafael Bridge’s bicycle and pedestrian path will be closed for five hours each weekday for three weeks later this month and next month for structural inspections, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission said Wednesday. The bridge will be closed from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday from Monday through March 13 to allow Caltrans to inspect the bridge’s structural integrity as required every two years by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration.
  • Toll road proposed on Highway 37. Faced with a multibillion-dollar price tag to ease congestion on Highway 37 and protect the critical North Bay artery from rising sea levels, State Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa) Friday proposed a novel funding solution — turn the route into a toll road. Flanked by North Bay transportation, business and environmental leaders on a bluff at Sonoma Raceway overlooking Highway 37, Dodd introduced legislation he authored that would allow the state to immediately collect tolls from motorists between Sears Point and Mare Island.
  • Richmond-San Rafael Bridge bike lane closures planned. The new pedestrian-bicycle lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge will be closed for parts of the next three weeks for inspection work on the span, state transportation officials  said. The path will be closed between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. weekdays from Monday, Feb. 24, until March 13, according to Caltrans. To accommodate path users, Caltrans will provide a shuttle that will pick up passengers from both sides of the bridge.
  • Napa County preparing to open new Devlin Road segment. Another Devlin Road segment is scheduled to open sometime late Monday afternoon, providing a new link in the still-evolving, south county parallel route to congested Highway 29. The segment is 1,100 feet, a distance equal to three football fields, and includes a bridge over Fagan Creek. It will allow drivers in the airport industrial area to drive between Airpark Road and Tower Road.
  • Construction Advisory: Construction Crews to Begin Demolishing and Dismantling Old San Elijo Lagoon Highway Bridge. As part of the Build NCC Project, Caltrans and SANDAG construction crews will demolish and dismantle the original Interstate 5 (I-5) highway bridge over the San Elijo Lagoon and Manchester Avenue in the City of Encinitas. This work will require the use of heavy-duty machinery and equipment, and is set to begin Sunday, March 1, and will take place during overnight shifts from Sundays through Thursdays, between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. This activity is anticipated to take approximately four to six weeks to complete.

Gribblenation Blog (Tom Fearer)