Well, March certainly didn’t come in like a lion and leave like a lamb, did it? It came in like a lion, and left like a pride of angry, socially isolating, pissed off lions chafing at captivity.
For me, March started in Madison Wisconsin, and ended with me working from home, hardly out on the roads at all. But I’m luckier than so many others. I wish all who read this continued good health, and may we come through this stronger and with a desire to explore more of the highways of the great state of California. PS: I am working on a highway page update, but it is slow going. It will be done sometime in April.
As for the highway headlines: there are a lot fewer of them this month. Something else has crowded the highway news off the road (and the highway workers as well). But these headlines are (hopefully) a zone free of that contagion.
Here are your headlines about California’s Highways for March. As always, ready, set, discuss.
[💰 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; NVR/Napa Valley Register]
- 💰/LAT Along a scenic highway, a road map of California’s hopes and anxieties. For nearly 300 miles along dramatic curves and desolate straightaways, State Route 33 passes seamlessly through California’s interior, exposing the attitudes and interests that divide it. A drive from the beaches of Ventura to the outskirts of Stockton, from Democratic strongholds into Trump country and back, reveals befuddlement over the state of politics in America. There’s a common desire to come together, but no agreement on how to get there.
- Critics argue Gov. Newsom is diverting gas tax money to projects voters did not approve of. Gov. Gavin Newsom is coming under fire for an executive order he signed that redirects voter-approved gas taxes initially designed to expand transportation and infrastructure repair projects to “climate change”-related projects not authorized by the voters. SB1, proposed by Senate President Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, was a gas tax repeal initiative, called the “Road Repair and Accountability Act.” Tax revenue from the bill would repair the state’s failing roads, highways and bridges.
- 🚫/NVRAmerican Canyon’s general plan update will tackle the toughest issues. American Canyon leaders and citizens are imagining what schools, parks, utilities and traffic-slammed Highway 29 might—and should- look like in 2040. They are updating the city general plan, a task scheduled to take until summer 2022. The City Council last December approved hiring consultants Mintier Harnish to help at a cost of $1.5 million.
- San Mateo County 101 Express Lanes Construction Update. Project construction from Whipple Avenue to I-380 in San Mateo County is underway! Caltrans is constructing express lanes on U.S. 101 from the San Mateo County/Santa Clara County line to I-380 in South San Francisco. Construction is expected to occur between 2019 and 2022.
- Sound Wall Segments Being Built Along I-805. As part of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) Interstate 805 South Corridor Enhancement Projects, SEMA Construction Inc. was tapped to build five separate sound wall segments along I-805 between Naples Street in the city of Chula Vista and state Route 54 (SR 54) in the city of National City.
- 💰/MODBEE Modesto CA highway project: Dust, toxins worry residents. A long-awaited project to realign Highway 132 in west Modesto is well under way, and so is an effort to dispose of tons of dirt contaminated with toxic barium. The two associated projects have raised questions in the minds of some residents who live near the new highway route and are aware of the contaminated berms stemming from the former FMC chemical plant, which was situated north of Kansas Avenue near Highway 99.
- Toll Road Extensions off the Table, Los Patrones Route Recommended. A toll road through San Clemente apparently will not be pursued. Officials with the Transportation Corridor Agencies confirmed that out of all of the proposals for South County traffic relief, Alternative 22—an arterial, un-tolled road—would be the sole alternative that staff will recommend the board of directors to adopt. The South Country Traffic Relief Effort, which included a series of proposed routes—some of which intended to extend the 241 Toll Road through San Clemente and connect to Interstate 5, while another would have extended Crown Valley Parkway to the 241—were assembled to “improve north-south regional mobility in South Orange County and accommodate regional travel demand,” according to the California Department of Transportation.
- Golden Gate Bridge median barrier ‘saving lives’ after 5 years. The movable median barrier that separates traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge was installed five years ago, and it has stopped what was once an alarming trend of head-on collisions. There have been no head-on crashes on the span since the bridge district installed the barrier in 2015. That’s down from an average of about 2.8 per year. “The barrier has been a wildly successful project,” said bridge manager Steve Miller. “It wasn’t put in to save money. It wasn’t put in to increase efficiency. It was put in to save lives.”
- There’s a 36-Hour Closure Ahead for the 5 Freeway in Burbank. Anyone who regularly drives the 5 Freeway through Burbank will want to set a calendar reminder for what will be one of the most significant freeway closures since the dreaded Carmageddon. A 36-hour weekend closure of the road is schedule for April 25-27 as part of a project to demolish and replace the Burbank Boulevard bridge over the freeway, Caltrans announced Thursday. Caltrans held a news conference in Burbank Thursday to give more details about the 5 Freeway closure.
- AVMAC to hear from Caltrans and California Highway Patrol representatives March 11. The Anza Valley Municipal Advisory Council invites the community to the next AVMAC meeting to listen to speakers from Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol Wednesday, March 11, at 7 p.m. at the Anza Community Hall in Anza on state Route 371. The AVMAC is the local council appointed by District 3 Supervisor Chuck Washington The mission of the Anza Valley Municipal Advisory Council is to advise the county on matters including, but not limited to, public health, safety, welfare, public works and planning which affect Anza, Aguanga and surrounding areas and to assist with creative problem-solving that will help the citizens in the AVMAC sphere of influence
- Solar signal to begin operation on Highway 330 March 23 as work continues. The California Department of Transportation continues work on the bridge rail replacement project on State Route 330 at the West Fork City Creek Bridge. Beginning March 16, motorists can expect traffic delays Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. as crews begin to setup operations for restriping, k-rail installation and placement of materials. A solar signal will be fully operational beginning March 23 to direct one-way traffic control as crews work behind k-rail until the project is completed in fall of 2020.
- Pilot program aims to ease Hwy 25 congestion. Looking to ease congestion on Highway 25, three transportation agencies agreed to implement a pilot program preventing left turns from Bolsa Road onto the highway during the afternoon rush hour. Caltrans announced the six-month trial at the March 4 meeting of the Mobility Partnership between the Council of San Benito County Governments (COG) and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). The program will begin at the end of March.
- S&B Construction Battles Mud Pots Near San Diego. The power of nature, specifically plate tectonics and seismic activity, literally forced the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to build a 5-mi. temporary road adjacent to state Route 111 (SR-111) and install new underground infrastructure for the two-lane highway and the Union Pacific Railroad to abandon tracks and build new ones in the Imperial Valley, east of San Diego.
- Useful Route 84 1962 Adoption Information. California Division of Highways project map from the May-June 1962 issue of CA Highways and Public Works. Note the “5W” designation with U.S. 50. The vertical line west of Livermore, a CA 84 bypass adopted by the California Highway Commission on 11/22/1960, would not see construction until the early 2000s.
- Construction Work on 299 Will Cause Delays Until June, Says Caltrans. Travelers over State Route 299 could encounter work 299 near Big French Creek in Trinity County for several months, reports Caltrans District 2 via Twitter. “Emergency work begins Wednesday, stemming from late January slide,” the tweet stated. “Expect up to 15 min. delays, Mondays-Fridays during daytime hours, through early June.”
- Last Chance Grade Project. The Last Chance Grade Project is a collaborative effort to study alternatives for a permanent solution to instability and roadway failure on a 3-mile segment of US Highway 101 in Del Norte County, extending between Wilson Creek to 9 miles south of Crescent City. Project Partners are considering alternatives that provide more reliable connections through the region; protect economic, environmental, and cultural resources; and reduce maintenance costs.
- CoastLines: An Easy Way to Share Our Highway 101 Heritage. A recent article I wrote, “PCH: A Tale of Two Highways,” struck a chord with readers. They told me they learned a lot and were captivated by the heritage of two storied roads that converge in Dana Point. A beautifully designed monument celebrating Highway 1 in Dana Point inspired me to write about not just California Highway 1, but also U.S. Highway 101. They both share a “Pacific Coast Highway” heritage. My theme was that Highway 101, which intersects Highway 1, also deserves recognition by our local communities.
- UPDATE: TCA Board Approves Los Patrones Extension, Ends Toll Road Plans. UPDATE: The TCA Board of Directors voted unanimously Thursday, March 12 to further pursue the extension of Los Patrones Parkway—an arterial, untolled route—as part of the efforts to relieve South County traffic, formally removing the possibility of extending the 241 Toll Road through San Clemente. Proposals to have a toll road run through San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano were formally put to rest on Thursday, March 12, as the Transportation Corridor Agencies’ Board of Directors voted unanimously in favor of pursuing the untolled route option referred to as Alternative 22.
- A green roof over Interstate 5. One might look at former CalTrans engineer Neil Prescott as a latter day Don Quixote tilting at the North Coast Corridor highway project. Rather than defeat it, however, he wants to enhance the project with an outlandish system he says would virtually eliminate vehicle exhaust pollution that will otherwise accompany the road for years to come. The CalTrans and San Diego Association of Governments’ joint plan to improve coastal traffic flow on Interstate 5 through coastal North County, among other goals, was conceived in 1980. This year, 2020, marks two thirds of the way toward completing the job’s several phases, such as its environmental impact report in 2014 for example. Last summer saw the start of building two new lanes on each side of the freeway.
- Expanding highways and building more roads actually makes traffic worse. It’s a great time to be a road builder in the United States, and a terrible time to be a road user. If it feels like you’re perennially stuck in traffic due to road construction, you’re not wrong, and you’re not alone, according to a new report by Transportation for America. The nation’s largest 100 urban areas added 30,511 new lane-miles of roads between 1993 and 2017, according to the report, a 42 percent increase (and a trend that shows no signs of slowing down). For perspective, that’s higher than population growth, which was 32 percent in those metros over the same time period. That’s not all that grew: traffic congestion, as measured in annual hours of delay, actually rose during those 24 years, by a staggering 144 percent.
- Los Patrones Extension, Toll Road Nixing Considered. The board of directors for the Transportation Corridor Agencies unanimously voted on Thursday, March 12 to further pursue the extension of Los Patrones Parkway—an arterial, untolled route—as part of the efforts to relieve South County traffic, formally removing any possibility of extending the 241 Toll Road through San Clemente. Last week, Assemblymember Bill Brough, who has staunchly opposed the TCA, having drafted measures to limit its authority, announced that the agencies will instead further pursue extending the new county arterial road, Los Patrones Parkway, down to the San Clemente city limit as part of the ongoing South County Traffic Relief Effort (SCTRE).
- TCA Ends Effort to Extend 241 Toll Road, Unanimously Supports Three-Project Solution to South Orange County Traffic Relief. The Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (F/ETCA) Board of Directors approved a report today, which in cooperation with the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) and California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), outlines three near-term projects that address South Orange County traffic relief. These mobility improvement projects provide the necessary transportation benefits to fulfill the intent of the South County Traffic Relief Effort (SCTRE) Project. This formally concludes the SCTRE and completes the Transportation Corridor Agencies’ (TCA) effort to extend the 241 Toll Road.
- Caltrans to install electric charging stations on Highway 46, 101 in North County. A construction project to install electric vehicle charging stations on Hwy. 46 at the Shandon Safety Roadside Rest Area (east of the west junction of State Routes 41/46) in San Luis Obispo County and on U.S. Hwy. 101 at the Camp Roberts Safety Roadside Rest Area (north of Paso Robles between south of Bradley Road) in Monterey County will begin on Monday, March 16. Motorists can expect minimal delays during this roadwork. Details on construction at these locations will be announced when the dates and times are certain. The Shandon Rest Area is located 11 miles south of the San Luis Obispo/Kern County line and the Camp Roberts Rest Area is located about one mile north of the San Luis Obispo/Monterey County line.
- Construction on Highway 99 between Kingsburg, Selma begins in April. State Route 99 between Kingsburg and Selma will be under construction for a year starting in April, Caltrans District 6 said. The northbound and southbound lanes will be reduced to two lanes in both directions. The off-ramps on Bethel Avenue and Mountain View Avenue will be closed.
- 1924 Rand McNally Map. Harvest for Trail Designations. Shows roads and distances. Shows table of highway names, numbers, and markings. Relief shown by hachures. Shows trail names.
- New Traffic Pattern for Northbound I-5. Motorists traveling northbound on I-5 through Santa Ana this week are driving on new concrete pavement. Crews opened up the newly constructed roadway between Grand Avenue and 17th Street last weekend, shifting the northbound I-5 regular and carpool lanes to the 41.6 million I-5 Central County Improvements Project, which adds a second carpool lane in each direction of I-5 between SR-55 to SR-57. The project will alleviate traffic congestion and bottlenecks on that stretch of freeway.
- Economic Growth Drove 91 Express Lanes Success in 2019. Since 2003, OCTA has owned and operated the 91 Express Lanes (91 EL), a two-lane managed-lane facility in each direction in the median of SR-91. In 2019, growth in the regional economy, low unemployment, and job creation in Orange and Riverside counties encouraged more people to choose the 91 EL for safe, reliable, predictable travel. As a result, traffic volumes and toll revenues were at historically high levels.
- Reconstructed Half of Magnolia Street Bridge over I-405 Set to Open March 30. As part of the I-405 Improvement Project, crews are scheduled to shift traffic to the first reconstructed half of the new Magnolia Street bridge on Monday, March 30. The Magnolia Street bridge, which straddles the cities of Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach and Westminster, is being demolished and reconstructed in two stages, one half at a time, allowing it to remain open to traffic in both directions during construction.
- Channelizers get results but SR-67 still a dangerous drive. The impact that the row of orange channelizers on state Route 67 has had on reducing traffic collisions is hard to quantify, but those keeping an eye on highway safety have seen some positive results. The orange channelizers, also known as flexible delineators, were installed in the center divider between Shady Oaks Drive and Poway Road on Nov. 7, 2018. They arrived after another set of channelizers were installed from Poway Road to Lakeside.
- Highway 101 projects keep chugging along. While motorists, cyclists and pedestrians in Carpinteria may feel that the Casitas Pass Road/Linden Avenue overpass projects will never end, crews are on track to complete the overpasses and Linden Avenue roundabout in late spring/early summer of this year, according project spokesperson Kirsten Ayars. The completion date for the project was initially accelerated, but the Thomas Fire and subsequent debris flow had an impact, including the time-consuming task of removing sediment that lodged in the utility pathways through the new Carpinteria Creek bridge, Ayars added.
- Caltrans Claims SHOPP Projects Include Complete Streets Elements. But Are They Speaking the Same Language?. Caltrans representatives told the CTC this week that the draft 2020 State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP) [PDF] reflects the department’s commitment to incorporate bicycle, walking, and transit features in its highway maintenance projects “where feasible,” in compliance with its Complete Streets policies. Michael Johnson, an engineer with Caltrans’ State Asset Management division, told the CTC that “Caltrans has a renewed focus on Complete Streets, and has been building on that commitment. Forty-one percent of all SHOPP projects include one or more complete streets features,” he said, and “half include bike or pedestrian features.”
- Adapting to Rising Tides. Per Caltrans District 4: Good Read: How will sea level rise affect SF Bay Area? And around Hwy 37? Read the study here. The ART Bay Area report is the first ever regional comparison of the impacts of sea level rise on people, the environment, and the regional systems we rely on. This report provides a better understanding of where we are vulnerable and lays out a pathway to plan for the future.
Gribblenation Blog (Tom Fearer)
- California State Route 52. A recent acquisition in sign collecting renewed my interest in revisiting the history of a freeway I used to frequently drive in northern San Diego; California State Route 52.
- Former US Route 99,US Route 466, and California State Route 65 through Famoso. This past weekend I explored the alignments of US Route 99, US Route 466, and California State Highway 65 through Famoso.
- Old California State Route 65 on; Famoso-Porterville Highway, Sign County Routes J35/J22/J29. Earlier in March I traveled down to Famoso of Kern County to take the original alignment of California State Route 65 north to Lindsay in Tulare County.