🛣 Headlines About California Highways in June 2020

Highway headlines in the time of COVID-19 continues, with seemingly fewer news items. How much of that is due to COVID, and how much just due to changes in the natures of highway funding and what makes news is anyone’s guess. But before we jump into the headlines, a little bit of other California Highways news. The site refresh is proceeding apace, now that I’ve figured out how I want the menus to look. I hope to have it up sometime in July, but here are some of the highlights of what you’ll be seeing:

  • Reduced use of tables for formatting and page layout, meaning things should flow better for mobile devices. I haven’t gone to a full responsive design framework … yet.
  • Individual files for each state and county route.
  • Automatic redirects, so if you refer to the old 8-routes-per-file notation, you still get to the right place (in other words: you don’t need to change your code)
  • Menus that will make it easier to jump within a given highway page to a segment, section or structuring section / subsection

Now, back to the headlines. Here are your headlines about California Highways in June, and 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; DB/Daily Breeze]

  • Rte 163/11 Separation. Intersection of the 110 and W Ave 26.
  • Caltrans Resurfacing Portions of State Rte. 166. A resurfacing of State Route 166 from Obispo Street in Guadalupe to Blosser Road in Santa Maria will begin on Monday, June 8.
  • Clay Street still eyed for widening, moving bridge. It’s been 18 months or so since the Clay Street Bridge in Placerville has been in the news, but those months have not been without movement toward a city project that aims to widen the roadway and possibly move what some say is an historical asset. It is precisely because the city wants to be certain all historical and cultural matters are explored and sensitively dealt with during the Clay Street Realignment and Replacement Project that the delay occurred. That, and of course, COVID-19, the City Council was told Tuesday by City Engineer Rebecca Neves.
  • Scott Road Interchange Open. Courtesy Post: The Scott Road Interchange is fully open this week for the first time as the project enters the completion stage.
  • ‘A giant wheezing kazoo’: Golden Gate Bridge starts to ‘sing’ after design fix. San Francisco’s famous Golden Gate Bridge has started “singing” following recent changes to bicycle-path railings that appear to make music as the wind blows through them, residents have reported. The eerie sound has prompted perplexed, cheeky, and even desperate reactions from locals.
  • Granite wins $16m Cosumnes Bridge project. Granite has been awarded the Child Project 4 (CP4) portion of the Cosumnes Bridge Replacement Project by the California Department of Transportation’s (Caltrans) in Sacramento County. The contact is part of a phased delivery of the overall $158 million project. The $16 million project contract is included in Granite’s second quarter 2020 backlog, the company says.
  • 🚫/NVR American Canyon starts condemnation proceedings for big road project. American Canyon is flexing its eminent domain muscles as it seeks to acquire several slivers of private property it deems necessary for the Green Island Road project in the industrial area. The City Council on Tuesday voted to initiate eminent domain proceedings against four property owners. That means if the parties can’t negotiate deals, the city can take the land and the courts will decide the sale prices.
  • E. I-880 Express Lanes. The I-880 Express Lanes are nearing completion. Your drive on I-880 will change as new striping of the far-left lanes begins the week of June 8th.

  • Why L.A.’s Freeways Are Symbolic Sites of Protest. When Angelenos gathered downtown to protest the murder of George Floyd, they started at City Hall and eventually made their way toward the 101. Pastor Stephen “Cue” Jn-Marie from the Row Church led the first group of protesters onto the freeway, which they occupied for roughly 30 minutes. Ever since the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012, uprisings protesting police brutality and racism have blocked freeways throughout America. The freeway and highway systems in the U.S. are part of “a long, long, long history of looting our communities, looting our lives,” Pastor Cue explains.
  • Why Expanding Highways Makes Traffic Worse. Americans drove 40 percent more miles in 2019 than they did in 1994, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. More driving means more congested traffic. So to reduce congestion, it makes sense to build more highway lanes so that more cars can fit. Right? Actually, no. A new report from the policy organization Transportation for America shows that doesn’t work at all. Between 1993 and 2017, the researchers found that the largest urban areas in the U.S. added 30,511 new lane-miles of roads—a 42 percent increase. That’s a faster rate of growth than population growth, which rose by 32 percent in those cities over the same time period.
  • VMT Law Could ‘Thwart’ Efforts to Finish Highway 99 Widening. Future Central Valley highway projects — including the expansion of Highway 99 to six lanes — will be impeded if Caltrans follows a new controversial state law, a large regional planning agency says. The San Joaquin Valley Regional Policy Council, which represents more than 60 cities, shared its concerns about Highway 99, Interstate 5, and other highways in a letter to the director of Caltrans. The council says that by 2050 the Central Valley will double in size, but it will be unable to “rise” as a region because of restrictive, costly measures in the Vehicle Miles Traveled law.
  • Senate to Vote on Bill Blocking Toll Road through San Clemente. State legislation that would prevent the 241 Toll Road from ever extending through San Clemente has been sent to the Senate floor where lawmakers are expected to vote on it in the coming days, the city announced last week. As of Monday, June 15, the measure, Senate Bill 1373, which Sen. Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) introduced to clarify in existing law that State Route 241 will not run through the city of San Clemente, was listed under the Senate’s third-reading file, meaning it awaits discussion among members and a roll call vote.
  • Mission Viejo City Seeking Community’s Support In Defeating A Bill That Could Bring More Traffic. The City of Mission Viejo is asking residents to help stop the passage of a State bill that could bring major traffic onto City residential streets and interfere with our region’s ability to assert local control over traffic management. Authored by Senator Patricia Bates and Assemblyman Bill Brough, Senate Bill 1373 would delete from the State Highway System the stretch of State Route 241 from State Route 5 south of the City of San Clemente to Oso Parkway east of the City of Mission Viejo. This would likely result in more traffic ending up on our residential and main streets. The bill could prohibit action by future transportation and regional decision-makers who may want to consider south Orange County mobility solutions years from now as population grows and traffic congestion increases.
  • Atomic Skies: Project CARRYALL. In 1962, the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway began planning a new railway between Needles and Barstow through the Bristol mountains in California. The straighter, more level route would be 15 miles shorter than the old line, shaving 50 minutes off the trip. But getting through the mountains would require either drilling a tunnel or excavating a new pass; the railway judged the cost of doing either with conventional means to be prohibitive.   So, in December of 1962, the Santa Fe Railway contacted the US Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), to ask if the job could instead be done with hydrogen bombs.
  • Less Traffic Facilitates Construction Progress on I-405 Improvements. Significantly reduced traffic volumes during the COVID-19 pandemic allowed OCTA and its partners to implement extended overnight and daytime freeway lane closures to mitigate schedule delays on the I-405 Improvement Project.
  • Safety problems increase calls for local highway work. A determination earlier this year that California has missed federal highway safety targets in recent years has renewed criticisms that Sacramento is prioritizing climate change policies over driver safety and jeopardizing completion of important transportation projects in Kern County. The U.S. Department of Transportation told Caltrans on April 24 the state failed to achieve three out of five safety standards between 2014 and 2018, including five-year averages for highway fatalities and serious injuries, and that California didn’t make “significant progress” during that period.
  • 🚫/NVR Roundabout suggested for Highway 221 near new jail. Napa County supervisors brought up various ideas during budget hearings, among them a roundabout on Highway 221 and a north Napa library return drop box. These and other possibilities cropped up in the nooks-and-crannies of a three-hour discussion for a proposed $505 million budget. The Board of Supervisors held the session on Monday.
  • Utilities aim to make I-5 a West Coast electric highway for commercial trucks. Commercial electric trucks ranging from regional delivery vans to big rigs will have places to plug in when they’re transporting goods up and down the West Coast, according to a plan announced Wednesday by electric utilities serving the West Coast.  Spurred by the release of a comprehensive, 185-page “West Coast Clean Transit Corridor Initiative Study,” the plan proposes a backbone of 27 high-power DC fast chargers along the 1,300-mile Interstate-5 corridor from Mexico to Canada. It also suggests an additional 41 sites on connecting highways, including I-8, I-10, and I-80 in California, I-84 in Oregon, and I-90 in Washington, as well as some other LA-metro routes.
  • Caltrans awards transportation project funds. California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) officials said the agency has awarded more than $21 million in state and federal funds to bolster statewide transportation offerings.  The Sustainable Communities Grants funding allotment is slated to aid 64 local, regional and metropolitan planning organizations for multimodal and land-use projects and natural disaster planning, initiating projects reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving the highway system, enhancing bicycle and pedestrian safety and access and increasing natural disaster preparedness.
  • San Diego – Coronado Bay Bridge Suicide Deterrent Project. The public scoping meeting will be a virtual meeting using the WebEx platform. The meeting is open to all and there is no registration required. The meeting will start on Thursday, June 25th 2020 at 5 PM Pacific Standard Time. Below is the event information. If you would like a calendar reminder, please click the “Add to calendar” link under “Events”. If you have any questions, please contact us at D11.CoronadoBridge.ED@dot.ca.gov. Thank you.
  • Opinion: L.A. freeways are the most racist California monuments. Across the country, Confederate monuments are tumbling. Museums are stripping effigies of racist presidents past. Here in Los Angeles, indigenous activists toppled a statue of Junipero Serra, a canonized saint who founded the mission system that enslaved and brutalized generations of California Indians into abandoning their traditions. The aftermath of George Floyd’s death while in police custody has created a moment for radical truth-telling. So here’s some ugly truth about the city of Los Angeles: Our freeway system is one of the most noxious monuments to racism and segregation in the country.
  • Coronado City Council Approves Caltrans Relinquishment Package For State Routes 75 And 282. One of the more significant capital projects initiated by the City of Coronado in the past decade took a major step closer to reality last week during the City Council meeting of June 16, 2020. The City Council approved by a 5-0 vote, acceptance of the $22 million financial package from Caltrans to take over the operation of State Routes 75 and 282 in the city. Along with an internal transfer of $9.3 million from the Fiscal Year 2020-21 budget, the resulting $31.3 million fund, with interest, is projected to cover the annual maintenance for the two state routes that run through Coronado.
  • 💰/DB Carson 405-110 freeway connector to shut over weekend for widening. The northbound 405 freeway connector to the southbound 110 freeway, in Carson, will close over the weekend for a $50 million road widening and realignment project, state transportation officials said. The work, intended to address congestion at the intersection, will take 60 hours and will close the connector from 7 p.m. Friday, June 26, to 6 a.m. Monday, June 29, according to the California Department of Transportation.
  • Caltrans Completes Interstate 80 Acceleration Lane Project in Colfax. Caltrans is announcing the completion of a $1.8 million operational improvement project in Colfax that extended the existing westbound Interstate 80 on-ramp from State Route 174 with a standard-length acceleration and merge lane. “The addition of a standard-length acceleration and merge lane increases the safety of motorists traveling from Colfax as they enter a high-speed highway and freight corridor,” said Caltrans District 3 Director Amarjeet S. Benipal. “The project also complements the City of Colfax’s roundabout project, which was constructed last year. That partnership project between Caltrans, the City of Colfax and the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency was developed to relieve queues and improve traffic operations as people enter and exit Interstate 80.”
  • Caltrans virtual ribbon cutting on $54.9M South Lake Tahoe project.  Due to restrictions on gathering in groups because of COVID-19, Caltrans created a virtual ribbon cutting and “thank you” video highlighting their four-year $52.9M water quality improvement project on Highway 50 in South Lake Tahoe. The two-mile stretch from the Y to the Trout Creek Bridge includes a new drainage system to treat stormwater runoff before it enters Lake Tahoe and adjacent water bodies that discharge into the lake. The project also rebuilt the curbs, gutters, and sidewalks on both sides of the highway (Lake Tahoe Boulevard), bus pullouts and increased the roadway width to provide for Class II bike lanes.
  • Safety problems increase calls for local highway work. A determination earlier this year that California has missed federal highway safety targets in recent years has renewed criticisms that Sacramento is prioritizing climate change policies over driver safety and jeopardizing completion of important transportation projects in Kern County. The U.S. Department of Transportation told Caltrans on April 24 the state failed to achieve three out of five safety standards between 2014 and 2018, including five-year averages for highway fatalities and serious injuries, and that California didn’t make “significant progress” during that period.
  • $1.8 Billion Investment Will Repair Roads, Improve Pedestrian, Bicycle and Mass Transit Access. The California Transportation Commission approved Wednesday more than $1.8 billion to repair highways and bridges and improve the state’s growing network of pedestrian, bicycle and mass transit routes. This investment includes nearly $1.1 billion in allocations for State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP) projects, Caltrans’ “fix-it-first” program aimed at preserving the condition of the State Highway System. The approved funding is from federal and state gas taxes, including $800 million from SB 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. Projects approved in Caltrans District 10 include: …
  • Three Mother Lode Road Projects Get Over $23 Million In Funding. Three Mother Lode road projects, two in Calaveras and one in Mariposa County,  will get a $23 million slice of a $1.8 billion pie state transportation officials are dishing out partly through gas tax funds. The California Transportation Commission approved the funds to repair highways and bridges and improve the state’s growing network of pedestrian, bicycle, and mass transit routes. The funding comes from the federal government and the state’s 12 cent gas taxes, SB 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. The latter pumped $800 million into the kitty.
  • Interstate 8 / Imperial Avenue Interchange. Caltrans has received funding to move forward on reconstructing the interchange at Imperial Avenue and Interstate 8 (I-8) in the city of El Centro. Work will include constructing two ramps at I-8 that will provide direct access to southbound Imperial Avenue and will provide connectivity to the south portion of the city. The improvements will complement city plans for future commercial and residential development.
  • Caltrans gets $1.8 billion to fix California roads. Caltrans has received a large amount of money to help fix California roadways: $1.8 billion. The funds provided by the California Transportation Commission will help fix roads that get a lot of traffic and repave pedestrian and bicycle routes across the state. Just over $1 billion of that will go to the State Highway Operation Protection program or SHOP and the Caltran’s Fix It First program. As a result, Kern County will be getting some help.
  • California Transportation Commission Passes Complete Streets Funding and Talks About Equity. At its monthly meeting yesterday, the California Transportation Commission quickly passed an update to the State Highway Operations and Protection Program, approving the remainder of a $100 million set-aside for adding complete streets elements to ongoing highway projects. It was a quick agenda item, with little discussion, in contrast to last month’s meeting, where the same issue got stuck on a question of protocol and caused a bit of a ruckus. Yesterday it was a straightforward question of approving Caltrans’ request to reschedule projects on the SHOPP list, to the tune of $58 million, in addition to the $42 million in changes it already approved.

Gribblenation Blog (Tom Fearer)

  • Former US Route 101 on Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. During 2014 I paid a visit to Redwood National and State Parks of Northern California.  One of the many districts I visited was Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park which contains a former segment of US Route 101 on Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway.
  • California State Route 197. Back during 2014 I drove California State Route 197 while exploring rural Del Norte County.  This article traces the history of the short but albeit scenic CA 197.
  • California State Route 200. During 2016 while visiting Northern California I ended up taking California State Route 200 as a cut-off from US Route 101 east to California State Route 299.
  • Mineral King Road, the White Chief Mine, and the unbuilt California State Route 276 (Updated). Back in July of 2016 I took Mineral King Road east from California State Route 198 to Mineral King Valley within the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Sequoia National Park.  This June I revisited Mineral King Valley and made my way up to the White Chief Mine.
  • California’s Rogue Sign State Route Shields. While recently revisiting Yosemite National Park I took a couple minutes to capture some of the California Sign State Route shields posted by the National Park Service (“NPS”).  None of the NPS shields were actually posted on roadways maintained by Caltrans but were clearly intended to create route continuity with the Sign State Highways.  This phenomenon is not exclusive to Yosemite National Park and can be found on numerous roads not maintained by Caltrans throughout California.
  • Golden State Highways and California Travel Directory. Over the years Gribblenation has compiled hundreds of articles relating to highways in California along with copious amount of scenery the State has to offer. One thing that I’ve frequently received feedback on over the years is that it can be difficult to track down specific articles. The Golden State Highways and California Travel Directory aims to change this by making a go-to page for anything we feature related to California.