🛣 Headlines About California Highways in July 2020

July saw a settlement into a new normal: wearing masks, working from home, scanning headlines, and so forth. There was still news about the highways, but it seemed to be lighter and more in the maintenance area. Of course, the biggest news came in the middle of the month, when I announced that the site redesign was completed for my website, California Highways.  Some of the highlights of this redesign includes:

  • A new non-icon navigation bar on each page, with improved section and internal page navigation.
  • A floating menu available wherever you are on a page.
  • Restructuring of the individual highway pages to be one highway per webpage. Old links still work.
  • Reworking of the individual highway pages to provide internal page navigation to specific sections or sub-sections.
  • Reworking of the naming index to go directly to the definition of the name.
  • Reworking of image callouts so that they should resize on smaller windows
  • Review of every page on the site.

For mobile devices, the site still looks better in landscape mode. I still need to figure out how to make portrait mode work better.

But, besides that, what other headlines were there in July? Funny you should ask:

[💰 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, DR/Solano Daily Republic; SDUT/San Diego Union Tribune; BJ/Bizjournals]

  • SoCal to Las Vegas train project gets approval to build along 15 Freeway. A plan to build a high-speed train between Southern California and Las Vegas got a boost Tuesday after the rail company in charge of the project received permission to build along Interstate 15. XpressWest entered into a lease agreement with the California Department of Transportation to construct the rail line on I-15’s median, Caltrans announced in a news release. Approximately 135 miles of the 170-mile rail system will be in California. The project will be privately financed and will cost about $7 billion, according to 2018 estimates.
  • 💰/SJMN Golden Gate Bridge officials probe ‘singing’ noise on span. The Golden Gate Bridge district began plans this week to study a new noise emanating from the bridge that can be heard for miles on gusty days. The sound is the result of fast northwesterly winds passing through new railings and wind fairings on the western side between the two towers as part of on ongoing wind retrofit project. It has been described by the district as “singing,” but some local residents during Friday’s bridge board meeting had other choice words, calling it screeching that sounded like torture and saying it caused such physiological distress that it was impossible to ignore.
  • Legal ruling could unleash delayed funding for Bay Area transit, road projects. A state appeals court has upheld a lower court’s ruling allowing a 2018 voter-approved toll hike on state-owned bridges in the Bay Area to stand, a move that could finally unleash up to $4.5 billion to pay for regional road and transit upgrades, including projects tied to Highway 101, SMART and Highway 37 in the North Bay. A three-judge panel of the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco issued its decision on Monday, siding with the Bay Area Toll Authority following oral arguments in late May. A planned appeal to the state Supreme Court, however, could further stall the funding and delay dozens of projects that depend on it.
  • 💰/SFC Golden Gate Bridge’s new hum louder than expected; officials explore options to fix handrails. Golden Gate Bridge engineers knew the span might sing once its new handrails were installed, but they never expected the bridge to wail as loudly and off-key as it does on profoundly windy days. With the graceful bridge becoming known for its discordant tune, as well as its famously good looks, bridge officials told the district’s Board of Directors last week that they’re trying to tone down the noise a bit.
  • Marin transit agencies in line for $77M more in aid. Marin County transit providers are being recommended for nearly $77 million in additional federal relief funds, but officials say this will only forestall service cuts unless more aid becomes available. A panel created by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission made a recommendation this week on how to disburse the remaining $508 million in relief funding among 27 Bay Area transit agencies. The money is coming from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act.
  • Notice of Intent to Adopt a Negative Declaration – Route 20. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) proposes to improve a curve, replace guardrail, and widen shoulders on State Route 20 at post miles 19.1 through 19.6 between Fort Bragg and Willits in Mendocino County. The replaced guardrail and curve realignment would bring this section of highway up to current standards and the shoulders will be widened to create bicycle lanes. The Initial Study is available electronically by visiting the Caltrans website at: https://dot.ca.gov/caltrans-near-me/district-3/d3-programs/d3-environmental/d3-environmental-docs/d3-mendocino-county.

  • Coronavirus Pandemic Traffic Update: San Diego’s Freeways Getting Busier. It’s been about four months since the coronavirus pandemic reached San Diego County and people were told to stay home. But now that many businesses have reopened, how’s traffic looking out there? Each month, local planners take a look at the traffic trends. This is what it looked like for May-June, according to San Diego’s Regional Planning Agency (SANDAG): The average daily traffic volume was down 21% the first week in June, versus the 50% drop when it was at its lowest the second week in April.
  • 🚫/NVR American Canyon to take another look at Highway 29 traffic. American Canyon will seek more public opinion before tinkering with the road map for the future of its main drag, Highway 29. Allow buses to sometimes drive on shoulders between Airport Boulevard and Napa Junction Road to escape traffic? Try to divert some of the highway traffic burden onto parallel roads? The city’s Planning Commission wants to know what people think.
  • 💰/LAT Banished: Last Confederate monument in Southern California. And then there were none. You might have missed it, but the last known Confederate monument in Southern California has been removed from public view. Without fanfare or fuss. The memorial had been placed along Highway 99 near Bakersfield almost 80 years ago by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, whose specialty was sponsoring monuments to white supremacy across the nation. The unassuming commemorative plaque was part of a bizarre plan to celebrate Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States, as “Father of National Highways.”
  • Jefferson Davis Highway Out West. While exploring along the old US99 highway route you might be surprised to come upon an historical marker labeling this road “The Jefferson Davis Highway”. A curious and little known concurrence: one could wonder why the president of the Confederacy was so honored way out west. The origins of the Jefferson Davis Highway date back to the “named highway” era of the early 20th century. This was a time when private organizations were busy designating roads as official “highways” in their efforts to promote a particular agenda, be it commercial or altruistic. These named highways eventually totaled around 250 with a number of them transcontinental, although a good many were “highways” on paper only. Some shared their routing, or portions of it, with other named highways. The best of them were promoted nationally and were mapped and marked with the chosen color scheme and logo on poles, rocks and fences along the way.
  • List of North American Auto Trails at AmericanRoads.us. While working on the California Highways site redesign, I needed to find a page to replace James Shul’s old list of trails. I found this.
  • Caltrans seeks public comments for Highway 25 curve alignment near Pinnacles. Caltrans District 5 announced that it is accepting public comments through Aug. 7 on proposals to perform restoration work on the original State Route 25 Curve Realignment Project, located 32 miles south of Hollister. A virtual public hearing will be held on July 14, at 5 p.m. For more information on how to join, go here. This is the second time Caltrans will attempt to realign the two-lane road. The original $2.1 million price tag increased to $9.5 million, then jumped to more than $11 million.
  • State Route 330 bridge project set for August completion. Out of sight and out of mind. That’s been the case for many who live and visit Big Bear Valley regarding the State Route 330 bridge rail replacement project at the West Fork City Creek Bridge. But now that traffic in both directions has picked up speed this summer, the one-way traffic control signal is on everyone’s radar again. According to Terri Kasinga, chief of public and media affairs for Caltrans District 8, the bridge rail project on State Route 330 is expected to be completed in early August. Until that day arrives, motorists are advised that the one-way controlled traffic signal remains in place 24 hours a day. Motorists are advised there could be delays. Alternate routes are encouraged.
  • Highway 129 resurfacing begins today. The resurfacing of Highway 129 just north of San Juan Bautista began this morning, and will continue to affect traffic daily over the coming weeks. The project will resurface State Route 129 from just west of Old School Road to east of the U.S. 101 interchange. The project began July 6. Motorists will encounter daytime ramp and lane closures Monday through Thursday from 7am to 7pm, and on Fridays from 8am to 2pm, according to Caltrans.
  • Highway 49 lane shift July 7 for Auburn Rehabilitation Project. Caltrans is advising motorists to be aware of a northbound lane shift on State Route 49 between Persimmon Terrace and Nevada Street/Marguerite Mine Road in Auburn. Construction crews were to re-stripe lanes overnight Tuesday and shift northbound traffic to the left. The median turn lane between Persimmon Terrace and Nevada Street/Marguerite Mine Road will be utilized for northbound traffic, preventing southbound left turns for several months as construction in the area is completed.
  • Chino Valley included in $1.8 billion road project. The California Transportation Commission approved more than $1.8 billion on June 24 to repair highways and bridges and improve the state’s growing network of pedestrian, bicycle and mass transit routes, including a 71 Freeway project in the Chino Valley.  The $11.9 million traffic management system project on the 71 Freeway will replace and upgrade existing communications elements and install traffic management system elements, including traffic cameras, vehicle detection systems and changeable message signs from the Los Angeles County line to the Riverside County line.
  • New bridges, ramps opening in Carpinteria as part of the freeway widening plan. What was first talked about around 25 years ago has become a reality in Carpinteria with the completion of two new bridge and ramp projects. It’s part of a larger freeway widening plan for U.S. Highway 101 in the very heavily used coastal corridor. The bridges have been completely replaced at Linden Avenue and Casitas Pass Road. There are many other improvements that were included in the project. Many came from numerous community meetings.
  • I-605 Corridor Improvement Project update. Over the past four years, we have made significant progress on the I-605 Corridor Improvement Project. In an effort to improve circulation and safety on the I-605, the project proposes improvements to approximately 16 miles of highway located along I-605, between just south of the I-105 and just north of the I-10 freeways, as well as to I-105, I-5, SR-60 and I-10 freeways and interchanges. The project is currently in the environmental phase as the team continues studies on the four Proposed Alternatives and their impacts
  • Bridge Reconstruction Moves Forward on I-405. During the next few weeks, reconstruction of three bridges spanning the freeway will reach major milestones as part of the I-405 Improvement Project. The bridges are at Bolsa Chica Road, Edwards Street and Goldenwest Street and are among 18 bridges to be built, widened or replaced. The Bolsa Chica Road and Goldenwest Street bridges are being reconstructed in two stages, one half at a time, allowing them to remain open to traffic in both directions during construction. Both the first reconstructed half of the new Bolsa Chica Road bridge and the first half of the new Goldenwest Street bridge opened in June.
  • Southern California Regional Rocks and Roads A bit of US 60 and US 99. I went for a ride on my motorcycle today. Just needed to just get out for a bit. Part of my journey took me through Idyllwild, via State 74 and 243. No photos of that section though, as I was too busy having fun on the motorcycle. The “slalom” section, as the locals seem to call it, on 74 heading up to Mountain Center is one of my favorites to ride. 243 was a lot better than on previous rides, owing to a lot less sand on the roadway and new paving from near Lake Fulmor down to Banning. Quite a bit of fun can be had up in the mountains on a motorcycle, even at 55 mph.
  • 💰/DR Zoom meeting set to discuss changes to 6 Vallejo I-80 overpasses. Caltrans will soon begin work on a four-year, six-bridge project in the city. The vertical clearance for Interstate 80 overpasses at Magazine, Georgia, Tennessee and Redwood streets, as well as Benicia and Springs roads will be increased to the standard of 16 feet, 6 inches, the state Department of Transportation reports.
  • Caltrans crews to increase vertical clearance on six Vallejo bridges. Caltrans District 4 invites the community to a virtual meeting focused on roadwork on six Vallejo bridges. Crews aim to increase the vertical clearance on the bridges, which cross over Interstate 80: Magazine Street, Benicia Road, Georgia Street, Springs Road, Tennessee Street and Redwood Street. The bridges don’t meet the current vertical clearance design standard of 16 feet 6 inches, officials explain.
  • Three San Diego County Projects Win Transportation Awards. Three San Diego County projects — the San Elijo Lagoon rail project, Gilman Drive bridge structure and San Ysidro Land Port of Entry — won awards Wednesday at the 31st Annual Transportation Awards. The awards were presented by the California Transportation Foundation.
  • Caltrans Completes Statewide Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Reports to Better Adapt Transportation System. Caltrans has finalized the last two of 12 district-based Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Reports designed to provide the department with a comprehensive database that will help in evaluating, mitigating, and adapting to the effects of increasing extreme weather events on the state transportation system. The final two reports cover Caltrans’ coastal districts 1 (Eureka) and 5 (Salinas south to Santa Barbara). The climate effects examined include rising average temperatures, higher sea levels, storm surge, and precipitation. These in turn increase the incidence of flooding, drought, wildfires, coastal erosion and mudslides.
  • Caltrans to replace concrete median barrier on US 101. Caltrans plans to begin construction this summer to replace the concrete median barrier on the US 101 spanning 19.3 miles between Hollywood and Woodland Hills in Los Angeles. Construction is scheduled to start Aug. 10 and continue until early 2023. Replacement of the existing barrier is part of a district-wide safety goal to improve the effectiveness of the barrier and reduce median collision severity for motorists.
  • Southern California Regional Rocks and Roads – Los Angeles History Link. When looking for images of the Pacific Electric Railway or something showing US 99 near downtown Los Angeles, I found this really cool website with a lot of old photos of the Los Angeles area. I recommend a visit! It is called Water and Power Associates.
  • 710 North Terminus Analysis Update. Question: How to terminate I-710 north of I-10? This is a briefing from the consulting company hired by Alhambra to make recommendations regarding the 710 N terminus in Alhambra.
  • 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.
  • Caltrans safety roadway replacement project begins on Highway 20 in Mendocino County. Caltrans has begun work on a safety improvement road construction on State Route 20, near Road 200A (mile markers 16.8 to 17.2), located south of Dunlap Pass and north of Big River Campground. Crews have begun obliterating the existing asphalt roadway by pulverizing the existing surface. During the excavation, the roads will be pulverized and traffic will be running on graveled surfaces. Upon completion of the construction of the new roadway alignment, new asphalt pavement will be installed.
  • Caltrans to air plans for Highway 37 in ’virtual open house’. The California Department of Transportation will have a “virtual scoping open house” on Wednesday evening, July 22 from 6 to 7:30 p.m., to discuss “congestion relief” for the state route known as Highway 37. It’s the start of a public review period to request comments on the scope and content of a proposed environmental study for SR 37, specifically from the Highway 121 intersection (at Sears Point, or the Sonoma Raceway) to Mare Island – the part of the road that currently narrows to one lane in each direction, between four-lane highway segments from Novato to Sears Point, and again from Mare Island to I-90 interchange.
  • 💰/SDUT Freeway project unearths a time when camels roamed San Diego. Paleontologists will tell you that field work is a lot like fishing. Nothing happens for long periods of time. But you can’t catch anything if you don’t have your line in the water. In San Diego, they’ve had their line in the water. Again. At a freeway construction project in Otay Mesa, paleontologists have found fossils that may open a window into what this part of the world looked like about 15 million years ago. It was a place where early camels roamed, and prehistoric hoofed mammals, and probably a carnivore or two. And where volcanoes erupted.
  • 💰/OCR A bill to block agencies from extending the 241 Toll Road is stalled in state Assembly. The coronavirus pandemic is holding up discussions on a bill that would block at the state level agencies from considering the extension of the 241 Toll Road south of Oso Parkway in Mission Viejo. Sen. Pat Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) has announced the California State Assembly’s Transportation Committee won’t hear her bill for the 2020 legislative session that ends Aug. 31. The committee will only be discussing legislation related to COVID-19, Bates said. The proposed bill had passed the State Senate in a 24-6 vote on June 26.
  • U.S. Interstate Highway System needs to be rebuilt and expanded, report says. The U.S. Interstate Highway System will need to be rebuilt and expanded to meet the nation’s growing transportation needs, according to a report released by TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit. The report, Restoring the Interstate Highway System: Meeting America’s Transportation Needs with a Reliable, Safe & Well-Maintained National Highway Network, looks at the Interstate system’s use, condition, and benefits, and the findings of a 2019 report prepared by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) at the request of Congress as part of the FAST Act on the condition and use of the Interstate system and on actions required to restore and upgrade the system.
  • 💰/SJMN Major bridge work coming on I-80: Roadshow. Q: A co-worker told me major work is coming on Interstate 80 before the Bay Bridge that could screw up traffic for several years? Is this true?
  • Curve Improvement Project Underway on State Route 36 in Tehama County. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans District 2), in conjunction with Tullis Inc., has begun work on the Diamond Star Curve Project on State Route 36 in Tehama County. The $2.3 million project is realigning the highway approximately 14 miles west of Red Bluff, from just west of Basler Road to just east of Diamond Star Road. Road connections at Basler Road, Easterbunny Drive, and Diamond Star Road will be reconstructed to conform to new alignment in the area.
  • 💰/BJ Caltrans I-80 Placer County bridge replacement project goes out for bid. The California Department of Transportation is accepting bids on a $38 million bridge replacement project in Placer and Nevada counties on Interstate 80.
  • ‘BLOOD ALLEY’ OPENS. (Manteca Route 120 Bypass) Manteca’s move away from a heavy dependence on agriculture and government jobs started in the 1970s. Spreckels Sugar was the biggest non-government employer when the decade started with 350 full-time and part-time jobs. The city had less than 10,000 residents. Ten years later, Indy Electronics displaced Spreckels as the top employer as almost 800 workers were working in the electronics plant. Indy was part of the Manteca Industrial Park that sprouted up in former fields along South Main Street.
  • Community discusses solutions to dangerous stretch of Highway 101 between Salinas and Chualar. Residents of South Monterey County are no strangers to having to travel north to Salinas or beyond for services or activities, and the stretch of Highway 101 between Salinas and Chualar was the topic of last week’s town hall safety discussion. Monterey County District 3 Supervisor Chris Lopez, Transportation Agency for Monterey County, Caltrans and the South of Salinas US 101 Traffic Safety Alliance invited community members to comment on their ideas for safety issues and improvements through a Zoom meeting July 15.
  • Section of I-680 in Alameda County to be carpool only during construction. The Interstate 680 lane between Calaveras Road and Mission Boulevard in Sunol will be restricted to carpool traffic starting Aug. 10, the state Department of Transportation and Alameda County Transportation Commission announced. That section of the interstate is in Alameda County. The change is to accommodate construction work such as paving, striping, electrical system upgrades and other improvements that will synchronize the Express Lanes, Caltrans reports.
  • I-8 and Imperial Avenue interchange demolished. In less than four hours, the half-a-century old Imperial Avenue interchange on Interstate 8 was reduced to a pile of rubble of cement and rebars by early Friday morning, July 24, in El Centro. “The interchange was constructed in 1967 as a business thoroughfare to El Centro,” said Luis Plancarte, Chairman of the Imperial County Board of Supervisors, at a time when the City had a population of 16,830 denizens based on estimates by the US Decennial Census.
  • Caltrans starts safety improvement project on Highway 174. Caltrans is scheduled to begin construction Monday, Aug. 3, on a $27.1 million safety improvement project on Highway 174 between Maple Way and You Bet Road in Nevada County. The project is realigning several curves, widening shoulders, adding a southbound left turn pocket at Greenhorn Access Road and improving the clear recovery zone, allowing errant vehicles to regain control. “We are pleased to break ground on a project that will improve the safety of this stretch of State Route 174 by reducing the severity of curves and adding other operational improvements,” said Caltrans District 3 Director Amarjeet S. Benipal. “The project also upgrades pedestrian and bicycle facilities along a beautiful stretch of Sierra-area highway, continuing our commitment to multi-modal methods of transportation.”
  • Southern California Regional Rocks and Roads – Old US 101 in San Diego. A reader, Mike Evans, recently contacted me regarding curb stamps along old US 101 near Middletown in San Diego. He found something which, to be honest, is most surprising. The City of San Diego had the practice of stamping the street name on the curb near intersections. As these intersections get upgraded with ADA compliant ramps, some of these stamps get lost. This one, however, was still there by virtue of a quirk of fate. Along Pacific Highway, between Palm St and Sassafras St, there is a stamp for “Atlantic St”. This stamp is mid-block, which seems odd at first as this isn’t where they are normally stamped. In this case, the stamp was retained but the intersection wasn’t. At some point, a short section of Quince St intersected Pacific Highway. As this only ran a short distance and was cut off by the railroad tracks, it was fairly easy to abandon and vacate. So, after the city did that, the intersection was erased, but the curb with the name remained.
  • Caltrans Repaves Roadway with Recycled Plastic Bottles.  Caltrans will repave a section of Highway 162 in Oroville this week using recycled asphalt pavement and liquid plastic made with single-use, plastic bottles – the first time the department has paved a road using 100 percent recycled materials. The pilot project features work on three lanes of a 1,000-foot highway segment. The department is testing the material for later use throughout the state. A one-mile segment of pavement using this treatment will recycle 150,000 plastic bottles.
  • SR-91 Plan Details $1.3 Billion of Planned Improvements. Each year, OCTA and the Riverside County Transportation Commission update the SR-91 Implementation Plan to ensure that projects are carefully coordinated to benefit drivers while minimizing construction impacts to commuters and the surrounding communities. The plan is updated in consultation with Caltrans, the Transportation Corridor Agencies, and the cities of Anaheim, Orange, Yorba Linda and Corona.

Gribblenation Blog (Tom Fearer)

  • California State Route 255. In this article we examine the history of California State Route 255 and the Humboldt Bay Bridge.
  • California State Rotue 29 (sic). This past November I took California State Route 29 from the outskirts of Napa to Interstate 80 as part of my route home from Santa Rosa.
  • California State Route 222; the unsigned State Highway connecting Talmage to the Redwood Highway. In this California Highway article we examine the history of California State Route 222 between Ukiah and Talmage in Mendocino County.
  • California State Route 283; former US Route 101 over the Rio Dell Bridge. This week we examine one of California’s shortest State Highways; California State Route 283. California State Route 283 includes the 1941 Rio Dell Bridge and is a former segment of US Route 101. The photo below is the Rio Dell Bridge after the 1964 Christmas Floods which wiped out the northern approach span.
  • California State Route 53. This week we examine the history of California State Route 53.
  • Old California State Route 41 on Road 425C, Road 425B, and Road 425A/Old Yosemite Road (updated).  I made an update to a previous CA 41 article pertaining to the original highway from Coarsegold north towards Yosemite National Park. The original article only covered Old CA 41 on Road 425B, the expanded article includes the full original alignment of Legislative Route 125/CA 41 north from Coarsegold towards Yosemite National Park. The original alignment of Legislative Route 125/CA 41 consisted of; Road 425C in Deadwood Gulch, Road 425B north from Deadwood Hill, Road 426 into Oakhurst, and Road 425A/Old Yosemite Road north towards Sugar Pine.
  • Into the foggy void; California State Route 43.  I made an update to the existing CA 43 article. New is a third segment which is a drive on what was the original route Legislative Route 135 between Hanford and Corcoran. The original LRN 135 was never part of CA 43 and from Hanford followed; 10th Avenue, Kansas Avenue, 10th 1/2 Avenue, and Whitley Avenue to Corcoran.