🛣 Headlines about California Highways for August 2020

Where is the time going, as the days turn into  months, and the months seemingly just go on. It seems like just yesterday it was May and June and I was reworking the site. But through it all I’ve been collecting headlines. So take a read through these, and when you are ready, let’d 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; LADN/Los Angeles Daily News; SDUT/San Diego Union Tribune; RBDN/Red Bluff Daily News]

  • Late July 2020 Update – Ridge Route Preservation Organization. Not much to report. I recently sent a letter to the Angeles National Forest, which we have confirmation they received, to get more information about ongoing issues. Two of the issues were regarding the gates. Now, as has been stated here many times, we want them open. While we have keys, we don’t really want to “need” them. However, with the gates being left open by others or being damaged, it tends to hurt our cause more than help. If the gates are open when they aren’t planned to be, why help to open them?
  • 💰/SJMN Current rules for I-880 carpool lane, and what will change. Q: What are the rules for the Interstate 880 toll carpool lanes under construction in Fremont? The signs imply that it is OK to use the lanes for no toll due to testing, even during normal carpool hours. If regular carpool rules are still in effect, this can be confusing.
  • Caltrans to Begin Construction on State Route 99 Live Oak Project. Construction crews are scheduled to start work Monday, July 27, on a major pavement and streetscape project on State Route 99 in Live Oak. Roadwork will take place in various stages from south of Pennington Road to north of Ramsdell Drive. Caltrans reminds residents that local businesses will be open during construction.
  • Highway construction project completed in northern SLO County. A highway improvement project in northern San Luis Obispo County is now complete. The project took place along eight miles of Highway 101 in the San Miguel area from north of Monterey Road to south of the East Garrison overcrossing near Camp Roberts in Monterey County.
  • Sonoma County to limit road spending cuts as state, other local funds decline. Sonoma County is preparing to put off or scale back some road maintenance projects while sustaining a core group of other upgrades to its sprawling network of rural roads, moves that officials say are the result of a multimillion-dollar funding shortfall for public works set in motion by the pandemic recession.
  • 🚫/NVR New plan looks to create a better Imola Avenue in Napa. Aproposal to transform car-centric Imola Avenue into a road that also emphasizes walking, cycling and mass transit comes with an estimated $14.3 million price tag. This 3.5-mile-long street is a hodgepodge of eras, looks and neighborhoods. Some parts have sidewalks, others don’t. One section passes homes, another bustling shopping centers, another vineyards, another the oak-covered hills of Skyline Wilderness Park.

  • 💰/LADN LA County approves ‘Vision Zero’ plan to eliminate traffic deaths by 2035. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Aug. 4, approved a plan to reduce traffic-related injuries and deaths in unincorporated areas of the county, setting a goal of zero fatalities by 2035. Supervisors Hilda Solis and Janice Hahn co-authored the motion to enhance street safety, saying traffic deaths had jumped by nearly 28% countywide from 2013-2017, with 3,400 lives lost. More than 10% of those people were killed on roadways in unincorporated communities.
  • Lake 29 Expressway project officially gets underway.  Decades in the making, construction is underway on the first segment of the Highway 29 expressway, the largest highway project in the county in 50 years. Caltrans held a virtual groundbreaking on July 17 for the Lake 29 Expressway, a $59 million project aimed at addressing the area’s most significant safety concerns – reducing collision rates for motorists and accommodating truck transportation along the interregional east-west highway. Due to the restrictions of COVID-19, Caltrans District 1 produced a virtual groundbreaking ceremony video for the Lake 29 Expressway Project.
  • 💰/PE Why don’t all US highways have mile markers?. Q: Jerry Vasser of Menifee and his wife travel the country often in their RV. In almost every state, he said, he’s seen interstate highways marked with postmile markers showing mileage on that highway from south to north or west to east, that also show number exits. “These are helpful in knowing where you are and how far to your exit,” Vasser said. He said that California has, in some areas, used the “number exits” based on mile markers but he asked why Caltrans doesn’t put mile markers up on the interstates. “These markers could be very helpful on United States highways and state highways as well. Currently each county has a version of these markers on the highways but they are small and difficult to read, and they have very little useful information on them,” our reader said. Vasser asked for more information about this issue. [The answer has a nice mention of my website]
  • Caltrans completes Santa Maria State Route 166 resurfacing project. Caltrans has announced the completion of State Route 166 resurfacing project that extends from Obispo Street in Guadalupe to Blosser Road in Santa Maria. The $2.8 million project included adding a new rubberized surface to that stretch of highway and resurfacing the roadway shoulder and portions of the two-way left-turn pockets. Rumble strips were also installed along the shoulder and center line.
  • Roadwork on I-80 starts Monday in Vacaville. Expect delays on Interstate 80 starting Monday night as Caltrans will be performing road repairs and sealing broken asphalt, mostly on westbound on and off ramps, in Vacaville and Fairfield. From 7 p.m. Monday to 5 a.m. Tuesday, eastbound I-80/Allison Road on ramp and I-80 west/Browns Valley Parkway on ramp in Vacaville will be closed.  From 7 p.m. Tuesday to 5 a.m. Wednesday, I-80 west/East Monte Vista off and on ramps in Vacaville will be closed. From 7 p.m. Wednesday to 5 a.m. Thursday, I-80 west/Mason Street off ramp in Vacaville will be closed.
  • 💰/SJMN No FasTrak? No problem, if you have the right app: Roadshow. Q: My husband, granddaughter and I were traveling Interstate 680 using the carpool lane. The signage said FasTrak, and another sign said HOV 3 or more. We don’t have FasTrak because we don’t travel those roads frequently. We were three in the car but got a ticket in the mail. Isn’t there carpool access anymore?
  • The Green Line is 25 years old. Some thoughts on that. Today, August 12, is the 25th anniversary of the C (Green) Line. Let’s pause and let the, uh, enormity of the moment sink in.If you’re sensing a certain ambivalence, you’re right. Here’s the conundrum with the C Line. It was built as part of the controversial 105 freeway project and ― let’s be honest ― would likely not be built the same way today. There were a range of racial injustices and environmental issues, including: 1) the bulldozing of low-income, communities of color for the freeway, and 2) making the train hard to reach by sticking mostly to the middle of a busy freeway. [Goes to why the Green Line is on the 105]
  • More than $1.6 billion to fund California highway projects, creating 20k jobs. The California Transportation Commission (CTC) announced Thursday it has allocated more than $1.6 billion toward transportation projects throughout the state. District 5 Funding Allocations – August 2020 According to Caltrans officials, the funds will support the following highway projects:
  • Caltrans going forward with Hwy 25 realignment. Despite objections from longtime residents, work is slated to start in January 2023. Calling the Caltrans project “a complete disaster,” South County residents voiced opposition to yet another plan to straighten out a highly contested curve on Highway 25 about 30 miles south of Hollister. Caltrans claims the curve is dangerous, but locals say there have been no accidents that they can recall.  After a public comment session on July 14 about a new Caltrans plan to re-do a costly and badly designed realignment of the road, the debate about the ever-increasing cost of the project continues. South county residents have consistently expressed their lack of support for Caltrans’ design.
  • Caltrans paving project on State Route 1 from Gualala River Bridge to Point Arena beginning Aug. 17. Caltrans will begin a new paving project on State Route 1 from Sonoma County (Gualala River Bridge) to 0.1 Mile south of Mill Street in Point Arena in Mendocino County on Monday, Aug. 17, and will continue for a four-month duration. The work scope consists of removing and replacing 4 inches of distressed pavement with new asphalt pavement, overlaying the existing pavement, and reconstructing dikes, guardrails and roadside signs for the entire 15 miles of the project. There will be a 24-hour daily work schedule, Monday through Friday, beginning Monday at 6 a.m. and ending Friday at 7 p.m.
  • Construction On State Route 243 To Impact North And South Traffic. A culvert replacement project along Highway 243 through Idyllwild will cause prolonged traffic disruptions next week, and motorists were advised to consider alternate routes. According to Caltrans, crews will be working to dig and replace drainage channels in the area of Saunders Meadows Road, at the south edge of Idyllwild, and the operation will require flagging on the north and southbound sides of the two-lane corridor, moving vehicles into one lane going in both directions at different intervals.
  • Caltrans completes Santa Maria State Route 166 resurfacing project. Caltrans has announced the completion of State Route 166 resurfacing project that extends from Obispo Street in Guadalupe to Blosser Road in Santa Maria. The $2.8 million project included adding a new rubberized surface to that stretch of highway and resurfacing the roadway shoulder and portions of the two-way left-turn pockets. Rumble strips were also installed along the shoulder and center line.
  • Funding for second phase of I-80/680/Route 12 interchange approved. Another Solano Transportation Authority (STA) project is moving further along. The California Transportation Commission (CTC) approved the allocation of $66.1 billion of funds for the second phase of the I-80/I-680/Route 12 Interchange Project on Wednesday. The next phase in the seven-phase project seeks to replace the existing single-lane eastbound State Route 12 connector to eastbound Interstate 80 with a new two-lane connector, in addition to constructing direct on and offramps from I-80 to Green Valley Road in Fairfield.
  • Lost Lincoln Highway alignments. The Lincoln Highway Association map shows us the old route to the best of our knowledge. The Lincoln Highway Association cartographers take great pains to make sure the road is marked correctly. However, due to time, some of the old routes or alignments remain unmapped or “lost.” Monica and I enjoy following the map and trying to find some of these lost alignments so we can update the map as needed.
  • Caltrans announces more than $1.6 billion for transportation projects; Lake County road work included. The California Transportation Commission on Friday allocated more than $1.6 billion for transportation projects throughout the state, including about $1.3 billion for State Highway Operation and Protection Program projects, Caltrans’ “fix-it-first” program aimed at preserving the condition of the State Highway System.  Also included in the list is a $9.5 million allocation for safety improvements on Highway 20 near Witter Springs Road in Lake County. In addition to the Lake County project, other District 1 funding allocations include:
  • SR-246 Bridge Repairs. Caltrans will perform repairs on the Santa Ynez River Bridge on Hwy. 246 near Lompoc on Tuesday, August 18 through Thursday, August 20. Motorists will encounter one-way reversing traffic control on State Route 246 from State Route 1 (“H”) Street to Sweeney Road from 8 am until 2 pm. Electronic message boards will be activated to inform the public about this roadwork. Delays should not exceed 10 minutes.
  • ‘Left Turn’ Restriction Goes Into Effect At Busy Gilroy Crossing. A “No Left Turn” restriction from Bolsa Rd on to Southbound State Route 25, in Gilroy will go into effect the week of Aug. 14, Caltrans announced on Twitter Thursday. The restriction is a pilot program that aims to reduce rush hour traffic from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, Caltrans said.
  • 💰/SDUT San Diego planners unveil a $177 billion plan to expand transit, toll highways. High-speed rail from Oceanside to the international border. Transit hubs with autonomous shuttles. Highway express lanes for buses, carpooling and drivers willing to pay. San Diego’s top transportation planners unveiled on Friday a $177 billion plan to radically transform travel throughout the region by 2050.
  • Metro Looks To Shift High Desert Freeway Funds to High-Speed Rail. At today’s 3 p.m. Metro Planning and Programming Committee, boardmembers will consider programming monies slated for the now-canceled High Desert Corridor freeway to instead study building rail there. The 63-mile High Desert Corridor freeway was planned to connect Palmdale, in north L.A. County, to Victorville, in San Bernardino County. The corridor is split between those two counties.
  • 💰/RBDN Work planned on on several Tehama County bridges. Caltrans announced Friday it is planning to remove sediment around four bridges in Tehama County. The California Transportation Commission allocated more than $1.6 billion for transportation projects throughout the state, including about $1.3 billion for State Highway Operation and Protection Program projects, according to a press issued by Caltrans. The agency’s “fix-it-first” program aims at preserving the condition of the state highway system.
  • Reminder: Two-week full closure of US50 scheduled for Echo Summit Project. After a delay in getting materials in 2019, Caltrans has scheduled a full closure of U.S. Highway 50 for the Echo Summit Sidehill Viaduct Replacement Project for two weeks beginning  Friday, Sept. 18. After the delay last year, the contractor on the project was going to install the bridge girders in June of 2020, but many wanted that timeframe postponed due to the the opening of tourist season after COVID-related closures this past spring. The closure is required to install seven 96-foot bridge girders and associated work. There will be one-way traffic control 24/7 scheduled to begin Sunday, Sept. 13 until Friday, Sept. 18 to demolish the existing bridge before installing the girders. The full closure of Highway 50 is set to start Friday, Sept. 18 and expected to conclude on Friday, Oct. 2. Weather or other unexpected delays may prolong the closure.
  • Consider This: New SR-67 problem. There is news afoot on the status of the SR 67 improvement project, but the news is discouraging. Please read on because you have the opportunity to make a difference. In 1988, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) both described SR-67 as a “dangerous and obsolete corridor.” They were anticipating the problems we are experiencing today. In 2004, San Diego County taxpayers passed the TransNet Tax to improve 14 named highway projects, including the widening of SR-67 to four lanes.
  • The Start of an Ambitious Sign-Posting Effort for the National Old Trails Road – Transportation History. Starting at their home base in the Los Angeles region, the members of the Automobile Club of Southern California formally launched a project that would take them well beyond the Golden State. The inauguration of that project, while easily overshadowed by other news such as the recent outbreak of World War I in Europe and debut of the Panama Canal, was nonetheless noteworthy and far-reaching in its own right: the installation of signs along the western half of the National Old Trails Road. That idea for that road had been officially proposed in 1912 as a transcontinental highway stretching from the southwestern U.S. to the Eastern Seaboard along such old routes as the Santa Fe Trail and the National Road. The Automobile Club of Southern California embraced the National Old Trails Road for the long-distance motor vehicle travel options it would make possible.
  • 💰/SJMN Highway 85 decision saved money, but cost lives: Roadshow. Q: When Highway 85 opened in 1994, I read that a citizens’ committee had taken over the project from Caltrans because Caltrans was taking too long after decades of delay and growing cost.
  • 💰/PE Construction of new westbound 91 Freeway lane in Corona to start in October.  A little morning rush-hour relief may be in store for Inland Empire commuters who drive the 91 Freeway through an incessant pinch point at the Riverside-Orange county  line. Construction of a new 2-mile, general-purpose westbound lane on the 91 — from Green River Road in Corona to the 241 toll road in eastern Orange County — is set to begin in October and finish in 12 months, transportation officials said.
  • 💰/SJMN Final stretch of 25-mile carpool lane to open on Interstate 680. The final southbound stretch of the almost 25-mile Interstate 680 expressway/carpool lane from Martinez to San Ramon — the longest in the Bay Area — will open Monday a year ahead of schedule. Workers have finished the final gap, a four-mile segment from Treat Boulevard to Rudgear Road in Walnut Creek, which is part of a larger project that spans from Marina Vista Avenue in Martinez south to Rudgear Road in Walnut Creek. The new stretch, totaling 11 miles, will operate as an HOV or carpool lane for clean-air vehicles and cars occupied by at least two people from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays.
  • El Centro’s Imperial Improvement. Granite Construction Inc. is continuing to make progress on the California Department of Transportation’s (Caltrans) $44 million, multi-year project to reconstruct the interchange at Imperial Avenue and Interstate 8 (I-8) in the city of El Centro. The initiative will remove the existing bridge and eastbound on- and off-ramps, then reconstruct the structure and the on- and off-ramps in both directions, construct a new entrance loop ramp from southbound Imperial Avenue to eastbound I-8 and create access to the city’s upcoming extension of southbound Imperial Avenue to city areas south of I-8.
  • 11-Mile Carpool Lane Link on I-680 Opens a Year Early. Eleven miles of a new carpool lane on southbound Interstate Highway 680 between Treat Boulevard and Rudgear Road through Walnut Creek in Contra Costa County opened Monday, on budget and a year ahead of schedule, Bay Area transportation officials said. The opening of thE new stretch closes a gap between two other previously completed carpool lane/express lane zones, resulting in a 25-mile continuous southbound carpool (or paid FasTrak toll lane) from Martinez to San Ramon, officials from the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission said.
  • Caltrans shifts ramp work to Benicia, Fairfield freeways. Crews are wrapping up road repairs and sealing broken asphalt this week on eastbound Interstate 780 and on Green Valley Road in Fairfield. The latest phase of the work started Tuesday in Solano County.
  • Solano transfers I-80 right of way to state for interchange project. Solano County supervisors on Tuesday handed over 1.16 acres of right of way to the state for an easement on the Interstate 80/Interstate 680/Highway 12 Interchange Project – an exchange of property that should have been done in 1967.
  • Union Road interchange could be done by Black Friday. Manteca could save up to $200,000 and have work done on the diverging diamond interchange at Union Road and the 120 Bypass four months ahead of schedule. And, as an added bonus, work would be done before Black Friday to make sure critical holiday traffic to Bass Pro Shops that draws 97 percent plus of its customers from within a 100-mile radius and is one of the city’s biggest collectors of sales tax won’t be impeded by construction.
  • Saturday Lane closures planned on highway 395 in Adelanto. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) maintenance crews will continue installing damaged and missing delineators in the median of Route 395 in Adelanto from Desert Flower Road to Trenton Road/Mulz Road. The work will take place on Saturday, August 29, from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  • I-5 project makes progress with Metro vote. The Interstate 5 project in the Santa Clarita Valley, which looks to enhance capacity and safety, is one step closer to construction following a unanimous vote Thursday from the Metro board of directors. Board members approved a $50 million, five-year construction support services contract with Hill International Inc. for the project, which will add new north and south carpool lanes between State Route 14 and the 5 freeway interchange and in Castaic, as well as add southbound truck-only lanes through Newhall.

Gribblenation Blog (Tom Fearer)

  • Old US Route 99 through Tipton, Tulare, and Tagus Ranch. This summer I had a look into the alignment history of US Route 99 through the Tulare County communities of; Tipton, Tulare, and Tagus Ranch. While this slab below might seem like much it is one of the few remaining reminders of how US Route 99 was during the 1920s in Tulare County.
  • Old US Route 99 in Goshen, Traver, and the Warlow Rest Area. This summer I had a look into the alignment history of US Route 99 through the Tulare County communities of Traver and Goshen. The photo below is take from Camp Drive northbound in Goshen on what was US Route 99 until the early 1930s.
  • Caifornia State Route 140 and El Portal Road. (Updated) Back in January of 2017 I was looking to make a day trip out to Yosemite for the winter but California State Route 41 and the Wawona Road were under R2 chain restrictions. Given that I was driving a two wheel drive car at the time I headed out from the Central Valley early in the morning and took California State Route 140 through the Merced River Canyon to Yosemite Valley via the El Portal Road.
  • California State Route 253. This week we examine the history of California State Route 253 in Mendocino County.
  • Old US Route 99 through Madera on Gateway Drive. Recently I took a detour off the modern Golden State Freeway onto former US Route 99 on Gateway Drive in Madera.
  • California State Route 9.  (Updated) After finishing the Goat Trail section of California State Route 35 I took California State Route 17 back to the north terminus of California State Route 9 in Los Gatos. My next route of travel was on the entirety of California State Route 9 southwest to Santa Cruz.
  • Onion Valley Road; former California State Route 180 to Kearsarge Pass. This summer I had an opportunity to drive one of the lesser known great roads of California; Onion Valley Road from Independence west to Onion Valley near Kearsarge Pass. Aside from being massive climb into the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains the path of Onion Valley Road was once signed as California State Route 180 and was intended to be part of a Trans-Sierra Highway.
  • Horseshoe Meadows Road; former California State Route 190 and the legacy of the Lone Pine-Porterville HIgh Sierra Road. This summer I had an opportunity to drive one of the lesser known great roads of California; Horseshoe Meadows Road from Whitney Portal Road westward into Horseshoe Meadows of the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. Aside from being massive climb into the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains the path of Horseshoe Meadows Road was once part of California State Route 190 and was intended to be part of a Trans-Sierra Highway known as the Lone Pine-Porterville High Sierra Road.
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