And I thought October was busy! November was equally busy with theatre, recording and producing Episode 1.05, and getting the updates to the highway page done. December is starting with the Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC), with may mean a delay of a week or two in getting Episode 1.06 up.
I’ve come to learn that one of the hardest parts of podcasts is scaring up interviews. We’re still finalizing the interview for Episode 1.06, and I’m still open on upcoming episodes. I’m looking for someone who is willing to talk for 30 minutes or so on the following:
- For 1.07: The California Post-Mile System: Its origin, its use, and why California sticks with it.
- For 1.08: We return to the US highway system, so I’m looking for someone to discuss some of the history of the numbers of US highways in the state; or, alternatively, someone from AASHTO on the process for getting highway numbers approved.
- For 1.09: We return to the Interstates, so I’m looking for someone with some interesting insights on California’s interstate submittals.
If you or someone you know would be interested in helping this project, please contact me.
The updates to the California Highway pages were posted last week; the next update round will be between Christmas and New Years. I’m finishing off the last podcast script for Season 1 this week.
Enough of this shameless self-promotion. Here are the headlines that I found about California’s highways for November:
[Ħ Historical information | ＄ Paywalls, ＄＄ really obnoxious paywalls, and ∅ other annoying restrictions. I’m no longer going to list the paper names, as I’m including them in the headlines now. Note: For ＄ paywalls, sometimes the only way is incognito mode, grabbing the text before the paywall shows, and pasting into an editor.]
California Highways: Route by Route Podcast
- CARxR Ep. 1.05: Chronology – The Great Renumbering and New Freeways. In this episode, we’re continuing to explore the history of the State Highway System, focusing on the construction boom in the 1960s under the administration of Pat Brown. This period saw the great renumbering, as highways were unified under a combined legislative / sign route system (as opposed to the separate systems that existing previously). It also saw a tremendous expansion of the freeways as construction worked hard to meet the construction deadlines. The period ended with the passage of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the election of Ronald Reagan, and the Freeway Revolts. Our interview is with Arturo Salazar, a retired District 7 Caltrans engineer and moderator of the Freeways of Los Angeles Facebook group.
- Highway 101 project in Salinas is set to begin on Nov. 6 (KSBW 8). Caltrans will begin a six-month project in Salinas starting on Nov. 6 at Highway 101 North and Kern Street. This project will include widening, and extending the E. Market St. onramp to northbound U.S. 101 by 1,500 feet, repaving of the roadway, and construction of a concrete barrier and a retaining wall. When construction begins there will be a closure of the East Market Street onramp to northbound Highway 101for six months.
- Why is Highway 101 in the middle of Santa Rosa? (Press Democrat). Having Highway 101 run north and south smack through the middle of Santa Rosa may be convenient, but the divide it creates between east and west is mostly unfortunate. Some Santa Rosans in the 1940s thought the Highway 101 route could be placed around the town instead of through it and proposed routes further east or west, possibly along Fulton and Wright roads, to ease truck traffic in the city. But some businessmen worried about potential customers being rerouted too far from shops lobbied to have it close to downtown, and ultimately the city council agreed.
- Express lanes on Highway 101 starting to open (San Mateo Daily Journal). The Highway 101 express lane section from Whipple Avenue in Redwood City to Interstate 380 in South San Francisco is now open to the public, with transit authorities declaring it a soft opening. The express lanes will be open to vehicles with three or more passengers and motorcycles only from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday. The new express lanes will be open to all vehicles during all other times. Full operations will start in early 2023 once crews complete construction for signal operations. SamTrans spokesperson Dan Lieberman said by email tolling will not start until the official opening in 2023, with the lane still operating as a HOV 3+ lane, rather than a general purpose lane. SamTrans spokesperson Mahmoud Abunie said the soft opening would allow transit officials to examine traffic flow and signal runs for carpoolers while also allowing the public to use it. Abunie said the public desire to see it opened also played a role in the soft opening.
- ＄New Bay Area express lanes on Hwy. 101 are opening. Here’s how you can buy your way into them (San Francisco Chronicle). Drivers with two or more passengers in their cars can pull into the new express lanes on Highway 101 along much of the Peninsula, even as engineers and contractors finish installing and testing toll equipment. The lanes, which stretch nearly 16 miles from Whipple Avenue in Redwood City on the south to Interstate 380 on the north, will be a combination of a toll lane and a carpool lane when they fully open early next year, offering free rides to carpoolers and allowing anyone to buy their way in.
- Bay Area city moves to ban all right turns on red lights (SF Gate). “I don’t want to move to a city where the only cultural advantage is being able to make a right turn on a red light,” Alvy Singer famously said about moving from New York to California. That incentive may no longer be true of Berkeley, after the first steps in a proposal to ban right turns on red lights citywide was approved last week. “From the way we design our roads to the rules we set for them, cars are given priority in the public right of way at the express detriment to pedestrians and cyclists,” Berkeley councilmember Terry Taplin wrote in the budget proposal, first shared by Berkeleyside, that was approved on Thursday. “One such example is the de facto right given to cars to turn ‘Right on Red’ at signalized intersections.”
- Marin officials unyielding on San Anselmo bridge closure (Marin IJ). Despite their persistent lobbying efforts, San Anselmo leaders have failed to prod the county to reopen a dilapidated bridge over San Anselmo Creek. The bridge’s platform, which became a community gathering place during the height of the COVID-19 shutdown, was closed to the public on Sept. 16 after the county’s public works department received an engineer’s report warning that the bridge was at risk of “catastrophic” failure in the event of an earthquake. Some town leaders have complained bitterly about the decision and launched an effort to reopen the bridge. Members of the Town Council and business leaders have raised the issue in emails sent to county supervisors and addressed the supervisors directly during the public comment period of their weekly meetings.
- I Street Bridge pedestrian/bike conversion to get $16 million (Sacramento Business Journal). A plan to turn the top level of the I Street Bridge into a pedestrian walkway and bike lane over the Sacramento River has gotten a boost in recent weeks. Recently, project planners filed its financial documents. Then in late October the project was recommended for a $16 million grant through the state’s Active Transportation Program. “We beat out a lot of other projects, and I believe we were one of the top 10 highest-funded awards in the state,” said Jason McCoy, manager of the transportation division of West Sacramento’s Community Development Department.
- ＄Caltrans plans to install traffic signal at SR-67 and Mussey Grade Road (Ramona Sentinel). Caltrans officials say a traffic signal is needed at the intersection of state Route 67 and Mussey Grade Road, the site of two fatal accidents this year. “Caltrans completed its most recent investigation at SR-67/Mussey Grade Road and determined that a traffic signal is appropriate due to increased traffic volumes,” said Steve Welborn, Caltrans spokesman, in a Nov. 2 statement. “It should allow vehicles at Mussey Grade Road to enter SR-67 safely and reduce high severity collisions.” A project such as this typically takes several years to complete, but Caltrans is working to implement it sooner, Welborn said. Caltrans estimates the traffic signal would cost $1.5 million and is expected to be paid for by Caltrans.
- Highway 99 metering lights go active Monday in Chico (Action New Now). Drivers may have to wait a moment before they get on Highway 99 in Chico in the morning. The new meter lights will be turned on on two entrance ramps Monday, Nov. 14. On the ramp, you have to wait for a green to go. The meter lights are used bigger cities like Los Angeles. During the heaving morning traffic the lights are at the entrance ramps to northbound Highway 99 from East 20th Street and Skyway. Caltrans says its adding these to improve travel time and traffic congestion. The meters are designed to make merging onto the freeway safer.
- San Rafael examines costs, impacts of I-580 connector (Marin IJ). New estimates suggest it will cost $192 million to $315 million to build a proposed connector between Highway 101 and Interstate 580 in San Rafael, transportation officials said. The updated estimates were presented to the San Rafael City Council this week as planners gear up to launch a three-year environmental analysis of the project. The Transportation Authority of Marin is leading the effort. “During that time is when all the in-depth studies will be done, in terms of traffic, noise, air quality, etc.,” Connie Fremier, the TAM project manager, told the council on Monday. “So we’re anxious to get this phase of the project started so we can get into those studies.”
- Improvements coming to Highway 99/Turner Road Interchange (ABC 10). Improvements are coming to what’s called the “Northern gateway into Lodi” off Highway 99. The project aims to help with traffic flow on and off State Route 99 and the Turner Road Interchange area in Lodi. The off-ramp section between Pioneer Drive and Turner Way will be reconstructed for two-way traffic. The area will also have new access for bicyclists and pedestrians that wasn’t there before. The on-ramp from Pioneer Drive to southbound SR-99 will be longer to make for safer driving conditions.
- Design for Santa Rosa highway crossing gets one more look (Press Democrat). The design for a bicycle and pedestrian crossing over Highway 101 will be presented once more to Santa Rosa officials during a Dec. 1 meeting. An updated design to the crossing, which will link Elliott and Edwards avenues immediately south of Coddingtown Mall, is expected to reflect suggestions made last November during a Santa Rosa Design Review Board meeting. Board members requested refined designs for elements like fencing, railings and the proposed landing on the east side of Highway 101, city officials said this week.
- SR-12 lanes closed in both directions due to Rio Vista bridge malfunction (CBS Sacramento). Lanes are blocked in both directions on SR-12 due to a malfunction with the Rio Vista bridge. Caltrans says that eastbound and westbound lanes on SR-12 are blocked due to the bridge not operating. No estimated time of reopening has been given, and Caltrans is advising motorists to take alternate routes.
- Highway 156 project continues with earthworks and soil stabilization (SanBenito.com). Construction on the Highway 156 Corridor Improvement Project will continue with large-scale earthwork moving, according to a project update from the California Department of Transportation. The upcoming work will be focused east of Mission Vineyard Road and continuing toward Union Road. Crews are stabilizing the previously irrigated landscape with lime to help stabilize and harden the soil, according to Caltrans. Progress on earthworks and below-surface work will continue, weather permitting, with “only minor delays having been experienced during recent rains,” reads a press release from Caltrans.
- ‘154 is the State Route not the speed limit’, CHP cites Lamborghini driver (KSBY). A California Highway Patrol Buellton officer pulled over a speeding driver along Highway 154 on Sunday. CHP Buellton posted on Facebook saying one of their officers pulled over a driver of a Lamborghini for speeding. According to the post, the driver was driving 152 MPH in a 55 MPH speed zone along Highway 154. “We know how tempting it can be to “open it up” when your car is fast and the weather is beautiful, but save it for the track!” read the post.
- ‘Slip outs’ prompt partial closure of Angeles Crest Highway: Caltrans (Fox 11). Officials announced Tuesday that a portion of the Angeles Crest Highway in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties is closed until further notice after a storm drenched the area earlier this month. The powerful storm brought rain to most of Southern California and snow to the mountain communities, prompting weather alerts across the region. Following the cold storm, the area has since been hit with howling Santa Ana winds. Caltrans officials said the Angeles Crest Highway is closed from High 39/Islip Saddle to Vincent Gulch as maintenance crews work to mitigate multiple “slip outs” where storms eroded the soil.
- Speed reduced on State Route 99E by Cal Trans (Red Bluff Daily News). In its ongoing effort to improve traveler safety, Cal Trans District 2 has decreased the speed limit on State Route 99E near the South Avenue intersection. The speed limit has been reduced from 65 mph to 55 mph for this corridor just south of Los Molinos, according to Cal Trans. Motorists will notice new regulatory signs on the road. The South Avenue intersection may soon see construction begin for a roundabout Cal Trans has planned for it.
- Newsom proclaims state of emergency for I-5 repairs (Santa Clarita Signal). Gov. Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency Saturday in Los Angeles County in an effort to expedite and support the necessary measures to repair Interstate 5 as a result of the Route Fire in late August. The Route Fire broke out on Aug. 31 and burned more than 5,000 acres during an extreme heat event. The fire caused damage to a 2-mile stretch of Interstate 5, which affected traffic for a period of time while the state Department of Transportation repaired the roadway and retaining walls.
- ＄The ghost of dead 710 Freeway extension in Pasadena haunts drivers’ map apps (San Gabriel Valley Tribune). Since 1959, local communities in the west San Gabriel Valley have fought against a proposed extension of the 710 Long Beach Freeway through El Sereno, South Pasadena and Pasadena. Their drawn-out battle worked, and the state killed the freeway project in 2018. Though most certainly dead, the non-built freeway’s digital ghosts remain, jumping into your smartphone’s direction apps, conjuring up a confusing, and some say misleading set of GPS directions, maps and notifications. Both Google maps and Apple maps label an exit from the intersection of the 210/134 freeways in Pasadena as “Route 710” and “Long Beach Freeway.”
- Richmond-San Rafael Bridge bike path enters final year of trial run (Marin IJ). The bicycle and pedestrian path on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge has entered a critical final year of a four-year test run, with studies so far showing it has had declining use but also causes no significant traffic impacts for East Bay commuters entering Marin. The $20 million path opened three years ago this month as part of a pilot project led by Caltrans and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. The path is on the upper deck where the emergency pullout lane existed and is separated from two lanes of traffic by a moveable barrier. The pilot project also opened a third lane to vehicle traffic on the lower, eastbound deck during the peak afternoon commute period to the East Bay.
- ＄Ortega Highway, linking Orange and Riverside counties, is picturesque — and deadly – (Orange County Register). Ortega Highway offers motorists picturesque views of the Cleveland National Forest’s canyons and scrub-covered peaks — and a winding route that poses constant challenges and is home, too often, to death. Surrounded by sheer walls and steep drop-offs, Ortega, also called Highway 74, features one blind curve after another that obscures what’s just beyond the next bend. With help from UC Berkeley traffic safety researchers, state officials map deaths on California’s highways and freeways going back to 2011. Through August of last year, when the statistics were last updated, at least 57 people died in crashes along Highway 74’s heart, the 28 miles from the 5 Freeway in San Juan Capistrano to Grand Avenue in the City of Lake Elsinore.
- Coastal Commission approves permit for Jack Peters Bridge improvements (The Mendocino Beacon). On November 18, 2022, at a scheduled meeting held in Salinas, CA, the California Coastal Commission unanimously approved Caltrans’ permit application for safety improvement work on the Jack Peters Bridge on Highway 1, just north of the Lansing Street exit. The report was presented by Coastal Commission staff person Paul Allen who was reinforced with a short follow-up by Caltrans Coastal Liaison Lorna McFarlane. Public comment by adjacent landowners raised concerns about the aesthetics of PG& E lines, but McFarlane responded that PG& E has refused to bury the lines, calling it “cost prohibitive.”
- Plan to cut lanes from Tahoe highway draws local protests (SF Gate). A plan to reshape Highway 50 around Lake Tahoe has received so much pushback from concerned locals that the project is being delayed once again. The Highway 50 Tahoe East Shore Corridor Management Plan is a massive, multi-agency restructuring of Tahoe’s most-trafficked route. U.S. Highway 50 was planned and built in the 1920s when the Tahoe Basin was a very different place, and recent studies by the Nevada Department of Transportation have shown that the main thoroughfare around the lake no longer safely accommodates the amount of drivers using it.
- Crews Construct Caltrans’ Longest Single Span (Construction Equipment Guide). Crews are constructing a new 1,400-ft. bridge with standard lanes and shoulders over Honcut Creek, the longest Caltrans has ever designed, widening the existing two-lane highway to five lanes (two lanes in each direction, with a turning lane in the center); creating a continuous two-way left turn; widening the shoulders to 8 ft.; upgrading the existing drainage systems; and establishing an area for vehicles veering off the roadway to return to the main highway. The passing lane segment, between East Gridley Road and Lower Honcut Road, opened to traffic on Nov. 23, 2022. The new 1,400-ft. long bridge over Honcut Creek will have two westbound lanes with 8-ft. wide shoulders. The existing bridges cover eastbound traffic.
- Metropolitan Transportation Commission explores adding tolls to Bay Area freeways (San Mateo Daily Journal). Bay Area transit officials are studying increased tolling based on the number of miles driven on a freeway, with officials seeking public input for its study. Staff with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission are conducting a study on how to address transportation problems around past and current policy inequities, funding issues and traffic congestion. MTC is the regional transportation planning agency for the Bay Area, providing funding and policy oversight for transportation agencies throughout the region. One of the possibilities is a per-mile freeway toll, where someone would pay a toll based on the distance driven, similar to using electronic means like the Bay Area FasTrak system, according to MTC officials. It would be different from the state’s proposed vehicle miles traveled fee, which is envisioned as a replacement for the gas tax. No information on tolling costs or how and when implementation would occur has been decided, given the early nature of the idea.
Gribblenation Blog (Tom Fearer)
- California State Route 210 (legacy of California State Route 30). California State Route 210 is a forty-mile-long limited access State Highway located in Los Angeles County and San Bernardino County. California State Route 210 exists as a non-Interstate continuation of Interstate 210 and the Foothill Freeway between California State Route 57 in San Dimas east to Interstate 10 Redlands. California State Route 210 was previously designated as California State Route 30 until the passage of 1998 Assembly Bill 2388, Chapter 221. Since 2009 the entirety of what was California State Route 30 has been signed as California State Route 210 upon the completion of the Foothill Freeway extension. Below westbound California State Route 210 can be seen crossing the Santa Ana River as the blog cover. California State Route 30 can be seen for the last time on the 2005 Caltrans Map below.
- Paper Highways: California State Route 81. California State Route 81 is a never constructed thirty-one-mile State Highway which was located in the Inland Empire area. California State Route 81 was defined as part of the 1964 State Highway Renumbering over what had been part of Legislative Route Number 276. California State Route 81 is presently defined as being routed from Interstate 215 east of Riverside to Interstate 15 south of Devore. Above the blog cover photo depicts the planned California State Route 81 can be seen as it appeared on the 1970 Division of Highways Map.
- Establishing the numbering conventions of California’s chargeable Interstates. The Federal Highway Aid Act of 1956 brought the Interstate Highway System into existence which would largely be constructed by Federal Highway Administration fund matching. The Interstate Highway System was deliberately numbered to run opposite the established conventions of the US Route System. While the Interstate Highway numbering conventions are now well established there was a period during the late 1950s where they were still being finalized. This blog examines the history of the establishing of the chargeable Interstate Highway route numbers in California. The above blog cover depicts the Interstate Highway route numbers requested by the Division of Highways in the Los Angeles area during November 1957.
- Former US Route 99 in Imperial. The city of Imperial lies within the Sonoran Desert of Imperial County and once was part of the alignment of US Route 99. US Route 99 originally was aligned on Imperial Avenue through the city of Imperial. US Route 99 was realigned immediately east of Imperial Avenue onto a bypass expressway during 1950. US Route 99 would in Imperial would be replaced by California State Route 86 during 1963 when the former was truncated to downtown Los Angeles. The blog cover depicts the original alignment of US Route 99 along Imperial Avenue in the city of Imperial during 1940. US Route 99 can be seen passing through Imperial via Imperial Avenue on the 1935 Division of Highways Map of Imperial County.
- Former California State Route 152 east of Pacheco through the San Luis Reservoir. Dinosaur Point Road east of Pacheco Pass to the waters of the San Luis Reservoir is the original alignment of California State Route 152. Since July 1965, California State Route 152 has been realigned east of Pacheco Pass via a modernized expressway. The original alignment of California State Route 152 on occasion reemerges from the San Luis Reservoir at Dinosaur Point. Pictured above as the blog cover is the original alignment of California State Route 152 at Dinosaur Point disappearing eastward into the waters of the San Luis Reservoir. Below California State Route 152 can be seen passing through what is now the San Luis Reservoir east of Pacheco Pass on the 1935 Division of Highways Map of Merced County.