🛣 Headlines About California Highways – February 2023

Two months down. Alright, who had “Snow in the Hollywood Hills in February” on their climate bingo card? Anyone. We were on vacation in Escondido at the end of February, and the drive back had us seeing snow on the mountains between Riverside and Orange counties, snow on the mountains of San Diego, snow above La-Canada Flintridge and Sylmar, and even snow in the Santa Susanna Mountains above Porter Ranch. But don’t worry, soon it will be back over 100 in Northridge again. Vacation gave me time to process loads of great email I’ve been sent by Joel Windmiller — expect to see loads of information on freeway proposals, adoptions, and rescissions in the next highway page update. But before I can finish that off, I need to post the February headlines so I can process them.

The podcast continues. For our most recent episode, someone from AASHTO said he would do an interview… and then stopped responding to emails. So we posted Part I, and if he ever responds it will be Part II. We do have the interview lined up for 1.09, and I’m still working on someone for 1.10 and 1.11. Want to help? Here’s what I’m looking for:

  • For 1.10: We’re looking at the county sign routes. I’m looking for someone from a County Public Works department to talk about their involvement with the County Sign Route system, as Caltrans seems to have forgotten about it.
  • For 1.11: I’d like an Assemblycritter to talk about naming resolutions. I’ve sent out a few queries, but no bites as of yet.
  • For 1.12 (the last episode of the season): I’m working on getting someone from the CTC to talk about what they do.

If you or someone you know would be interested in helping this project, please contact me.

As for the February headlines: The ones that caught my eye were very light this month. The winter weather was part of it; part of it is that I don’t really care about resurfacings or temporary closures (except for larger problems like sinkholes). So not only was February a short month, it was a light headline month. Plus, the tool I use for grabbing headlines (Eversync) seems to have been acting up and not always synchronizing. As a result, some of these headlines might be duplicated from January, and if I missed an article of interest, please let me know.

Enough of this shameless self-promotion. Here are the headlines that I found about California’s highways for February:


[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

  • California Highways: Route by Route logoCARxR 1.08: Highway Numbering: U.S. Highways (Part I).In this episode, we continue our exploration of numbering of state highways by turning our attention to the U.S. highway system. These are the white shields with black numbers. It is the second episode in a four part miniseries on highway numbers in California. In this episode we talk about the history of the US highway system, how the US highways are numbered, how things have changed in the post-Interstate era, and we wax rhapsodic on the nostalgia of US highways. The remaining episodes in the miniseries will explore the numbering of and the history of California’s Interstates, and the signed county route system.Our interview for this episode was to be with Jim McDonnell of AASHTO on AASHTO’s role in assigning US and Interstate numbers. But we’ve run into scheduling difficulties and haven’t been able to coordinate a recording time by our scheduled drop date. So consider this Part I of the episode. When we can get things coordinated with Jim we’ll record and release Part II.

Back episodes are available at the Podcast’s forever home, as well as on its anchor.fm home. The anchor.fm also has links to the podcast’s page on most major podcasting services.

Highway Headlines

  • Highway 92 Closed in San Mateo County (NBC Bay Area). Highway 92 in San Mateo County continues to be shut down in both directions and authorities early Friday had no estimated time lanes would reopen. The county sent an alert at about 3:30 a.m. Thursday indicating the closure from upper Skyline Boulevard to Pilarcitos Creek Road. It did not initially specify a reason for the complete closure but later said the hazard was classified as a sinkhole. Motorists were urged to take alternate routes. Caltrans recommended drivers take Highway 1 via Pacifica to get to and from Half Moon Bay. There is another sinkhole on Highway 1 at Pescadero that has traffic down to one lane in that area.
  • A trip down the most mysterious road in California (SF Gate). A crucifix-shaped swimming pool crumbles in the desert sun. Alongside it, five decrepit concrete baths once filled with the promise of cleansing sins. Warm mineral water, tapped from what was said to be a holy underground river, drew desperate salvation searchers to this remote California wasteland. Today, part of the pool sinks into the banks of the ancient lakebed upon which this strange settlement was built.
  • DOT provides $29.4M to repair California roads damaged by floods (Transport Dive). The Federal Highway Administration is providing $29.4 million in emergency funding to repair California highways, roads, bridges and other infrastructure damaged in flooding in December and January, the agency announced Tuesday. The money is immediately available for use by the California Department of Transportation and four federal land management agencies following severe storm damage that affected as many as 40 of the state’s 58 counties. At least 22 people died as a result of the storms, The Los Angeles Times reported.
  • Hwy 70 through Feather River Canyon remains closed indefinitely; new slides occurring (Plumas News). Caltrans District 2 released the latest information on Highway 70 through the Feather River Canyon, this morning, Jan. 26. There continues to be new slide activity, including an event that came down on equipment operating in the area. Luckily, the operator was not injured in the incident. Following is the update: Highway 70 remains closed to through traffic between Jarbo Gap (west of Pulga) and the Greenville Wye (junction with State Route 89) due to continuing slide activity.
  • Caltrans announces new repair projects on Highway 101 near Willits (The Ukiah Daily Journal). The California Transportation Commission recently allocated more than $988 million to repair and improve transportation infrastructure throughout the state, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) reported. “The CTC’s investments will help rebuild California’s transportation infrastructure while increasing transit and active transportation options,” Caltrans Director Tony Tavares was quoted as noting in a press release, which also pointed out that the “funding (being allocated) includes more than $450 million from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, and more than $250 million from Senate Bill (SB) 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. Local projects [near Ukiah/Willits] recently approved include:
  • California Transportation Commission approves millions in Northern California transportation projects (Lake County News). The California Transportation Commission, or CTC, has allocated over $988 million to repair and improve transportation infrastructure throughout the state. This funding includes more than $450 million from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, or IIJA, and more than $250 million from Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. “The CTC’s investments will help rebuild California’s transportation infrastructure while increasing transit and active transportation options. These projects reflect the CTC and Caltrans’ commitment to safety and meeting future challenges,” said Caltrans Director Tony Tavares. Projects the CTC approved [in Lake County] include:

  • Caltrans puts another $3.3M toward Felton road project (Press Banner). Caltrans earmarked another $3.3 million so it can proceed with final designs and right-of-way components for the Highway 9 Felton Safety Improvements Project, the Santa Cruz Regional Transportation Commission announced Monday. The money is coming from the State Highway Operation and Protection Program, the State Highway System’s “fix-it-first” program that funds road maintenance, emergency repairs, safety improvements and some highway operational improvements. The project is set to construct pedestrian and bicycle facilities to improve safety on Highway 9 near Felton from Kirby Street to north of Fall Creek Drive—measures local residents say are desperately needed given the immense traffic on the route.
  • Santa Barbara County Begins Long Recovery from Impacts of Recent Storms (Noozhawk). While the rain appears to have moved out Santa Barbara County, with little chance of expected through at least the next week, damages and impacts throughout the South Coast and the rest of the county have been left in the wake of the back-to-back storms. With road closures due to damaged roads, filled debris basins, damage to homes, and more, recovery from the severe storms will likely take some time.
  • Agencies form partnership to solve congestion, flooding on Highway 37 (CBS San Francisco). Possible progress has been made toward improving one of the Bay Area’s most problematic stretches of road, state Highway 37 between Solano and Marin counties. The roadway has been plagued with flooding and congestion for years. One thing everyone agrees on, from stakeholders to commuters who regularly find themselves at a dead standstill for up to two hours, is that the highway needs improvement. State and local transportation agencies on Wednesday announced a partnership agreement to implement more pressing improvements to the highway while a longer-term solution to the problem is hammered out.
  • Caltrans discusses South Avenue roundabout (Red Bluff Daily News). Caltrans came to the Tehama County Board of Supervisors Tuesday to talk about the roundabout on South Avenue and State Route 99, or as they are calling it, the South Avenue safety project. Caltrans anticipates starting hard construction activities in the spring of 2024. Project Manager Phil Baker said Caltrans could start some construction activity towards the latter part of the 2023 construction season. Still, it is more likely once a contractor is on board, all the paperwork is complete and all the approval is given, it will be near the end of the construction season. As weather allows, Baker expects to see a project of this nature during the 2024 construction season and completed by the end of 2024.
  • Caltrans to rebuild Saratoga Creek Bridge, citing structural concerns (Mercury News). Those traveling along Highway 9 from Saratoga to Santa Cruz might want to rethink their route. Caltrans is building a new Saratoga Creek bridge after an investigation revealed seismic and structural concerns. The bridge will be closed during construction, which is expected to start in March. The bridge is located on Highway 9 at mile marker 4.9, between Saratoga in Santa Clara County and Felton in Santa Cruz County. The construction project will replace the existing bridge, though the new bridge will retain the outer, visible portion of the stone bridge.
  • Contra Costa transportation projects receive lion’s share of federal infrastructure funding (Local News Matters). Contra Costa County is California’s biggest winner with nearly $29 million of the $133 million in grant money recently awarded from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) Grant Program. According to a joint statement from U.S. Senators Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein, the money will support 50 initiatives across the state to improve roadway safety. SS4A is a new program created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, for which Padilla and Feinstein voted in 2021.
  • 5-miles of Sacramento freeway formerly known as I-80 now has several designations (Fox 40). Is it Capitol City Freeway or is it Highway 50? Maybe it’s Business 80? Or perhaps Highway 99 or Interstate 305? The answer is yes to all of the above, but there are several reasons  why. Spanning 5.3 miles from the western edge of West Sacramento straight east across the Sacramento River and continuing to the 24th Street overpass, this main vehicular artery has several official names and it has a complicated, but interesting history.
  • South Bay history: The 91 freeway never made it quite as far west as originally planned (MSN). The first short freeways in the Los Angeles area, the Ramona Freeway east of downtown where the 10 freeway runs now, and the Arroyo Seco Parkway running south from Pasadena, were hugely successful experiments that were built beginning in the 1930s. Their popularity fueled much enthusiasm among civic planners, who proceeded to propose a massive system of 1,500 miles of freeways in the L.A. metro area. Only a third of them were ever built. The 91 freeway was among them.
  • CA 64 – The Valley’s Right of Way to the Beach (CSUN University Library). With the passage of the 1947 Collier-Burns Highway Act, the completion of a few early L.A. freeways (the Arroyo Seco Parkway, Ramona Boulevard, and the Cahuenga Pass), and the growing dependence on cars, freeways became massive construction projects in the 1950s and began transforming the L.A. landscape. The Albert Zoraster Collection(link is external) contains correspondence, articles, editorials, reports, maps, telegrams, presentations, and aerial photographs regarding the proposed CA-64 Malibu-Whitnall Freeway from the 1950s to the 1970s. The time period coincides with rapid development and urbanization in the San Fernando Valley, with multi-story buildings and major stores springing up in several neighborhoods. Albert Zoraster grew up in Topanga and resided in San Fernando from the 1920s to the 1970s. He dedicated most of his community service and long civic career to the areas of transportation and municipal services, participating in such committees and groups as the Mayor’s Valley Transportation Committee, the Valley-Wide Committee on Streets and Highways, the Van Nuys Chamber of Commerce, and the Van Nuys Rotary Club.
  • The Arcata Freeway: How it Split the Community More Than Just Geographically (Barnum History Contest, 1991). The Arcata City Council has often been subject to controversy over the years for taking stands on various national issues such as opposing the re-instatement of the military draft in 1979 and declaring Arcata a nuclear-free zone in 1986. The council’s actions on local issues have also come under scrutiny by the voters. For example, in the mid1970s questions were raised about the method of appointing a new council member without having interviewed the eight candidates. In 1978 a Times-Standard editorial accused the council of violating the Brown Act by not notifying the public of meetings. In 1989, Ruben Botello, an advocate for the homeless, threatened a recall effort when the council closed the local homeless shelter.
  • Woodland applies for grant to fund freeway connector project (Woodland The Daily Democrat). After over 20 years of planning and property acquisitions, Woodland is one step closer to the construction of freeway connectors between Interstate 5 and state Route 113.  “During the early 2000s, a project ot build freeway-to-freeway connectors between Interstate 5 and state Route 113 in Woodland enjoyed significant regional support,” the city staff report explained. “By the end of the early 2000s, the city achieved project plans that were 95% complete and completed 87% of the property acquisition.”
  • Why there is always traffic between Vacaville and Fairfield (SF Gate). There’s often a gridlock on the highway when driving Interstate 80 through Solano County. Beginning in Fairfield and bleeding into Vacaville, the highway’s five eastbound lanes slow down to a sluggish pace as the route on Google Maps turns to red. The reason this highway is plagued by traffic, which has become a habitual nuisance, is multifaceted. There are multiple merges with other roadways, and the highway was built for a Bay Area with a vastly different population from what we have today. To address this transportation obstacle, a multiagency effort is underway to add an express lane on each side.
  • Contra Costa County to Get $30 Million in Federal Funding to Make Roads Safer (NBC Bay Area). Contra Costa County is set to receive nearly $30 million in federal funding to make roads safer for pedestrians. A good portion of the money will go towards improving a problematic corridor in Antioch where a car collision recently took the life of a 12-year-old walking home from school. The memorial is still up along Sycamore Drive and Manzanita Way. It’s where three kids were hit last year after a speeding car lost control and hit a second car – sending it careening into the three kids.
  • Highway 37 pact unites agencies on widening, elevation projects (Marin I-J). A collective of state agencies has forged a new agreement that proponents say will commit them to addressing grueling congestion on Highway 37 while expediting planning for a proposed rebuild of the commuter corridor threatened by sea-level rise. Six transportation and environmental entities have agreed to begin by widening the highway along a 10-mile traffic bottleneck. At the same time, the coalition agreed to begin initial work to plan for a proposed elevated highway. “This agreement is a big step to getting this congestion relief project underway while ensuring some of the most critically impactful projects are addressed sooner rather than later,” said state Sen. Mike McGuire, a Democrat from Geyserville.
  • Highway 37 revisited by new partnership (Vallejo Times-Herald). State and local agencies announced a partnership on Wednesday to create a more climate-resilient Highway 37, looking to eventually address sea-level rise and protect marshland habitat and reduce transportation inequities. The partnership agreement comes between the California State Transportation Agency, the California Natural Resources Agency, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the California Department of Transportation District 4, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. “This important partnership fulfills the urgent need to fortify Highway 37 to meet the demands of today while preparing for the long-term challenges of tomorrow with a focus on safety, equity, climate action and economic prosperity,” said California Transportation Secretary Toks Omishakin. “I thank all our partners for coming together on solutions that will help this vital corridor, the communities it connects and its surrounding ecosystems thrive for generations to come.”
  • Oakland, Caltrans receives funds to study removing Interstate 980 in downtown (CBS San Francisco).  Interstate 980 in Oakland may come down. The city of Oakland and Caltrans received $680,000 in federal money to study ways to reconnect areas divided by I-980, state transportation officials and a legislator said  Wednesday. Highway 980 cuts off poor communities in West Oakland from downtown, officials say, reducing economic opportunities for the people living in West Oakland. City officials have recently talked about demolishing the freeway, which was completed in 1985.
  • Transportation projects across Sonoma County receive $67 million in funding (Press Democrat). Nearly 30 road and transportation projects across Sonoma County are receiving funding that adds up to more than $60 million. The Sonoma County Transportation Authority has announced it will distribute about $67 million to 29 projects in various stages of execution. They range from sidewalk and crosswalk improvements to trail and bus programs. “Local governments often have transportation projects ready to go that will directly benefit their residents but are lacking the funds to get started,” Lynda Hopkins, the SCTA vice chair and Sonoma County supervisor said in the Feb. 21 news release announcing the funds. “SCTA has leveraged several major grants and funding sources that communities often have difficulty accessing on their own to get these improvements completed.” Sonoma County projects which got funding
  • Big Sur residents express concerns over Highway 1 closures, Caltrans responds (90.3 KAZU). Many Big Sur residents are frustrated. Eleven miles of Highway 1 remains closed as Caltrans continues cleanup from the storms in January. The closures have disrupted the lives of many Big Sur locals, causing issues with getting to work, taking kids to school, and receiving services like trash pickup. Some Big Sur residents say they’re frustrated with Caltrans and feel the agency should be doing more to open roads. Kevin Drabinski is the spokesperson for Caltrans District 5 and recently spoke with KAZU’s Jonathan Linden. Drabinski says Highway 1 at Paul’s Slide is indefinitely closed.

Gribblenation Blog (Tom Fearer)

  • The last covered bridges of the California State Highway System (California State Route 96). California has numerous covered bridges which once served the highways and roads of the State. In modern times most of the existing covered bridges in California have been converted to pedestrian use and a state of preservation. The California State Highway System had two covered bridge holdouts which were active on California State Route 96 in Siskiyou County until 1950. This blog examines the history of the Dillon Creek and Clear Creek Covered Bridges which were the last two structures of their kind on a California State Highway System. Pictured above as the blog cover is the Dillon Creek Covered Bridge as it was prior to being demolished during 1950.
  • Old Stage Road in Tulare County and Kern County. Old Stage Road is an approximately 30-mile rural highway comprised of Tulare County Mountain Road 1, Kern County Mountain Road 447 and Tulare County Mountain Road 109. Old Stage originates at Jack Ranch Road near Posey and ends at the outskirts of Porterville at Deer Creek. Old Stage Road notably is comprised of two 19th Century stage routes. From White Mountain Road northwest to Fountain Springs, Old Stage Road overlays Thomas Baker’s 1860s era stage road to Linn Valley (now Glennville) and the Kern River Gold Rush Claims. From Fountain Springs to Deer Creek, Old Stage Road is comprised of the 1853 Stockton-Los Angeles Road.
  • The alignment history of California State Route 49 in Downieville. California State Route 49 is aligned through the Sierra County seat of Downieville via Main Street and Commercial Street over Downie River via the 1938 Jersey Bridge. The 1938 Jersey Bridge and Commercial Street comprise the only one-lane component of California State Route 49. When California State Route 49 was commissioned during 1934 it was aligned over the original Jersey Bridge which is famous for being the only known site of the hanging of a woman in the history of California. California State Route 49 was shifted to a new alignment downstream on the Downie River near the confluence of the North Fork River during 1936 via a concrete bridge. The new bridge over the Downie River was destroyed in a flood during December 1937. The floods of 1937 shifted the alignment of the California State Route 49 back to Commercial Street and a new iteration of the Jersey Bridge constructed during 1938.
  • Former California State Route 250. California State Route 250 is a former State Highway located near the city of Anaheim. California State Route 250 was aligned from Interstate 5 near the Orange County Hospital via then Placentia Avenue (now State College Boulevard) to California State Route 91. California State Route 250 was deleted by the State Legislature during 1981 following the completion of the California State Route 57 freeway between Interstate 5 and California State Route 91.
  • Round Mountain Road. Round Mountain Road is an approximately 19-mile highway located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains northeast of Bakersfield. Round Mountain Road begins at China Grade Loop at the Kern River near the site of Gordon’s Ferry and terminates at Granite Road. The Round Mountain Road corridor incorporates parts of the 1850s-era stage route known as the Stockton-Los Angeles Road in the form of Gordon‘s Ferry and Posey Station. Modern Round Mountain Road emerged following the discovery of the Kern River Oil Field during 1899 and the Round Mountain Oil Field during 1927.

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