🛣 Headlines About California Highways – August 2023

Two-thirds of the year is now past. This has been an … interesting August. We’ve had intense heat, and surprisingly, a tropical storm that has inundated our low-lying deserts and flooded roads. In the northern part of the state, we’ve had some intense brush fires. The impact of these should be showing up in future emergency road repair requests. Hopefully, everyone has been safe through all of this.

Work is continuing on the highway pages. I’ve gone through the June and July headlines; after this post is up, I’ll do the August headlines. I’ve also started working through the June and August CTC minutes. Also still to go is the review of the actions of the legislature, and the review of the posts since the last update on AARoads. Hopefully, I’ll have something to post by mid-September. I’m also working on writing the first few episodes of the next season of the podcast, so we can start recording them.

Roadtrips in July include a trip up and back to Davis, and a trip out to Las Vegas and back. Don’t care about the gambling. However, if you want to know some great restaurants in the area (off-strip), just ask.

Well, enough chit-chat. Here are the headlines that I found about California’s highways for August:


[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 logoThe podcast is currently on a break between Season 1 and Season 2. Back episodes are available at the Podcast’s forever home, as well as on its Spotify for Podcasters home. The Spotify (nee Anchor.FM) link also has links to the podcast’s page on most major podcasting services.

Highway Headlines

  • Why the lights on freeway onramp can’t end traffic jams (Los Angeles Times). It’s hard to enter a highway in Los Angeles County without encountering a stoplight at the end of the entrance ramp — a pause that’s supposed to ease the crush of rush-hour traffic. But like many Angelenos, West Valley driver Liza Olson wonders what, exactly, those lights are accomplishing. “Have you ever sat at a freeway metering light that’s red while hardly any cars zip by? Have you ever driven through a freeway metering light that’s green only to join gridlock? What gives?” Olson asked in a recent email.
  • Work on Avenue J interchange begins (Antelope Valley Press). Crews will start work Monday to expand the Avenue J interchange at the Antelope Valley Freeway/State Route 14. The $28.8 million project includes widening the existing northbound on- and off-ramps. There will also be four new retaining walls and new on- and off-ramps on the south side of Avenue J. The project will be funded with Measure R funds by the city of Lancaster, Caltrans and the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Lancaster received $65 million in Meas­ure R funds about 11 years ago to make major upgrades to the highway interchanges at avenues G, J, K and L and Columbia Way (Avenue M) over the next four years to improve traffic flow and safety.
  • The cost of convenience (BenitoLink). San Benito County is changing. And while it might feel like it’s sudden to some residents as they watch construction machinery and safety rails along Hwy 156 between Hollister and San Juan Bautista taking over agricultural land, it’s been over 20 years in the making. Two other transportation projects moving forward are the Hwy 25 widening, between San Felipe Road and the county line, which will eventually go to the Hwy 101/25 intersection and the new trade corridor, which is connecting Hwy 152 to Hwy 25 somewhere in the area of Shore Rd.
  • Work at Paul’s Slide on Highway 1 paused as crews assess recent slide activity (KSBY). Debris removal work at Paul’s Slide on Highway 1 has been paused as crews assess recent movement of the hillside, Caltrans announced Wednesday. Geological engineering (“Geotech”) crews studying measurements of recent slide activity will determine the specific next steps for repair efforts, which have prioritized — and will continue to prioritize — the safety of crew members who have been working “almost nonstop” since March to remove slide material and stabilize the hillside, according to Caltrans.
  • Recent slide activity along Hwy 1 in Big Sur could further delay reopening (KSBY). Recent slide activity along the Big Sur Coastal Highway could further delay reopening. Adam Oates, who is visiting the Central Coast from Bakersfield, originally planned to drive north with his family all the way to Monterey. But he says the road closure along the Big Sur Highway drastically reduced the distance of their trip. “Uh it cut it in half. It literally cut the distance in half,” said Oates. Though disappointed the trip would be cut short — his family still decided to visit the areas that are open. “It is what it is,” said Oates.
  • Caltrans adding ‘safety and beautification’ improvements along Highway 99 (Fox 40 Sacramento). If you’re driving along Highway 99 in South Sacramento, you may look out your windshield and notice some aesthetically pleasing visuals on your journey. Those visuals are courtesy of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), which has begun implementing “safety and beautification” improvements to Highway 99. “Working with community groups, several ‘river-themed’ additions have been added to this 9-mile stretch of the highway,” the department said in a social media post. The accompanying image shows the bright blue river covering the wall of the underpass on Broadway and Florin Road. Another image shows a light brown wall with a black design that mimics the appearance of trees on the horizon.

  • $$ Caltrans San Jacinto Highway 74 project completed; Hemet SR 74 corridor project coming (Valley News). The California Department of Transportation announced its newest project in Hemet on the Highway 74 corridor may soon begin, but no actual start day has yet to be made.In the meantime, Caltrans thanked local motorists for their patience in waiting for work on State Route 79 (Florida Ave.) in San Jacinto to be completed. That project is now completed, making that portion of the highway much safer.With completion of the $4 million San Jacinto project, Caltrans said this week, “Caltrans thanks everyone for their patience during the construction of this very important safety project. Watch for workers as they continue to clean up the project zone.”Still to come for motorists in the Hemet and San Jacinto Valley in the next 2 years is the $51.6 million corridor improvement …
  • Caltrans set to deploy state-of-the-art electronic message signs (South Tahoe Now). Caltrans is unveiling more than two dozen state-of-the-art full-color overhead highway message boards along the US50 corridor in El Dorado and Sacramento counties, I5 in Sacramento County and State Highways 70 and 99 in Butte County. Caltrans District 3 engineers this month are conducting final tests on the 28 new color-changeable message signs. These signs are a first in the state at a cost of about $2.5 million. Other regions have installed these signs as a pilot project. Before going live in mid-September, local motorists are spotting a message reading “CMS Test in Prog(ress); Ends 09/01/2023” on these new boards. Engineers are testing the performance of these signs to ensure their long-term reliability before turning on the switch.‌
  • Highway 4 Wagon Trail Work Back Underway (My Mother Lode). After a delay in getting work started up after the wet winter season, construction is back underway on the Highway 4 Wagon Trail Realignment Project. Beginning this week, crews resumed overhauling Highway 4 between Pool Station Road and Appaloosa Road. Signs are in place reducing the speed limit in the construction zone to 45  mph, and travelers are asked to use extra caution. When asked for an explanation for the construction delays, officials overseeing the project relay, “Additional environmental work had to be completed before construction could be restarted after the winter.”
  • Kern River Valley Road Update (Kern Valley Sun). State Routes 178 Kern Canyon section and Route 155 Wofford Heights to Porterville received major storm damage this past winter season and are still under major repairs. Route 155 from Alta Sierra east to Porterville is still under “local residents only” restrictions in the damaged areas. Christian Lukens, a CalTrans public information officer covering Kern and Tulare counties, has released an update on the repairs, restrictions and timeframe for Route 155 repairs to be conducted. There are three major repair steps taking place this month through the end of September, leaving Alta Sierra residents open to one-way travel.
  • Yolo I-80 Pavement Rehab Project (Caltrans). In and near West Sacramento, from 1.4 miles east of Mace Boulevard to Sacramento River Bridge; also on Route 50, from Route 80 to Jefferson Boulevard Overcrossing (PM 0.0/2.5). Rehabilitate roadway by placing Continuous Reinforced Concrete Pavement (CRCP) overlay, rehabilitate ramps, upgrade existing barriers and guardrail to concrete barrier, rehabilitate bridge decks, bridge median widening at two locations, upgrade bridge railings, replace overhead sign structures, and install fiber optic lines. This project will improve safety and ride quality.
  • Caltrans to install new roundabout configuration at highways 25/156 (SanBenito.Com). During the next stage of construction of the roundabout project project at State Route 25 and Highway 156, crews will implement a new, temporary traffic configuration that will operate similar to a one-lane roundabout, Caltrans said in a press release. The configuration will remain in place through the end of the project’s construction in early 2024. During construction, as vehicles approach, they will be required to slow down and yield to traffic already in the roundabout before entering, Caltrans said. There will be no signalized traffic lights in place, and travelers will see new yield signage and other alerts to advise of the upcoming intersection change. One week before the one-lane roundabout is implemented, Caltrans will place electronic message signs to alert motorists of the upcoming configuration change.
  • Soscol Junction taking shape at Napa Valley entrance (Napa Valley Register). Here’s a real road show — Highway 29 motorists in recent weeks have seen workers building a key Soscol Junction bridge at the entrance to the world-famous Napa Valley. This bridge will carry Highway 29 traffic over Highway 221, eliminating a traffic signal. Two giant roundabouts are being created below the bridge to regulate traffic getting on and off Highway 29 — the roundabouts are not on Highway 29 itself. Napa County’s biggest transportation project in a decade is rapidly taking shape before a captive audience of commuters and travelers. Caltrans officials say motorists could be driving on a finished, $54 million Soscol Junction within a year.
  • ‘The Snake’ on Mulholland Highway, once infamous, may reopen (KNX News 97.1). The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will consider a plan Tuesday to reopen a portion of Mulholland Highway near unincorporated Agoura that was once popular with motorcyclists and street racers. “The Snake” earned its nickname for its twisting, mountainous curves. And its infamy as a real-life crash course with frequent collisions. The 2.4-mile stretch of road was closed four years ago because of damage caused by the 2018 Woolsey Fire. But residents have long been lobbying to repair and reopen the road – with new safety precautions in place.
  • Work on ‘5th lane project’ and auxiliary lane begins along I-80 in Roseville and Rocklin (Fox 40). Drivers along Interstate 80 will see construction along two miles-long stretches of the highway in Roseville and Rocklin over the next few months, as Caltrans and contractors begin  work on the so-called “5th lane project” and a new auxiliary lane. Caltrans held a groundbreaking ceremony for the two construction projects on August 1, alongside Congressman Kevin Kiley and state and local leaders. The projects are an effort to improve travel times along I-80 through that area of Placer County.
  • Placer County I-80 Auxiliary Lane and 5th Lane Project (Caltrans). In Placer County, in Roseville and Rocklin, construct eastbound I-80 auxiliary lane between SR 65 and Rocklin Road including a two-lane off-ramp to Rocklin Road, and construct the 5th lane on westbound I-80 east of Douglas Boulevard to the west of Riverside Avenue including reconfiguring the Douglas Boulevard off-ramp from 2-lanes to 1-lane.
  • Decrease in Golden Gate Bridge suicide jumps a likely result of prevention barrier (Local News Matters). It appears that the new suicide prevention barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge is having a significant effect — even though it’s not completed yet. According to statistics released in July from the Bridge Rail Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group that has campaigned for a barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge since 2006, there have been five confirmed suicide jumps from the bridge this year through June, compared with 22 from all of last year. Between 2000 and 2019, the bridge averaged between 30 and 40 suicides per year. “It’s been a long hard haul, and I’m delighted that the net is going forward and that suicides have decreased,” said Bridge Rail Foundation co-founder David Hull.
  • Metro to Mitigate Increased Driving on Future Freeway Expansion Projects – Part 1 (Streetsblog Los Angeles). Today’s scintillating topic is VMT mitigation. VMT Mitigation! VMT stands for Vehicle Miles Traveled. Mitigation means making bad things less bad. VMT mitigation is a wonky, jargon-filled subject. It is potentially very impactful, but difficult to explain. Streetsblog is breaking this VMT mitigation explainer into two posts. Today’s post is focused on the past – what is VMT mitigation, how did it get here, and where grandfathering means projects not mitigating. Part 2 will focus on how VMT mitigation is likely to shape future projects.
  • Caltrans Begins $2.24 Million Virginia Creek-Benton Chipseal Project Next Week (Sierra Wave Media). Construction on the Virginia Creek-Benton Chipseal Project will begin next week on State Route 120 and U.S. 395 in Mono County. Construction crews will apply an asphalt rubber binder aggregate chipseal to the existing pavement to extend the service life of the road. Work will begin Monday, August 14, on State Route 120 E from Benton Hot Springs to U.S. 6 in Benton before moving to U.S. 395 from State Route 270 (Bodie Road) to State Route 182 later in the week. During construction, there will be one-way traffic control with a pilot car during work hours. Work is scheduled Monday through Thursday from 6:30 am to 8:00 pm and Fridays from 6:30 am to 3:00 pm. Drivers may experience 20-minute delays. The Virginia Creek-Benton Chipseal Project is scheduled for 25 working days. Work schedules are subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials, and/or construction-related issues.
  • Caltrans and SANDAG Unveil $9M San Elijo Activity Hub Park & Ride Project (Times of San Diego). Caltrans, the San Diego Association of Governments, and the Nature Collective joined local elected officials and community members Saturday to unveil the $9 million San Elijo Activity Hub Park & Ride in the city of Encinitas.The park and ride is part of the $987 million Build NCC project that includes $195 million from Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017; around $141 million in TransNet funding — the voter-approved half-cent sales tax administered by SANDAG; and $543 million in federal funds. “The new San Elijo Activity Hub Park & Ride is a valuable addition to our community. This facility will reduce congestion by promoting ridesharing and active transportation use, increase coastal access throughout the North Coast Corridor, and provide parking for hiking the San Elijo lagoon, including Annie’s Canyon,” said SANDAG Second Vice Chair and Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner.
  • Caltrans Hosting a Open House on Proposed Changes to Willits Main Street Which Include Bike Lanes (Redheaded Blackbelt). [Caltrans is] an open house to get public input on the Willits Bicycle Safety Enhancement Project in Mendocino County. Caltrans has secured funds to improve the safety of State Route (SR) 20 (Old Highway 101) from Oak Street to Manor Way in Willits. The project will implement a “road diet” by modifying the striping to add bike lanes. The concept for the project is based on the 2017 Willits Main Street Corridor Enhancement Plan and allows for future enhancements.Staff will present information on the background and purpose of the project and receive questions and comments at the meeting.The in-person meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 16, at 6 p.m. in the Little Lake Fire District Conference Room (74 E. Commercial Street) in Willits.
  • Trinidad Rancheria Invites Community to an Open House on Its Transportation Improvement Plans, Which Could Include a New Interchange Off Highway 101 (Lost Coast Outpost). The Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria (Trinidad Rancheria) is issuing this Press Release to announce that the Tribe will be hosting a Community Information Workshop for the US 101 / Trinidad Area Access Improvements Project. Community members can drop in anytime between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. to view exhibits and ask questions and the detailed schedule is below: […] The US101/Trinidad Area Access Improvements Project proposes improvements to US101 and local roads to provide safe and sustainable access to Tribal lands and the surrounding communities along Scenic Drive; to relieve projected traffic congestion associated with planned future developments in the Trinidad Area; and to reconnect tribal lands on the east and west sides of US101. The project is being led by the Trinidad Rancheria, in partnership with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).
  • Caltrans Honors Fallen Highway Workers with Memorial Signs in State Roadside Rest Areas (Caltrans D10). Caltrans District 10 today announced that it has unveiled a memorial sign at the Enoch Christofferson roadside rest area along southbound California State Route 99 near Merced to honor eight workers who have died in the line of duty and to encourage travelers to drive responsibly. Similar memorial signs are being placed throughout the state. They were designed, manufactured, and installed by Caltrans workers to recognize the 191 highway workers who have been killed on the job since 1921. Every year, Caltrans employees, family members of fallen workers, and community members throughout California gather to honor these workers and to promote safe driving campaigns. “Safety is Caltrans’ top priority,” said Caltrans Director Tony Tavares. “Lives are literally at stake every day. We hold a sacred duty to remember all the people who have lost their lives working with us, and I implore all Californians to please slow down and move over in every work zone, every time. A life may depend on it.”
  • District 5 Workers Memorial (X/Caltrans D5). Caltrans District 5 unveiled a Memorial Sign at the #Shandon Roadside Rest Area on #Hwy46 East to honor the eight workers who died in the line of duty on the Central Coast and to encourage travelers to drive responsibly.
  • District 3 Workers Memorial (X/Caltrans D3). I-80 Gold Run rest areas have new memorial signs honoring the 14 District 3 fallen highway workers who died in the line of duty & encouraging travelers to drive responsibly. All state rest area soon will have signs recognizing 191 workers killed on the job statewide since 1921.
  • District 2 WorkersMemorial (X/Caltrans D2). Today, District 2 announced the installation of memorial signs at roadside rest areas along the state highways in District 2 to honor the 15 workers who have died in the line of duty in our district.
  • Grassroots proposal calls for transforming the Marina Freeway into a massive park (Urbanize LA). Across Southern California, remnants of never-built freeways dot the landscape. The extra-wide median of the 101 in Silver Lake was once intended to connect with the Beverly Hills Freeway, while the grade-separated stretch of La Cienega Boulevard through Baldwin Hills was planned as part of the Laurel Canyon Freeway. Among the larger remnants of L.A.’s unfinished network is the Marina Freeway, which you may also know as the 90. Originally intended as the starting point of the Slauson Freeway, plans called for a roughly 50-mile route which would have stretched from Marina del Rey through Orange County. However, all that was built was a three-mile stub between Culver City and the Marina, which functions mostly as an extended on- and off-ramp for motorists heading toward the 405.
  • Major Contra Costa county road extension moves forward after eaglet flies off (East Bay TImes). “Fred” and “Wilma” are empty-nesters, and now that the golden eagles’ baby bird has flown the coop, work can begin on one of eastern Contra Costa County’s biggest local road improvements: extending Sand Creek Road from Brentwood to Antioch. The new $8.7 million roadway is expected to shave at least 10 minutes off a trip from west Brentwood to the nearest hospital, Kaiser Permanente in Antioch, and relieve traffic on heavily used Lone Tree Way to the north, near where the new Brentwood Costco is to be located. Work on the three-mile extension from Brentwood’s Old Sand Creek Road to Antioch’s Deer Valley Road, which was set to begin in late March, had to be delayed for months because of the nearby nest of the golden eagles, which are protected by federal, state and regional laws and policies.
  • $$ Paso Robles, Caltrans to build Highway 46 overpass bridge (San Luis Obispo Tribune). Paso Robles is seeking community feedback on plans to build a bridge that goes over Highway 46 East and connects Union Road/Paso Robles Boulevard. The joint project between the city and Caltrans District 5 aims to improve the efficiency and safety of Highway 46 at Union Road for cars, buses, pedestrians and cyclists, according to a project description from Caltrans. At a Thursday meeting in Paso Robles City Hall, the public is invited to comment on the results of a preliminary assessment that indicates no substantial adverse environmental impacts are anticipated from the infrastructure project.
  • $$ SLO County to get Highway 101 roundabout, bike lanes (San Luis Obispo Tribune). Nearly $7 million in state funding is headed to San Luis Obispo County for improvements for a Highway 101 interchange, according to Caltrans. The California Transportation Commission will allocate $6.8 million to the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments to improve the interchange at Highway 101 and Avila Beach Drive, Caltrans said in a news release on Thursday. Those improvements include “a roundabout, park-and-ride facility, sidewalk, bike lanes and a transit stop,” the release said.
  • Marin highway projects get $195M state infusion (Marin I-J). The state has allotted $195 million to raise a flood-prone bridge on Highway 37 in Novato and redesign a Highway 101 overpass in Corte Madera. The California Transportation Commission approved the allocation, funded by the $1 trillion federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, at its meeting on Thursday. The larger chunk of funding, $155 million, is for the project to elevate the Novato Creek Bridge, where flooding in recent years has led to Highway 37 closures and headaches for tens of thousands of commuters. Caltrans plans to raise the bridge along with its eastern and western approaches by 30 feet over the creek. Caltrans estimates the project will last from the summer of 2027 to the summer of 2029.
  • California’s first ‘turbo roundabout’ opens on the Central Coast (KSBW). On Thursday, Caltrans opened Highway 25’s roundabout to traffic, which is the first turbo roundabout to operate in California. The roundabout is located at the intersection of Highway 156 and Highway 25. According to Caltrans, signalized intersections turned into roundabouts reduce fatal and injury crashes by 78 percent. In addition, Caltrans said intersections can improve traffic flow, reduce delays and cut vehicle emissions. But commuters traveling out or into San Benito County said they are still getting used to the traffic since the construction began.
  • Caltrans unveils memorials to honor employees killed on duty (Fox 40). Caltrans District 3 and District 10 each unveiled memorials to honor transportation workers who were killed on duty and to bring greater awareness to the serious dangers of distracted driving. “Lives are literally at stake every day,” Caltrans Director Tony Tavares said in a statement. “We hold a sacred duty to remember all the people who have lost their lives working with us, and I implore all Californians to please slow down and move over in every work zone, every time.”
  • Caltrans to Begin $7 Million Guardrail Improvement Project on State Route 99 from Madera County Line to Childs Avenue in Merced County (Gold Rush Cam). The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is preparing to begin a project that will improve traffic safety on State Route 99 (SR-99) with the installation caltrans logoof new guardrails between the Madera County line and Childs Avenue exit near the communities of Athlone and Lingard in Merced County. Work will include the resurfacing of existing emergency passageways, and the installation of a Double Thrie Beam Barrier (DTBB) and High-Tension Cable Barrier (HTCB) to replace the existing Metal Beam Guardrails (MBGR). The work is necessary to help to reduce the severity of roadway departure collisions and to comply with current safety standards.
  • Roundabout project in the works to reduce delays off Hwy 101 at Avila Beach Dr. (KSBY). Construction on a new roundabout off Highway 101 and Avila Beach Drive could begin early next year. According to the San Luis Obispo County Public Works Department, the plan aims to make things more efficient for drivers while reducing delays. “As bicyclists we like roundabouts, because it slows everyone down and everyone has to pay attention,” Donna Smith, a bicyclist, said.
  • $$Highway 101 Camp Roberts rest stop opens after renovation (San Luis Obispo Tribune). The Camp Roberts rest stop on Highway 101 has reopened after an “extensive renovation” that took more than two years to complete, according to Caltrans. Located off southbound Highway 101 in northern San Luis Obispo County, the Camp Roberts Safety Roadside Rest Area officially opened to the public at 10 a.m. Tuesday, the state road agency said in a news release. The Camp Roberts rest area now features a completely new wastewater treatment system along with major electrical system upgrades, Caltrans said in the release. An electric vehicle charge station will remain offline until a new cell signal power module is delivered and installed, the release said. Upgrades have been made to the solar-powered EV charging station, including the addition of a second Level 2 charger, the release said. “Landscaping renovations included downsizing lawn areas and upgrades to the smart irrigation system to support water conservation,” Caltrans said. The Camp Roberts rest area on Highway 101. is seen before renovations. Picnic tables have been outfitted with new shade shelters, the release said. Caltrans replaced deteriorating concrete septic tanks with larger fiberglass tanks and added equalization tanks to provide a buffer during peak use, along with the addition of media filters, new piping and expanded leach field capacity, the release said. The project also added a new automated monitoring system that will allow maintenance crews to track water, wastewater and electrical system operations more efficiently, the release said, ensuring that the rest area can stay open more consistently.
  • How Future Metro Freeway Expansion could Mitigate Increased Driving – Part 2 (Streetsblog Los Angeles). This post is part 2 of a short series about the mitigation of VMT – Vehicle Miles Traveled – induced by Metro highway projects. In part 1, SBLA noted that 2013 legislation led to the 2020 Caltrans requirement that new freeway expansion required mitigation. When Metro projects induce more driving, Metro must mitigate by adding features that reduce driving. Since 2020, Metro has continued unmitigated freeway expansion (via grandfathered projects and loopholes), but now the agency anticipates it may be required to do mitigation on planned future widenings of the 5, 10, 60, 91, 105, 110, 138, 405, 605, and 710 Freeways. Today, part 2 attempts to read the signs and predict the future of Metro VMT mitigation.
  • Caltrans scraps plan to replace aging Bohemian Highway Bridge in Monte Rio leaving Sonoma County officials scrambling (Press Democrat). Caltrans has abruptly scrapped plans to replace the Bohemian Highway Bridge in Monte Rio, leaving Sonoma County officials scrambling to determine how to upgrade the 89-year-old span across the Russian River. Caltrans notified the county that skyrocketing costs, now estimated at $88 million, made it infeasible for the agency to fund a full bridge replacement. The cost includes utility relocation and environmental work, county officials said. Instead, Caltrans is offering about $25 million in state and federal funding to retrofit the iconic green bridge and “is committed to working with the county to help identify other potential funding sources.” But there appears to have been a significant communication gap in the process that led to the decision, as well as uncertainty about how local and state agencies could have such drastically differing expectations for the project cost.
  • Gas tax funds fixed California state roads and transit, ending ‘high risk’ label (Daily News). While Southern California drivers may not have noticed due to the plethora of potholes created by excessive rainfall, the state’s roads are no longer sounding alarm bells. That’s because for the first time in 16 years, the state’s highways, freeways and transit systems are off the “high-risk list.” On Thursday, the California State Auditor removed the designation, attributing the passing grade to progress in repaving freeways, adding on-ramp and off-ramp meters, fixing bridges and unclogging culverts that results in better drainage. “The auditor’s findings are a testament to the substantial progress Caltrans, the California Transportation Commission and our partners have made as we work together to improve and rebuild our state’s critical transportation infrastructure,” said California Transportation Secretary Toks Omishakin in a prepared statement.
  • Bill to Raise Bay Area Bridge Tolls to Help Transit Put on Hold Amid Local Opposition (KQED). Update, Monday, Aug. 21: State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) announced early Monday he’s “pausing” SB 532, a proposal to impose a $1.50 bridge toll increase to support Bay Area transit agencies facing a fiscal crisis because of pandemic-related ridership losses. The bill, which would have required a two-thirds majority to pass both houses of the state Legislature, caused a split in the Bay Area’s Assembly and Senate delegations. Seven members joined Wiener as co-authors while half a dozen lawmakers from the region said they opposed the toll increase. “We’ve been trying to build more consensus within our Bay Area legislative delegation, and it became apparent last week that we did not have enough time to do the consensus building that we needed to do for this bill to be able to pass before the end of session,” Wiener told KQED in an interview Monday.
  • I-15 to widen temporarily for California, Nevada travelers starting August 27 (KSNV 3). Some short-term relief is coming for travelers along the I-15 near the California/Nevada border. According to Caltrans officials, the I-15 part-time southbound travel lane is set to open for use starting Sunday, August 27. The expanded access will allow travelers to use the right shoulder past the NV/CA border every Sunday and Monday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Highway 37 gets federal funding boost to lift it above rising sea levels (Sonoma Index-Tribune). Rebuilding State Route 37 to elevate it above water in the face of rising sea levels got a welcome $155 million boost from the $1.2 trillion U.S. infrastructure Law of 2021, the California Transportation Commission announced this week. The two-mile Marin County section of the 21-mile commuter artery that runs alongside San Pablo Bay connecting Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties marks the beginning of a larger $4 billion project planned for the whole corridor.
  • Highway 37 project gets $155M boost to address rising sea levels, congestion risks (Local News Matters). EFFORTS TO IMPROVE state Highway 37, one of the Bay Area’s most problematic stretches of highway, connecting U.S. Highway 101 to Interstate Highway 80, will receive a significant boost with $155 million in funding, U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena said. The funds through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will be provided to a project, supported by state and local transportation agencies, that aims to elevate a part of the highway, the congressman said in a statement on Aug. 23. “State Route 37 is an essential thoroughfare that faces significant risk from rising sea levels, threatening the commute for the millions who rely on it every year,” Thompson noted. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is the most significant investment in our country’s infrastructure since President Eisenhower’s interstate system, and now the State Route 37 project is receiving a major boost from this historic law.”
  • California distributes $3 billion to rebuild and upgrade transportation infrastructure (The Bay Link Blog). Caltrans announced(link is external) the California Transportation Commission (CTC) this month allocated more than $3.1 billion for projects that will improve the state’s transportation infrastructure, making it safer, more sustainable and more reliable. The allocation includes nearly $1.8 billion in funding from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 and almost $200 million in funding from Senate Bill (SB) 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. “These state and federal investments will continue to allow Caltrans to rebuild our transportation system so that it is more climate-change resilient, reduces pollution and travel times, and improves goods movement,” said Caltrans Director Tony Tavares. “These projects will have a direct, positive impact on every Californian. Commuters, truckers, and visitors will all benefit from more reliable roadways and a safer transportation network.”
  • $$ When the Panhandle Freeway in San Francisco led to a citizen revolt (SF Chronicle). The words “Panhandle Freeway” sound nonsensical in 21st century San Francisco. In a city where citizens last year overwhelmingly voted to permanently close John F. Kennedy Drive to car traffic, who would dare suggest adding a highway through Golden Gate  Park? But for about 15 years in the 1950s and 1960s, plans for an eight-lane freeway down the center of the Panhandle were all but set, proposing to obliterate most of the Panhandle greenery, while ripping up a few hundred Golden Gate Park trees — including some redwoods — for good measure.
  • El Camino Real project could affect San Mateo properties (San Mateo Daily Journal). A Caltrans project aimed at improving El Camino Real in Burlingame and parts of San Mateo faces encroachment issues that could affect more than 50 properties in San Mateo, according to a recent Caltrans report. The El Camino Real Roadway Renewal aims to improve the safety of the roads and sidewalks that stretch for three miles from East Santa Inez Avenue in San Mateo to Millbrae Avenue north of Burlingame while maintaining the character and health of the famous eucalyptus trees. However, according to a presentation at an Aug. 21 San Mateo City Council meeting, there are encroachment issues from private properties onto Caltrans public areas on El Camino Real that will interfere with the project. That will require meeting and addressing the issue with owners.
  • Are there plans to widen the 15 Freeway through the Cajon Pass? (Press Enterprise). Q: Victorville resident Rich McGee observed that his daily commute through the Cajon Pass, which he has driven for nearly two decades, has tripled in time over the years. After Sierra Avenue, he said, northbound traffic comes to a standstill after 3 p.m. and there is heavy truck traffic until the truck lane begins at Highway 138. McGee asked if there are plans to widen the 15 Freeway in this area. He noted that Cajon Boulevard (Historic Route 66) also is jammed with traffic. A: No widening projects are planned in the Cajon Pass. California has changed directions when it comes to ways to alleviate freeway traffic.
  • Caltrans adds high-tech highway signs in effort to fix Tahoe traffic (SF Gate). Tahoe traffic horror stories are practically a rite of passage for Northern California drivers. Snow, rain and wildfires can combine with the staggering number of tourists who visit the area every year to create hellish experiences getting in and out of the Sierra Nevada getaway. Well aware of this problem, Caltrans District 3, which oversees road maintenance in Tahoe and Sacramento, is installing “state-of-the-art full-color overhead highway message boards” to better communicate road conditions and hopefully improve traffic flow and road safety. “The new changeable message signs will allow Caltrans to display reliable real-time travel and traffic safety information using high-resolution color text and images during both day- and night-time driving conditions,” wrote Caltrans District 3 Director Amarjeet S. Benipal in a news release.

Gribblenation Blog (Tom Fearer)

  • California State Route 186. California State Route 186 is a 2.128-mile State Highway located in southeastern Imperial County. California State Route 186 begins at Interstate 8 and terminates to south near the Mexican Border via Algodones Road. The current iteration of California State Route 186 was added to the State Highway System during 1972.
  • California State Route 7. The current California State Route 7 is a 7-mile State Highway located in Imperial County. California State Route 7 begins at the Mexican border at the East Calexico Port of Entry and terminates at Interstate 8. The current California State Route 7 is the third highway to use the number. The original California State Route 7 was consumed by current California State Route 107, Interstate 405, California State Route 14 (former US Route 6) and US Route 395. The second California State Route 7 was applied to the Long Beach Freeway corridor which is now Interstate 710 and California State Route 710.
  • Paper Highways: US Route 64 to Morro Bay, California. During June 1933 the California Division of Highways proposed an extension of US Route 64 from Raton, New Mexico west to Morro Bay, California. The proposed routing of US Route 64 required a lengthy multiplex of US Route 66 and generally was not met favorably with the American Association of State Highway Officials. A compromise was eventually reached during October 1933 which led to the creation of US Route 466. This blog will examine the brief history of the proposed extension of US Route 64 to Morro Bay, California and how it evolved to become US Route 466.
  • California State Route 188. California State Route 188 is an approximately 2-mile State Highway located in San Diego County. California State Route 188 follows Tecate Road from California State Route 94 south to the Tecate Port of Entry. The current California State Route 188 was added to the State Highway System during 1972.
  • California State Route 57. As presently constructed California State Route 57 is a 25.84-mile State Highway following the Orange Freeway between Interstate 210 near San Dimas to Interstate 5 at the Orange Crush Interchange near Santa Ana. California State Route 57 and the Orange Freeway has an unconstructed segment south of California State Route 22 to California State Route 1. The Orange Freeway corridor was largely adopted by the California Highway Commission during 1956 as the Brea Canyon Freeway. The Orange Freeway corridor would be assigned as California State Route 57 just prior to the 1964 State Highway Renumbering. The constructed corridor of California State Route 57 was constructed during the late 1960s through the mid-1970s. California State Route 57 was extended north of Interstate 10 to Interstate 210 during 1998. California State Route 57 north of Interstate 10 is still defined by the Federal Highway Administration as a segment of Interstate 210.
  • Fresno/Tulare County Route J40. Fresno/Tulare County Route J40 is 17.19 miles and was defined in 1974. County Route J40 begins at California State Route 99 near Selma. From California State Route 99 the routing of County Route J40 follows Mountain View Avenue, El Monte Way and Avenue 416 to California State Route 63 in Orosi.
  • The last 1956-63 era California Sign State Route Spade?. Along southbound California State Route 170 (the Hollywood Freeway Extension) approaching the Hollywood Freeway/Ventura Freeway interchange a white California State Route 134 Sign State Route Spade can be observed on guide sign. These white spades were specifically used during the 1956-63 era and have become increasingly rare. This blog is intended to serve as a brief history of the Sign State Route Spade. We also ask you as the reader, is this last 1956-63 era Sign State Route Spade or do you know of others?
  • Interstate 710. Interstate 710 is an approximately 19.66-mile-long auxiliary Interstate which exists in Los Angeles County. Interstate 710 as presently defined by the Federal Highway Administration begins at Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach and extends north to Interstate 10 in Monterey Park. Interstate 710 is signed on Terminal Island and north of Interstate 10 to Valley Boulevard along highway segments which are not officially part of the Interstate Highway System. Interstate 710 is tied heavily to the history of the overall Long Beach Freeway corridor. The Long Beach Freeway corridor was part of the original California State Route 15 and second California State Route 7.

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