Welcome to 2024, and your first headline post of the year. For those unfamiliar, this post generally contains headlines about California Highways that I’ve seen over the last month. It also serves as fodder for the updates to my California Highways site, so there are also other pages and things I’ve seen that I wanted to remember for the site updates. Lastly, the post also includes some things that I think would be of peripheral interest to my
highway-obsessed highway-interested readers.
The end of 2023 saw the posting of the next batch of website updates. This meant that, on the update front, things have been quiet as they are normally built starting with the headline post. With this posting, I’ll start work on the next round of updates. The end of 2023 also saw my posting of my plan for theatre reviews/writeups going forward; indeed, we’ve already seen three shows in January (Kate, POTUS, and Sukkot) and shows continue every weekend until late February, when there is a little break. Of course, that may change if something interesting comes across the transom.
Also on the horizon, posting-wise, will be my analysis of the Spring 2024 Sample Ballot. Having read through the Senate candidate statements, all I can say is that “Hoo-boy, this is going to be a doozy”. As a preview, the Voter Information Guide included a statement (and a disclaimer from the state) from an clear and unabashed racist. Welcome to California Primary season, where the kooks and nuts are on the ballot, in addition to being on the roads. But I will get to do my exploration of the Schiff vs Porter vs Lee. Given the offices I’ve already started to get advertising for, I expect this to be a multi-part post, although there is only one state proposition.
The podcast continues apace. We’ve recorded and released a few episodes, and will be recording another one next Monday. The scripts for the last two episodes in Season 2 are done (they are on Route 2). A short break, and then I’ll start researching and writing Season 3, covering Route 3 through Route 7. The most recent episode also prompted a friend at Caltrans to offer to do an interview to talk about Fastrak and tolling in California. We’ll likely do that as a bonus episode. As I write this, the most recent episode (according to Spotify, which doesn’t count direct downloads from cahighways/caroutebyroute) had 36 listens; the most popular season 2 episode (2.02, Route 1 in LA County) had 77 downloads, and the most popular episode overall ((1.01, the start of the chronology) had 154. Please tell your friends about the podcast, “like”, “♥”, or “favorite” it, and give it a rating in your favorite podcatcher. Yes, the sound quality of the episodes does get better — we were learning. As always, you can keep up with the show at the podcast’s forever home at https://www.caroutebyroute.org , the show’s page on Spotify for Podcasters, or you can subscribe through your favorite podcatching app or via the RSS feeds (CARxR, Spotify for Podcasters) . The following episodes have been posted this month:
- CA RxR 2.05: Route 1: Monterey, Santa Cruz, and the Santa Cruz Coastline. Episode 2.05 of California Highways: Route by Route, continues our exploration of Route 1 by exploring everything about the segment of Route 1 from Carmel in Monterey County to just N of the Tom Lantos Tunnels near Montara (in San Mateo Couny). This includes communities such as Carmel, Monterey, Seaside, Watsonville, Castroville, Aptos, Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz Coastline, Half Moon Bay, and Montara. As always, we go over the history of this segment of the route, the history of the route through various communities , the freeway plans, discuss relinquishments, names, and some current plans. We also talk in detail about the Devil’s Slide and the Tom Lantos Tunnels, as well as projects in Santa Cruz. (Spotify Link)
- CA RxR 2.06: Route 1: Pacifica and San Francisco. Episode 2.06 of California Highways: Route by Route continues our exploration of Route 1 by exploring everything about Route 1 from Pacifica, just N of the Tom Lantos Tunnels near Montara (in San Mateo Couny) to and through San Francisco up to the Golden Gate Bridge. This includes communities such as Pacifica, Daly City, and of course, San Francisco. As always, we go over the history of this segment of the route, the history of the route through various communities , the freeway plans, discuss relinquishments, names, and some current plans (although there’s not much in the relinquishment or plans area). As part of the freeway plans in the area, we include a discussion of the freeway revolt and some broader plans for San Francisco. (Spotify Link)
- CA RxR 2.07: Route 1ish: Golden Gate Bridge. Episode 2.07 of California Highways: Route by Route continues our exploration of Route 1 by exploring an interesting gap in the route: The Golden Gate Bridge (GGB). The GGB is not part of the state highway system, and thus (from the point of view of the state) not part of either Route 1 or US 101. It is part of US 101 per AASHTO, and is run by its own district. We’ll cover what was there before the bridge, the construction of the bridge, and current projects along the bridge (such as the singing bridge retrofit, the suicide barrier, and the earthquake retrofit. We’ll also discuss how one pays tolls on the bridge. (Spotify Link)
Looking forward, episode 2.08 will continue our exploration of Route 1 moving northward from the Marin Headlands to the Redwoods.
Well, you should now be up to date. Here are the headlines that I found about California’s highways for January:
[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. See this article for more tips on bypassing paywalls. 🎧 indicates an primarily audio article. 🎥 indicates a primarily video article. ]
- Upcoming Roadwork on Area Highways (Redheaded Blackbelt). The following scheduled roadwork [in Caltrans District 1] has been verified at the time of release. Please keep in mind work is weather permitting and subject to change.
- Highway 1 Closure: How Long Can Big Sur Businesses Endure? (SF Standard). About 100 miles south of San Francisco lies one of the most beautiful places in a beautiful state. Of all of California’s scenic highways—State Route 120 through Yosemite National Park, U.S. 395 behind the spine of the High Sierra, the 405 through Sepulveda Pass with nobody else on it—perhaps nothing compares to the stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway from Carmel-by-the-Sea south to Santa Barbara. And the most beautiful section of this is Big Sur, which has been cut off from the south for the past 11 months. On Jan. 8, during a period of atmospheric rivers, an enormous movement of earth at a spot called Paul’s Slide near the town of Lucia buried a two-mile segment of the coast highway. The landslide some 40 miles south of Big Sur’s lodges and redwoods forced not only the highway’s closure but, eventually, also required workers to terrace the slope and move the roadway itself.
- ＄ A new wildlife bridge is in the works across Interstate 8 for Peninsular bighorn sheep (San Diego Union-Tribune). Over the past decade, more than two dozen Peninsular bighorn sheep have been struck and killed while trying to cross I-8 in the rocky, mountainous region where San Diego and Imperial counties meet, though for various reasons that number is likely an under count of the actual death toll. In recent years, state wildlife officials identified that 13-mile stretch of freeway where the eastbound and westbound lanes split through a steep grade as one of the state’s most problematic barriers to wildlife movement. An effort is now underway, with a key first step completed earlier this year, to build one of the state’s first wildlife bridges along that stretch of I-8. The envisioned overpass, now in the planning stages after securing grant funding, would facilitate the natural movements of the estimated 790 or so members of the federally protected Peninsular bighorn species, which live between the U.S.-Mexico border and Palm Springs in the California desert.
- ＄ ‘Turbo roundabout’ south of San Jose is second of its kind in US (Mercury News). In the coming months, drivers in San Benito County will face a traffic pattern unlike anything else in the state: a three-lane rotary shaped like a stunted ninja star. This is only the second time the new design, called a turbo roundabout, is being implemented in the U.S. But if it meets its goal of reducing accidents at a crossroads with a history of harmful crashes, drivers across the country could be seeing more of them. The intersection of highways 25 and 156 near Hollister has been notoriously dangerous — the site of more than twice as many accidents as similar intersections in the state, resulting in multiple injuries. In particular, there have been an unusual number of rear-impact and T-bone collisions there. Caltrans had previously attempted several small fixes, such as changing the timing on the traffic signals and adding rumble strips going up to the signal. But after these failed to resolve the problems, the agency opted to create a special roundabout.
- A love letter to US Route 50, America’s loneliest highway (SF Gate). The essence of lonely is embodied after peeling off Highway 50 into a dusty parking lot at Middlegate Station, a pit stop in the Nevada desert about an hour from any cities in both directions. There’s a small wooden building that appears to have been standing for at least 100 years and near the front door a wooden plaque announces the official population — 17. (Although it’s clear that the number 18 has been scratched out.) I have a feeling the bar and restaurant may be keeping an accurate tally. Stepping inside, I simultaneously step back in time and saddle up to the bar for a drink and a burger. It could be some time before I see another opportunity to stop on the lonesome highway
- California debuts ‘turbo roundabout’ to fix troubled intersection near Bay Area (SF Gate). A troubled California intersection is now the site of a new, spiral-shaped road feature called a “turbo roundabout” — the first of its kind in the state, and only the second in the country. The new turbo roundabout appeared near the city of Gilroy at the intersection of highways 25 and 156, two roadways frequented by interregional commuters, travelers and agricultural workers. Caltrans told SFGATE that the intersection has an unusually high occurrence of collisions, even when compared with similar intersections across the state. Installing a roundabout was a natural solution, Caltrans spokesperson Jim Shivers said. “Wherever we have installed a roundabout, the number of collisions drastically decreases,” he said. “And this is pretty much true for roundabouts around the country.”
- Did You Know: Navigate Your Way to CSUN’s Massive Map Collection (CSUN Today). Did you know that in addition to more than 1.5 million books, 250,000 periodicals and 60,000 photos, CSUN’s University Library also boasts a Map Collection with more than 400,000 maps? They include geologic maps, traffic maps, tourist maps, zoning maps, topographic maps and planning maps of California, Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. There are even maps of areas and territories that no longer exist. Emilie Ducourneau is the curator of the collection that includes maps dating back to the 1700s. She notes that these documents serve as a snapshot in time — showing what was happening in a particular area at the time the map was drawn. [✒ Given that CSUN is about a mile from my house, and my wife is a CSUN Alum, I really need to make an appointment and go see this collection]
- Only in the US do you need to watch a video to learn how to use a roundabout (Metro News UK). The US is about to see its second-ever ‘turbo roundabout’ just near a dangerous intersection near the city of Gilroy, San Benito County in California. Officials describe the roundabout as ‘an innovative, new facility design that will improve safety while maintaining traffic flow and efficiency at the intersection’. ‘A turbo roundabout operates similar to a regular roundabout but has additional features that reduce the potential for collisions,’ the Council of San Benito County Governments said.
- Work on Highway 99 expected to slow traffic through Lodi for months (Lodi News). Motorists can expect a slow commute through Lodi in the coming months as crews begin safety work on Highway 99 in two weeks Caltrans announced Wednesday that it will begin its Roadside Safety Improvement Project along the highway between Harney Lane and Turner Road the week of Jan. 8. Crews will construct roadside safety improvements at 15 locations along the highway, including maintenance vehicle pullouts, gore and slop paving, guard rail installation and vegetation control. Work will vary at each location, and is expected to be complete by May.
- ＄ Save the railings! A battle cry for historic Big Sur bridge (Mercury News). To drive over Big Sur’s Garrapata Creek Bridge is to witness a magic trick. The railing of the historic bridge doesn’t conceal the stunning view — rather, the beach sails majestically into sight, seemingly unobstructed. But the vista is under threat, because the remarkable railings at this 1930s-era bridge — and five other famed “Big Sur Arches” — are cracking and dangerous, so they must be replaced with sturdier structures. Once they’re gone, so is the beautiful illusion. A proposed $8.8 million project by Caltrans to install safe new railings on the Garrapata Creek Bridge — obstructing the ocean view with a higher base, thicker top rail and smaller arches, reducing the width of the portals from 10 to 6 inches — has ignited a feud in this remote rugged landscape, immortalized in poetry, writings and millions of #BigSur Instagram posts. Opponents are issuing a call to arms: Save the railing!
- Golden Gate Bridge’s Suicide Net Is Finally Complete (SF Standard). Kevin Hines regretted jumping off San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge the moment his hands released the rail and he plunged the equivalent of 25 stories into the Pacific Ocean, breaking his back. Hines miraculously survived his suicide attempt at age 19 in September 2000 as he struggled with bipolar disorder, one of about 40 people who survived after jumping off the bridge. Hines, his father, and a group of parents who lost their children to suicide at the bridge relentlessly advocated for a solution for two decades, meeting resistance from people who did not want to alter the iconic landmark with its sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay.
- 🎥 Golden Gate Bridge suicide prevention net finally complete (AP News). After decades of planning and years of construction, a net to prevent suicides at San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge is finally finished.
- January 5: This Date in Los Angeles Transportation History (Metro’s Primary Resources). 1966: Santa Monica Freeway is completed, becoming the western terminus of Interstate 10.
- As gas use declines, California could lose $4 billion in transportation funding, report finds (CAP Radio). Taxes on gas and vehicle fees fund about a third of California’s transportation spending. But as the state transitions away from gas-powered vehicles to electric, a new report says this will need to change. A report from the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office projects a net transportation funding decline of about $4.4 billion — or 31% — within the next decade. This number is based on the assumption that other fees, like registration fees for zero-emission vehicles, will partially but not completely offset the declining fuel tax revenues. This money is a primary funding source for highway maintenance. [✒ This is one reason California has been exploring a VMT (Vehicle Miles Travelled) tax for Electric Vehicles and Hybrid Electrics]
- Ħ Ambitious Santa Monica Causeway (Topos Magazine). At the height of the automotive city planning theories in 1961, visionary John Drescher proposed a bold infrastructure concept for the Santa Monica shoreline. To relieve the traffic of the Pacific Coast Highway, a new causeway should be built around one kilometre off shore. A 10 kilometres long cascade of man-made islands should carry the causeway over the Santa Monica Bay, connecting the Freeway 10 with Malibu. In the early 20th century Santa Monica became a famous resort town for the fast-growing Los Angeles County. Soon the scenic beach was overcrowded by cars of visitors and traffic jams were blocking the roads. Aircraft designer Dreschers idea of the artificial islands included space for residential and recreation areas with beaches for up to 50.000 persons.
- PEA SOUP ANDERSEN’S CLOSES IN BUELLTON (The Restaurant Guy). This just in from reader Kent: “Pea Soup Andersen’s in Buellton is closed. I heard from multiple sources that the restaurant is closed but am not sure about the hotel. I also heard a rumor that it will be torn down and stores and condos will be built there. The end of an icon.” I called the restaurant’s sister location in Santa Nella and they confirmed the closure after 100 years in business. They said that the property was sold and will be redeveloped and that an all-new Pea Soup Andersen’s will open in the future.
- Blog: First take on 2024 Woodside Road project (Redwood City Pulse). So far, Caltrans is keeping its 2024 plans for Woodside Road close to the vest. It could be yet another highway widening, but it sounds like a Restriping and Repaving Project is bringing buffered bike lanes to SR-84 as part of their reasonably new Complete Streets program. It’s worth mentioning that California’s Complete Streets Act (AB1358) dates back to 2008.
- Build.CA: Building California’s future (State of California). California is making the biggest investment in infrastructure since the 1950s and 60s. It’s a once-in-a-generation drive that will benefit communities across California. This website provides information on individual projects. It gives a partial list of the work happening across California. These projects will help us: ♦ Build a new system of clean energy ♦ Move away from dirty fossil fuels ♦ Build and repair our roads, bridges, and public transit ♦ Bring high-speed internet to every Californian ♦ Clean the air and restore our natural spaces ♦ Grow our economy. The map and table show select projects and how they impact communities in California. Project information may not be current and project locations are approximate. We will update the data and this website over time.
- As costs soar, Metro scales back plan for Union Station overhaul (Urbanize LA). Since acquiring the Union Station in 2011, Metro has sought to overhaul the historic passenger rail terminal’s appeal as both a transit hub and a real estate asset. The planned makeover – called Link Union Station – calls for building new run-through at the southern end of the station, allowing trains to cross above the US-101 Freeway, while also expanding an existing passenger tunnel and adding new amenities. That vision, as with so many other ambitious infrastructure projects across the country, has faced the challenge of a growing budget that exceeds available funding: in June 2023, the price tag of Link Union Station had ballooned to an estimated $1.93 billion, more than double the $950 million Metro had secured for construction.
- Is Controversial Highway 99 Ramp Revamp for Safety, Business, or Both? (GV Wire). The Fresno City Council in December voted to accept the environmental study for major renovations to the onramps and offramps at North Avenue and Highway 99. One councilmember worries that in doing so, the action would rope the city into an ongoing legal battle involving community groups that claim the new interchange would bring added truck traffic to an already-polluted area of Fresno. Other councilmembers counter that the renovations will increase traffic safety and bring much-needed infrastructure such as sidewalks, traffic lights, and bike lanes to the area. At issue is 3,000 acres in southeast Fresno that business advocates and county supervisors want to dedicate for future industrial development.
- ‘Legacy’ sign on Bay Area’s I-580 highlights America’s incompetence (SF Gate). While driving east down Interstate 580, observant drivers might notice a sign unlike any other in the Bay Area. “Livermore 17 mi / 27 km and Stockton 56 mi / 90 km,” it reads. The use of kilometers on the sign — why it’s there and why it hasn’t come down yet — illustrates the complicated history behind America’s standards for measurements. Caltrans couldn’t confirm whether there are other highway markers in the Bay Area that also include kilometers, which suggests that the one on I-580 is one of the oddest signs in the region. The agency installed it on I-580 more than 30 years ago, but the story of why it appeared in the first place is much older. It’s marked by numerous starts and stops for embracing the metric system, and even includes a tale of a tragic hijacking by pirates in the Caribbean.
- Will this $750 Billion Plan Solve Southern California’s Traffic Woes? (Streetsblog California). What’s on your calendar for 2050? Not sure? Well, what about the calendar for your community – for how it will look and how people will get around twenty years from now? If you live in Southern California, the Southern California Association of Governments, better known as SCAG, is currently asking for your thoughts on just these questions. SCAG is working on its twenty-year vision for transportation, and the deadline for comments is this week, on January 12. The 2024 Connect SoCal plan, as SCAG has named its Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (RTP/SCS), is available to peruse, but it seems to be mostly a compilation of all the local plans from the 200 or so jurisdictions that make up SCAG, stapled together with little tweaks here and there.
- Biden Administration Steps in on Caltrans’ Highway Expansion in Fresno (Streetsblog California/Fresnoland). A decision by the Biden administration casts new doubt on a planned expansion of Highway 99 in south central Fresno, raising concerns about the project’s impact on air quality and prompting fresh scrutiny from the Environmental Protection Agency. Citing potential procedural mistakes by the Federal Highway Administration, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has ordered a reevaluation of the agency’s decision to exempt two interchange expansions, on North and American Avenues, from a Clean Air Act analysis.
- Work continues to reopen Highway 1 through Big Sur (KSBY). The reopening of Highway 1 at Paul’s Slide is still on track for late spring of 2024, according to Caltrans. Drivers have been unable to travel all the way through Big Sur since last winter’s severe storms caused landslides at several locations along Highway 1. While other damaged locations have been repaired and reopened, work continues at Paul’s Slide, and the highway is closed to vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic for 1.5 miles between Limekiln State Park and the town of Lucia.
- Highway 46 widening project in Cholame continues with traffic switch onto new lanes (Paso Robles Press). Construction on the Highway 46 East widening project in the Cholame area will include a traffic switch onto a segment of the newly constructed lanes beginning Tuesday, January 16. This traffic switch onto a new alignment of what will eventually become the westbound lanes of Hwy. 46 East will include two-way travel from just east of the Shandon Rest Area to just west of the Hwy. 46/State Route 41 “Wye” Interchange. This temporary traffic switch will be in place while construction proceeds on the new eastbound lanes of the highway. Businesses will remain open during this traffic shift. Travelers will maintain access to Bitterwater Road and the Jack Ranch Café via a temporary driveway constructed just east of Bitterwater Road. This temporary traffic shift is anticipated to be in place until early summer 2024. Electronic message boards will be activated informing travelers about this roadwork.
- Improved access planned for Santa Cruz County’s North Coast (Santa Cruz Local). A plan to improve North Coast parking lots, build new restrooms and potentially rent cabins at Greyhound Rock County Park is being whittled down to a priority list due this spring, county leaders said. Santa Cruz County leaders released the 86-page North Coast Facilities Master Plan draft in October partly as a response to more coastal visitors since 2020. The plan lists more than 40 potential projects from Big Basin Redwoods to Wilder Ranch state parks along Highway 1. The plan tries to “improve management while preserving one of California’s most beautiful stretches of coastline,” Santa Cruz County spokesman Jason Hoppin wrote in a statement. “Santa Cruz County’s North Coast has limited visitor amenities, infrastructure and law enforcement, and high visitation levels have increasingly overwhelmed the area and threatened natural resources, public safety and visitor experience,” Hoppin wrote.
- We’re One Step Closer To A Toll Transponder That Can Be Used Nationwide (Your Mileage May Vary). When different areas each develop their own version of specific electronic capabilities in different places, their interoperability can be…complicated. Case in point, toll transponders. Here are some examples of the issues that have popped up:
- ‘Construction disruption’ coming to an end: Centennial Corridor set for February completion (bakersfield.com). For decades, it ended with a right or left. “Growing up, we would always drive out from the east side, down 58 and then you stop at Real Road,” said Bakersfield Councilman Andrae Gonzales. “And then you’d have to make a left or right.” Bakersfield’s multiphase Centennial Corridor project, which connects two state highways through the city, will open to the public next month. It brings to a close a 15-year construction period costing $1.5 billion. Beyond the finished corridor, the project entailed bike paths, sound walls, on and off ramps and a six-story bridge that towers over Highway 99. It also took years of negotiations with landowners to demolish nearly 200 homes and businesses.
- Drivers upset over length of construction project on Highway 99 in Merced County (ABC30 Fresno). The California Department of Transportation is expected to close several on and off-ramps along Highway 99 in Merced County. Caltrans says drivers should expect a 5 to 10-minute delay and use alternate routes whenever possible. The closure is for a pavement project that is expected to end by January 20th, but Caltrans officials say that could change depending on traffic incidents. Drivers in Merced County say those traffic incidents happen way too often.
- This bridge in Kings Co. will be closed for 6 months (YourCentralValley.com). The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) announced Wednesday that there will be a planned replacement of the Kings River Bridge on Highway 41 southwest of Stratford in Kings County in February. The planned replacement is scheduled to begin on Feb. 5. Caltrans says the purpose of the replacement project is to address the superstructure, substructure, and seismic deficiencies of the existing bridge to ensure the safety and reliability of Highway 41.
- January 16: This Date in Los Angeles Transportation History (Metro’s Primary Resources). 1930: Five hundred public officials and delegates representing civic bodies convening in Pasadena are presented with the first volume of the County of Los Angeles’ Regional Plan of Highways which covers Section 2-E: San Gabriel Valley.
- Paywall bypass (Andrew Ducker on Dreamwidth). For people who read my links and sometimes hit a paywall, there are multiple methods of bypassing them. [✒ I saved this because there are far too many paywalled headlines, and this might help readers here get through the paywalls]
- Will San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge survive the next magnitude 7+ earthquake? USGS details new threat Bay Area could face (ABC7 San Francisco). California is long overdue for a major earthquake. In fact, new data from the United States Geological Survey suggests the next one to hit the Bay Area will likely be larger and more impactful than previously thought. As far as when, geologists warn the threat could be imminent. The ABC7 News I-Team is digging into the preparation underway to see which areas are most at risk – starting with the Golden Gate Bridge.
- Better late than never: Centennial Corridor to open soon (KGET). For decades Bakersfield greeted westbound Highway 58 traffic with an abrupt choice — turn left or right onto Real Road, a two lane surface street, because the freeway ends right there. Not everyone noticed. Over the years a few drivers kept going, hopping the curb and plowing right into the Wild West Shopping Center on Real Road. Wild indeed.
- ＄＄ Transit consolidation gut-and-amend bill replaced (San Mateo Daily Journal). Senate Bill 926 was introduced Friday, Jan. 12, by state Sen. Aisha Wahab, D-Hayward, as a way to replace her previously introduced legislation Senate Bill 397, which instructs the California State Transportation Agency to develop a plan for the eventual consolidation of the roughly two dozen transit agencies operating in the Bay Area. SB 397 was introduced as a gut-and-amend bill on Thursday, Jan. 4 — which takes an already-approved bill and substantially alters the language — as a way to expedite what she previously referred to as a public transit system with “too many cooks in the kitchen.” But due to the nature of such a bill, it would have had to go through the Senate by the end of the month, something Wahab’s office regarded as unlikely. Instead, SB 926 will go through committee hearings as part of the regular session.
- 🎧 A Safety Net Under the Golden Gate Bridge | KQED (SOURCE). After decades of advocacy, a stainless steel safety net underneath the Golden Gate Bridge is nearly finished. Officials and loved ones affected by suicide hope it will save lives by deterring people from jumping.
- January 18: This Date in Los Angeles Transportation History (Metro’s Primary Resources). 1951: The First and Second Street Bridges over the new Harbor Freeway in downtown Los Angeles are completed at a cost of $450,000.
- ＄＄ Millbrae reimagines El Camino Real (San Mateo Daily Journal). Millbrae’s options for an upcoming El Camino Real and Millbrae Avenue median redesign project could vary from a cost-effective “forest city” to a grand boulevard conceptualization complete with lights and sculptures, said representatives from NCE, the city’s landscape architecture firm. The upcoming redesign comes alongside broader upgrade efforts for Millbrae’s stretch of El Camino Real, which could include a “road diet” that shrinks the number of lanes.
- Toll-payment program makes repayments more affordable for Bay Area drivers (The Bay Link Blog). Early indications from the first five months of the MTC/Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) Bay Area Toll Payment Plan – created to enable drivers who owe overdue tolls, fees and penalties get out of debt and start fresh – suggest that customers are enrolling, payment plans are being completed, and those customers receiving benefits are happy. These are just some of the findings released at the Jan. 10 BATA Oversight Committee meeting(link is external). As of Nov. 30, 2023:
- California’s first turbo roundabout is almost ready (KSBW). After months of construction, California’s first and America’s second turbo roundabout will soon open all lanes of traffic at the Highway 25 Highway 156 roundabout later this month. Cal Trans opened one lane of traffic at the roundabout back in August, and since then, drivers commuting in and out of San Benito County have been trying to navigate the new change. For some drivers, the new road has been fairly easy to understand, but other drivers said they are confused and avoid that route altogether. To help drivers understand the turbo roundabout, Caltrans created a video for drivers.
- Update on Hwy 127 Emergency Project from Baker to Dumont Dunes (Pain In The Pass). The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) continues $28.1M emergency work on State Route Highway 127 (SR-127) to repair roadbed, pavement, backfill shoulders, armor erosion embankments, repair drainage, remove debris and address other structural damage sustained by recent last summer monsoon storms. Update on the Percent Work Completed is 42% as of January 6, 2024. Contractor crews are in the area clearing debris, performing roadbed repair, drainage repair and various other recovery efforts. The route remains re-opened with flagging operations in place from Monday through Sunday. This is a 24-hour flagging operation, with piloting to direct traffic in both directions.
- Last Chance Grade Environmental Document (D1 on Facebook). 📣📣📣 EXCITING NEWS!!! Caltrans has released an environmental document that could lead to a permanent solution at Last Chance Grade along U.S. 101 in Del Norte County. We want to hear what you think about the two proposed alternatives at a virtual meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24. Link to Draft EIR, available until 2/13/2024.
- California’s Freeway Enhancement Project Gives I-605 Needed Facelift (Construction Equipment Guide). Construction on the California Department of Transportation’s (Caltrans) $298 million I-605 Freeway Enhancement Project began in late October last year, with a joint-venture of C.A. Rasmussen Inc. and FDB Vanguard Construction Inc. taking on $72.7 million Segment 1; and Peterson-Chase General Engineering Construction Inc. began work on the $24.5 million Segment 2 a few weeks ago. Divided into three segments, the project will extend the I-605 pavement life by up to 40 years, reduce costly repairs, provide a smoother ride for motorists and trucks and create a safer environment for Caltrans workers by reducing the frequency and duration of time in the work zone for pavement maintenance. “Over the next 12 months, the contractors will be working on placing K-rail and constructing Biostrip, bioswales, drainage systems, curb ramps and freeway concrete slab replacement,” stated the JV team. “We feel that this project will run smoothly and anticipate completing the designed work in a timely manner.”
- California Digital Newspaper Collection (UCR). This collection contains 1,184,384 issues comprising 15,568,802 pages and 52,061,807 articles. The California Digital Newspaper Collection is a project of the Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research (CBSR) at the University of California, Riverside. The CDNC is supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library. The CBSR has received five grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitize California newspapers for the National Digital Newspaper Program. Titles digitized as part of the NDNP are available both here and at the Library of Congress Chronicling America website. [✒ I saved this because this may be a useful resource for historical research, esp. as it is free, as opposed to the subscription-based newspapers.com]
- CalTrans open house to discuss Guadalupe transportation projects (Santa Maria Times). Caltrans will hold an open-house format public meeting on Jan. 31 to present details of the Downtown Guadalupe Sidewalk Repair and Replacement Project, Santa Maria River Bridge Replacement Project, and several other projects in the Guadalupe area. The public is invited to attend the meeting from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Guadalupe City Hall Auditorium, 918 Obispo St.
- Hwy 25 curve realignment cost $14.2 million (BenitoLink). The Highway 25 curve alignment, located 32 miles south of Hollister, is on schedule to be completed in late spring, and the combined cost of the original, failed project and its restoration has come to $14.2 million. Caltrans Project Manager Terry Thompson said that the current alignment project, which began in 2017 and fixes a landslide that occurred shortly after the original realignment was completed, will have a total cost of $9.5 million. The cost of the original realignment was $4.7 million. Caltrans began the first realignment in 2011 and completed it in 2015. Jim Shivers, public-legislative affairs manager for Caltrans District 5, said the project on consisted of straightening a curved portion of Highway 25 and cutting back slopes through a hillslide.
- Los Angeles Unveils a Less Confusing Parking Sign Inspired by the Designs of Nikki Sylianteng (Bloomberg). For a city so reliant on cars, Los Angeles sure hasn’t had much success with street parking signs. Its infamous “totem” sign poles—parking regulation stacked atop parking regulation—have been known to climb as high as 15 feet. Grab your stilts and take a gander at this recent beauty from Culver City (via Curbed LA): No more. On Friday, the city unveiled new “easy-to-read” parking signs that are actually easy to read. The “grid-style” signs rely on color coding and graphic representations rather than words—a perfect fit for the age of emoticons. So long as drivers know the time and the day of the week, and that green is good and red is bad, it’s hard to see them getting confused by these design gems:
- Plan Ahead: Major Roadwork Projects Announcement from Caltrans (Redheaded Blackbelt). The following scheduled roadwork [in Caltrans D1] has been verified at the time of release. Please keep in mind work is weather permitting and subject to change. For updates to this list, visit: QuickMap at http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov, check the California Highway Information Network (CHIN) at https://roads.dot.ca.gov or call 1-800-GAS-ROAD (1-800-427-7623). For information pertaining to emergency roadwork, check QuickMap and the CHIN. For media updates, please contact the appropriate Public Information Officer listed above.
- Caltrans Invites Input On New Welcome Monument At Oregon Border Along U.S. Route 199 (Redheaded Blackbelt). Caltrans is reaching out to the public for valuable input on the design of a new welcome sign or monument to be installed at the Oregon border along U.S. Route 199 in Del Norte County. The outdated welcome sign at the Oregon border is set to be replaced with a new monument, and Caltrans wants the community’s feedback on its design. As a component of Governor Gavin Newsom’s Clean California initiative, this project aligns with the broader mission of creating a welcoming atmosphere and enhancing public spaces throughout the Golden State. [✒ The comments on this are interesting to read, and reflect the attitudes of far northern California (cough, State of Jefferson, cough)]
- State Route 152 Merced Rescission (Caltrans). Notice of intent to Consider Rescinding Route Adoption for State Route 152 The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is proposing to rescind the previously adopted route for sections of State Route 152 in Merced County from postmiles 23.93-40.95, near Los Banos from Santa Fe Grade Rd. to the Merced/Madera County line. The rescission of the route adoption will allow Caltrans to dispose of the parcels of land under its ownership. The California Transportation Commission (CTC) approved a report titled SR 152 Rescission Evaluation Report Los Banos Area District 10 (RER) dated August 16, 2023. The report analyzed the original intent and plan for the construction of a freeway with restricted access points on this portion on State Route152.The subsequent determination is that these improvements are no longer warranted.
- Centennial Corridor Ribbon Cutting (City of Bakersfield on FB). YOU’RE INVITED! The City of Bakersfield, the Thomas Roads Improvement Program and Caltrans will be hosting a public ribbon cutting ceremony for the Centennial Corridor at 11 a.m. Feb. 9. The more than $600 million project will connect Highway 58 to the Westside Parkway and Interstate 5.
- 110 Freeway closure: Both directions to shut down near downtown LA to demolish 21st street pedestrian bridge overpass (ABC7 Los Angeles). Major closures are planned for the 110 Freeway near downtown L.A. this weekend, creating potential traffic headaches for motorists. Closures in both directions are planned from the 10 Freeway to Exposition Boulevard. It’s all to demolish the 21st Street pedestrian bridge that’s no longer in use.
- SR-127 crews are making amazing progress! 24/7 flagging continues! (Caltrans D8/Constant Contact). The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) continues $28.1M emergency work on State Route 127 (SR-127) to repair roadbed, pavement, backfill shoulders, armor erosion embankments, repair drainage, remove debris and address other structural damage sustained by recent monsoon storms. Contractor crews are in the area clearing debris, performing roadbed repair, drainage repair and various other recovery efforts. The route remains re-opened with flagging operations in place from Monday through Sunday. This is a 24-hour flagging operation, with piloting to direct traffic in both directions.
- Pony Express National Historic Trail (Partnership for the National Trails System). Founded in April 1860, the legendary Pony Express ran for only 18 months before it was rendered irrelevant by the installation of a transcontinental telegraph. Today, the Pony Express National Historic Trail marks the nearly 2000-mile route taken by Pony Express Riders during cross-country mail deliveries during the service’s tenure. Notable sites along this trail include Historic Trails Park (Marshall’s Ferry), Chimney Rock National Historic Site, and the B.F. Hastings Building in Sacramento, California. Discover more points of interest along the Pony Express Trail here. [✒ A recent post on some FB group showed the National Pony Express Historic Trail sign, meaning I wanted to grab some information to add that trail to the appropriate route pages]
- Pony Express (National Pony Express Association). From St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California the Pony Express could deliver a letter faster than ever before. In operation for only 18 months between April 1860 and October 1861, the Pony Express nevertheless has become synonymous with the Old West. In the era before electronic communication, the Pony Express was the thread that tied East to West. As a result of the 1849 Gold Rush, the 1847 Mormon exodus to Utah and the thousands who moved west on the Oregon Trail starting in the 1840s, the need for a fast mail service beyond the Rocky Mountains became obvious. This need was partially filled by outfits such as the Butterfield Overland Mail Service starting in 1857 and private carriers in following years. But when postmaster general Joseph Holt scaled back overland mail service to California and the central region of the country in 1858, an even greater need for mail arose. The creation of the Leavenworth & Pike’s Peak Express Company by William H. Russell, Alexander Majors and William B. Waddell became the answer. It was later known as the Pony Express.
- Pony Express National Historic Trail (U.S. National Park Service). It is hard to believe that young men once rode horses to carry mail from Missouri to California in the unprecedented time of only 10 days. This relay system along the Pony Express National Historic Trail in eight states was the most direct and practical means of east-west communications before the telegraph.
- Golden Gate Bridge weighs toll increase proposals (Marin I-J). Golden Gate Bridge officials will consider four options for another five-year round of toll increases that would break the $10 mark for all drivers as the agency faces financial struggles. Last week, the board governing the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District authorized staff to hold two online “open houses” before taking the proposal to a vote at a public hearing. District officials say they are facing a $220 million budget shortfall over the next five years if tolls are not increased. “At the open houses, the public will learn about the financial needs and will be asked to comment on the four toll increase options,” Jennifer Mennucci, the district’s budget director, said Thursday at a meeting of the finance committee.
- Bay Area counties get part of $1.2B windfall to invest in several transportation projects (Local News Matters). The California Transportation Commission (CTC) has allocated almost $1.2 billion to invest in urban and rural projects in an ongoing historic effort to enhance the state’s crucial transportation infrastructure, Caltrans said. The recent allotments represent approximately $428 million from the 2021 federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and $168 million through Senate Bill 1, known as the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017.
- Retiring Interstate-Guide.com (AARoads). Interstate-guide.com was started back in 2002, when Doug Kerr, Andy and myself were growing a site covering Interstate Highway ends, similar to what Dale Sanderson did with usends.com. Back when server space was limited and bandwidth issues with hosts were a regular problem, interstate-guide was one of seven separate URL’s spun off from AARoads. The separate sites allowed us to disperse the bandwidth enough so that we wouldn’t lose our hosting, as all of the photo requests for the site on the shared servers back then were a routine issue with the hosts. Over the last two decades, improvements to hosting packages reduced the need to disperse content onto separate sites. This became readily apparent when we moved AARoads onto a dedicated server. So as it became an increasing pain to change the design for so many sites, let alone paying Godaddy for eight different domain names, we began merging the content back over to AARoads. Until recent years, all that remained was a handful of pages on southeastroads.com and then the entire site of Interstate-Guide.com. [✒ This is to remind me to update the highway page links for the website.]
- Hollywood Burbank Airport breaks ground on $1.2B replacement terminal (Urbanize LA). In a ceremony held on January 25, the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority officially commenced work on Hollywood Burbank Airport’s new replacement terminal. The $1.2-billion project, called “Elevate BUR,” will be located in the northeast section of the airport property, and consist of a 355,000-square-foot building with 14 passenger gates. Plans also call for new shopping and dining options, a ticketing lobby with automated kiosks, a new TSA checkpoint, and a new baggage claim area.
- ＄ Sorry, speeders: New bill would require speed-limiting devices in California cars (Los Angeles Times). What if you could not speed that much? That’s the premise of a new bill in the California Senate that would require vehicles sold in the state to be equipped with speed governors to limit how fast they can go. The proposal from Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) is part of a package of bills that he hopes will reduce traffic injuries and deaths in the Golden State. “There’s no reason why people should routinely be allowed to drive more than 10 mph above the speed limit,” Wiener said in an interview with The Times. “You can want whatever you want. But that doesn’t mean you’re allowed to do it, and that doesn’t mean you should be physically able to do it.”
Gribblenation Blog (Tom Fearer)
- Spreckels Avenue. Spreckels Avenue is an approximately 1.5-mile roadway located south of Salinas in Monterey County. Spreckels Avenue is named after the community of Spreckels which is one of the best-preserved company towns in California. Spreckels was founded in in 1898 by the Spreckels Sugar Company who operated a mill in the community from 1899-1982. Spreckels Avenue begins at the grade of the former Spreckels Branch Railroad and terminates to the west at California State Route 68.
- Honey Run Covered Bridge. The Honey Run Covered Bridge is a recently lost structure which was located on Honey Run Road in Butte County, California. The Honey Run Covered Bridge opened to traffic during January 1887 and was part of the highway which connected Chico to Paradise. The Honey Run Covered Bridge was bypassed by the Chico-Paradise Skway during August 1950. The Honey Run Covered Bridge remained open to traffic until 1965 when a truck damaged eastern span the structure. The eastern span of the structure was rebuilt and reopened as a pedestrian span in 1972. The Honey Run Covered Bridge was one of many structures near Paradise destroyed by the Camp Fire on November 8, 2018.
- The 1963 Chualar Bus Crash Site (US Route 101 and Broome Road). South of the community of Chualar along the southbound lanes of US Route 101 where traffic once could intersect westbound Broom Road lies the modest Bracero’s Memorial. The Bracero Memorial commemorates the site of the infamous Chualar Bus Crash of September 17, 1963, which killed 32 migrant workers and injured another 25. The bus involved with the crash had been illegally converted into a flatbed truck which carried dual benches. The Chualar Bus Crash is considered one of the worst traffic collisions in United States history. Pictured as the blog cover is the Bracero Memorial facing west down Broome Road.
- Westmoreland’s Suspension Bridge. Westmoreland’s Suspension Bridge is a lost structure which once served the mining town of Lancha Plana in Amador County, California. Westmoreland’s Suspension Bridge spanned the Mokelumne River as one of the first suspension bridges constructed in California. Pictured as the blog cover photo is the abandoned Westmoreland’s Suspension Bridge as it was featured in the September 1950 California Highways & Public Works. Lancha Plana and the site of Westmoreland’s Suspension Bridge were flooded when the Commanche Reservoir began to form in 1963.
- The Putah Creek Bridge of Monticello (former California State Route 28). The Putah Creek Bridge was a masonry structure constructed during 1896 by Napa County to serve the community of Monticello. The Putah Creek Bridge would be annexed into the State Highway System in 1933 when Legislative Route Number 6 was extended from Woodland Junction to Napa. The Putah Creek Bridge was a component of the original California State Route 28 from 1934-1952. The span briefly became part of California State Route 128 in 1953 until the highway was relocated as part of the Monticello Dam project in 1955. Today the Putah Creek Bridge sits at the bottom of the Lake Berryessa reservoir and is accessible to divers. Pictured as the blog cover is the Putah Creek Bridge as it was featured in the September 1950 California Highways & Public Works.