California Highway Headlines: 7/16/13 through 8/1/13

userpic=roadgeekingAh, the heat of the July Summer Sun. Warms the heart… and everything else. So here are some hot (but not necessarily HOT) highway headlines:

  • Project Team Updates San Juan Capistrano on Proposed I-5 Improvements. A public hearing on the proposed widening of the San Diego Freeway (I-5) between the San Joaquin Hills Toll Road (SR-73) and El Toro Road will be in August, an Orange County Transportation Authority outreach team member shared with members of the San Juan Capistrano City Council on Tuesday, July 16. The improvement project proposes to add additional carpool and general purpose lanes in both directions on I-5 between SR-73 in Laguna Niguel and El Toro Road in Lake Forest, OCTA project engineer Hamid Torkamanha and Outreach Specialist Ryan Romeos shared with the City Council.
  • Caltrans Makes Cuts to Adopt-a-Highway Litter Cleanup Program in Marin. Citing unsafe conditions for cleanup crews between the Waldo Tunnel and Corte Madera, agency cancels two adoption contracts; agreement with Conservation Corps North Bay up in the air.
  • 405 Freeway Expansion – Good For OC, Bad For LA County Border Areas? Long Beach officials are prepared to take legal action against an enormous billion-plus dollar 405 expansion in Orange County if measures aren’t taken to prevent what they see as a traffic nightmare for the city. The Orange County Transportation Authority has approved a project to widen the 405 from Costa Mesa north to the LA County Line. The basic plan in the Cal Trans project would be an additional lane for 16 miles in both directions. There is another plan out there that would create two lanes on each side of the freeway. Both lanes could be general purpose lanes or one could be toll. No decisions have been made.
  • Work driving ahead on Novato Narrows widening project. Piles are being driven near the Novato Creek Bridge as part of the work to widen the Marin-Sonoma Highway 101 Narrows, which aims to relieve the bottleneck that frustrates drivers on a daily basis. Three separate projects in Marin and one in Sonoma County are part of a new round of work on the project. In Marin, two will lengthen the Highway 101 carpool lane in Novato, while the other will see improvements to the Redwood Landfill interchange.
  • Talk Heating Up Again in O.C. Over Toll Lanes on 405. A renewed plan to expand the 405 Freeway with toll lanes in parts of northern Orange County was under fire from some city leaders on Thursday.
  • Caltrans engineers optimistic on fixing fire-damaged I-5/Route 2 interchange tunnel. As impervious as concrete might seem to both fire and heat, engineers know the contrary. Tom Brake, a senior bridge engineer for Caltrans, stepped away from the huddle — and talked about the worst-case scenario. When asked, he admitted that the tunnel could have collapsed, carrying with it a stretch of the 5 Freeway 20 feet overhead. After the fire, the steady concussion of traffic on the roadbed above would have put the fire-damaged concrete at risk of failure, and Los Angeles hasn’t seen a freeway collapse since the Northridge earthquake in 1994.
  • Greenbrae interchange working group members irked by lost meeting time. Some elected officials are up in arms after learning their task to explore alternatives to a $143 million plan to rework the Larkspur-Corte Madera stretch of Highway 101 has been cut short by nearly two months.
  • Will you miss Petaulma’s ‘flyswatter’? An icon of friendliness, Petaluma’s welcome sign, may soon have to come down. As Caltrans reconfigures the Petaluma Boulevard South interchange with Highway 101, the sign welcoming northbound motorists to the Egg Basket of the World is in the way. But any changes won’t be permanent, said Onita Pellegrini, chief executive of the Petaluma Chamber of Commerce.
  • Before the ‘Carmageddon’: A Photographic Look at the Construction of 5 SoCal Freeways. As Angeleños prepare to survive the upcoming weekend without access to a ten-mile section of the San Diego Freeway, our thoughts may turn to L.A.’s pre-freeway era, a time before it was possible to cruise through the Los Angeles basin at 70 miles per hour, a time when freeway construction was an occasion for celebrity photo-ops rather than an excuse to coin apocalyptic portmanteaux.
  • Is your road on Plan Bay Area list? The new Plan Bay Area was adopted last week, outlining transportation and land-use projects to be funded through 2040 within Sonoma, Napa and the other seven Bay Area counties. It’s dependent on receiving an anticipated 292 billion in federal, state and local money, but includes the following road projects.
  • Toll Lanes on 110 and 10 Seem to Be Working Pretty Well. If the ExpressLanes toll lanes on the 10 and 110 freeways don’t deliver on their traffic-reducing promises, the federal government could take back the $210 million in funding they provided, so Metro and Caltrans are keeping a close eye on the pilot program. They’ve just released their second preliminary report on the lanes, this one studying average speeds, transit ridership, and the like for April 2013–and if things keep up, the transit agencies won’t be writing any giant checks next year
  • I-405 Improvement Project Requires Long Beach to Pay Portion of Costs. A public meeting will be held Wednesday night to allow Long Beach residents to provide comment on an updated proposal to widen the 405 in Orange County that details traffic impacts in Long Beach and calls for the city to share in a portion of mitigation costs. Since the project’s updated Environmental Impact Report was released by the California Department of Transportation and the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), in June, 4th District Councilmember Patrick O’Donnell has attempted to raise awareness of its implications, most notably, the requirement that the city fund an undecided fair share percentage of the cost.
  • Roadshow: Why does El Camino Real now have freeway signs? Q Can you explain why all of a sudden there are several green-and-white freeway signs on El Camino Real in Burlingame and San Mateo? They are on both sides of the street and simply say “101” or “101 South” and they are not directional. It’s as though the sign installer got lost!
  • Greenbrae interchange group eyes southbound lanes, plans more meetings. Despite fears their work would be cut short, the working group exploring alternatives to a $143 million plan to rework the Larkspur-Corte Madera stretch of Highway 101 has reclaimed two formerly canceled meetings and made steps toward a plan for the southbound lanes.
  • 120-Day Closure of Northbound I-405 Sunset Boulevard Off-ramp Planned Beginning Aug. 3. The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project contractor is scheduled to begin a 120-day closure of the northbound I-405 off-ramp to Sunset Boulevard in West Los Angeles beginning August 3, 2013. Northbound freeway motorists that normally utilize the Sunset off-ramp to access Westside destinations are encouraged to plan ahead to determine alternate routes, allow extra time to reach destinations, eliminate unnecessary trips to avoid peak congestion and/or consider ridesharing and public transit options.
  • Devils Slide Trail takes shape. San Mateo County is poised to give the public its most detailed look yet at plans to transform Highway 1 at Devils Slide into one of the most dramatic coastal trails between the Marin Headlands and Big Sur. County parks officials will present a conceptual plan for the trail Thursday evening at a meeting in Moss Beach, giving nature lovers and others their first opportunity to give feedback. The county is preparing to take over from Caltrans the notorious cliffside road that linked Pacifica and Montara. The Parks Department aims to open the trail in early 2014.
  • OCTA in the News for July 25, 2013. Lots of stuff on the upcoming I-405/Route 22 closures, as well as the proposals for toll lanes on I-405. The OCTA post on the subject is better because it includes text from the now pay-walled OC Register.
  • La Canada Flintridge Council sets aside $500,000 for possible 710 freeway fight. The City Council set aside $500,000 of the city’s general fund reserve this week in a preemptive effort to fight construction of a possible tunnel connecting the 710 Freeway to the 210 Freeway. Councilman Donald Voss said he requested the issue be brought up to the council because the city needs to prepare in case the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority selects an option for the 710 freeway extension that could cause harm to the city.
  • CityDig: The Stunning Final Stretch of Route 66. While small, and just one panel of an eight panel pictoral project, this map has enough information to fill fifty guides. It’s the Los Angeles part of Bob Waldmire’s fantastic cartographic wonder depicting historic Route 66 from the land of Lincoln (whose portrait adorns the beginning point) to L.A., where Jim Morrison of the Doors stands for the City of Angels. This slice of the panorama has details where the old highway passes through Claremont, LaVerne, San Dimas, Glendora, Azusa, Duarte, Monrovia, Arcadia, Pasadena, Los Angeles, and Santa Monica. The legendary Route 66, sometimes called the “main street of America,” had its beginnings in November of 1926 and has captured the hearts of Americans who love to drive.
  • LA freeway system redrawn as a subway map. Designer Peter Dunn re-envisioned the Los Angeles area freeways and mounted a Kickstarter campaign that raised enough money to print the map on 36-inch by 24-inch heavy stock. It funded last week.
  • State Legislative Update: Spotlight on the CTC. Two important transportation issues come to a head this August at the Capitol: Assembly Speaker John Peréz’ bill, AB 1290; and, the Administration’s attempts to create a single funding pot for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects. At the heart of both issues is the California Transportation Commission (CTC).