California Highway Headlines: 8/2/2013 – 8/15/2013

userpic=roadgeekingAh, the dog days of August. Hopefully, your dog days are more of a spaniel than a pit bull. Whatever breed they are, here are some headlines to entertain you by the pool:

  • Bakersfield’s “Westside Parkway” Opens. Clark Peters sends in word that the Westside Parkway in Bakersfield opens on 8/2; eventually, it will link CA-58 to I-5 and serve the rapidly growing parts of Stockdale and Rosedale. It may also eventually become a state highway. … and some more followup regarding route alignments.
  • Green Valley interchange may finally get money. Solano County and the state Department of Transportation are once again asking the California Transportation Commission for $24 million to help rebuild the Green Valley interchange. The money is a key piece to the $110 million effort to build a bigger, wider Green Valley interchange and build new on ramps to both Interstate 80 and Highway 12 in Jameson Canyon. This project is an initial phase of planned improvements in the Interstates 80 and 680 interchange area to improve traffic flow.
  • OCTA in the News for Aug. 2, 2013. Lots of news about I-405, I-605, and I-5. This edition includes news on the demolition of the Ortega Highway overpass (Route 74), as well as the OC-equivalent of carmageddon, where the I-405/I-605 junction will be closed.
  • LAKE ELSINORE: Damage to keep Ortega Highway closed indefinitely. With 6,000 feet of guard rail torched and twisted by the Falls Fire, the Ortega Highway will remain closed indefinitely west of Lake Elsinore to commuters, a transportation official said Tuesday, Aug. 6. “More than a mile of guard rail is going to have to be replaced,” said Shelli Lombardo, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Transportation in San Bernardino. “And we can’t let people on the road until the guard rail is replaced because it is a mountain road.”. Update: It reopened on Monday, August 12.
  • How to Savor Your Crawl Up the 405 Freeway … Through Jurassic LA.  If you’re among the 300,000 or so commuters who crawl through the Sepulveda Pass every day, you’ve surely noticed the $950-million construction project that is adding an extra lane to both sides of the 405 Freeway. You’ve no doubt spied the giant earthmovers slicing through the mountain. And at some point your gaze has rested on the eight-story-tall retaining walls doing their best to hold back the Santa Monica Mountains. Although expensive, inconvenient, and (some argue) unnecessary, those new cuts through the mountains thrill me. I’m a geologist, and the massive expansion project has given me a temporary glimpse into the very anatomy of this mountain range that bisects Los Angeles, separating West LA from the Valley, downtown from Burbank. You may not know it by looking at the sleek cars streaming over the pass or the helicopters beating overhead, but the last time some of these rocks touched air, dinosaurs walked the Earth.
  • Eight-month closure of southbound I-5 Pioneer Blvd/Imperial Hwy off-ramp. Caltrans will fully close the southbound Santa Ana Freeway (Interstate 5) off-ramp at Pioneer Boulevard/Imperial Highway beginning Thursday, August 15 at 8 a.m. The ramp will remain fully closed for eight months, through April 2014, when a new elevated off-ramp is complete and re-opens.
  • Building the Bay Bridge: 1930s vs. today. In the early 1930s, California designed and built the 8-mile Bay Bridge — west and east spans linked by the world’s biggest bore tunnel — in a mere 51/2 years. And workers did it ahead of schedule and for $78 million, well under budget. Decades later, when the seismically shaky 2-mile eastern span needed to be replaced, California took five years just to figure out what the new span should look like and design it. Construction is taking more than twice as long, and the price tag — $6.4 billion — is 41/2 times higher than engineers estimated.
  • Meanwhile, at the other end of the I-405… There’s an upcoming closure taking place on the I-405, but not where you think. Orange County Transportation Authority recently opened the newly reconstructed connector between the southbound San Diego Freeway (I-405) and the eastbound Garden Grove Freeway (SR-22), marking a milestone for the West County Connectors project. Now crews will move forward to demolish the old structure, a major demolition activity that will require a full 20-hour closure of the I-405 freeway.