California Highways Headlines: 10/14/13 – 11/15/13

userpic=roadgeekingThis has been a busy month, so I’ve sent the clever opening off to some place calmer:

  • Caldecott Tunnel fourth bore set to open Weather permitting, and depending on successful completion of safety and fire system tests, Caltrans officials say they’re “cautiously optimistic” they can open the bore to traffic the weekend of Nov. 16.
  • San Diego (405) Freeway work delayed by faulty retaining walls. Back in December 2011, commuters on the 405 Freeway through the Sepulveda Pass drove by an unusual sight. A retaining wall built for the new car-pool lane was collapsing, the gray concrete panels visibly buckling and falling. Alarmed by the discovery, construction crews tore down the wall. At least 14 other walls also came down and were rebuilt. State officials moved quickly, banning the construction of similar retaining walls throughout California. Today, the 405 Freeway project is more than 15 months behind schedule, a timeline that has Angelenos bemoaning the traffic congestion caused by construction of the 10-mile car-pool lane.
  • New Caldecott Tunnel bore has safety features inspired by deadly fire. Three decades later, lessons from one of the worst tunnel fires in American history have inspired many safety features built into the new $417 million Caldecott Tunnel fourth bore, which opens Nov. 16 or 17.
  • Oakland Museum of California to feature original Bay Bridge troll. A mysterious figure that has added intrigue and bit of magic to the Bay Bridge for more than two decades will have his time in the spotlight beginning later this week. The original Bay Bridge Troll will be on display at the Oakland Museum of California from Wednesday through Feb. 26. The 18-inch steel figure, which has large, curled horns and carries a spud wrench, will be featured as part of an exhibition titled “Above and Below: Stories from our Changing Bay,” which examines how people and nature have shaped the Bay Area together.
  • Major 405 project milestone: all Wilshire ramps now open. Great news today with the final Wilshire ramp to the 405 reopening to traffic. While there is some minor work remaining on the ramps, motorists can now fully see the two benefits: more capacity on the ramps and, equally important, the ramps on both sides of the freeway separate traffic that is exiting and entering the freeway. In the past, that has been a major source of slowdowns as motorists weaved their way onto and off the 405.
  • Demolition kicks off on Bay Bridge old span with upper roadway . The demolition of the Bay Bridge’s old eastern span — postponed last week — is scheduled to kick off early today, starting with the removal of the upper deck roadway between the cantilever section’s two iconic peaks.
  • Memorial on old Bay Bridge span for those who died. Along the deserted eastern span, a dozen other families Saturday gazed at the roadway or over the edge to the water, remembering loved ones who lost their lives on the bridge in traffic accidents or suicides. The memorial, organized by the California Highway Patrol, allowed the families to stand where their child, parent, sibling or friend died – something they were never able to do when the bridge buzzed with traffic. Some tied flowers to the cyclone fences erected for the span’s demolition. Others took pictures or stood silently and cried.
  • Demolition crews start chipping away at old Bay Bridge. The beginning of the end arrived Tuesday for the recently retired east span of the Bay Bridge, which will slowly disappear from its place of prominence over the next three years. Demolition crews, who had been preparing the 77-year-old bridge for its departure since its shiny new replacement arrived in September, began ripping out the upper road deck of the cantilever section as light rain yielded to sunshine Tuesday morning. The day, incidentally, was the anniversary of the bridge’s opening.
  • Novato to get another half-mile of carpool lane on Highway 101. On often-congested Highway 101 in Marin, every foot of new roadway makes a difference. Caltrans on Thursday morning is scheduled to open about 2,640 new feet — a half-mile — of southbound carpool lane between just north of Novato Creek and Rowland Boulevard in Novato. “It’s not a lot of new roadway, but it will make a difference,” said Steve Williams, Caltrans spokesman, of the $3.3 million worth of work. “We are working incrementally in that area and there is more to come.”