California Highway Headlines – January 2013

userpic=roadgeekingA new year, and that means its time for a new collection of highway headlines:

  • 4.4 miles of new carpool lanes officially opened on 10 freeway between 605 and Puente Ave.. Caltrans and Metro [in mid-December] officially dedicated 2.2 miles of HOV lanes in both directions on the 10 freeway between the 605 freeway and Puente Avenue in Baldwin Park.
  • Caltrans Dismisses Montecito Groups’ Pleas on Highway 101, Tells SBCAG It Backs Original Plan. After months of meetings and analysis, Caltrans is right back where it started with Highway 101 in Montecito. Caltrans director Malcolm Dougherty wants to move forward with the original proposed South Coast Highway 101 HOV Project, he said in a recommendation letter issued Friday. The ongoing Highway 101 widening project includes the addition of carpool lanes through Montecito, the elimination of left-side entrance and exit ramps at Cabrillo Boulevard and Sheffield Drive, and the closing of the southbound Los Patos Way exit ramp.
  • Caltrans’s Way Is the Highway. Four days before Christmas, statewide Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty quietly drew a very bright line in the sand regarding his agency’s plans to widen Highway 101 from Montecito to the Ventura border, notifying critics with Common Sense 101, the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG), and anyone wondering about the fate of the biggest public works project ​— ​worth an estimated $450 million ​— ​to hit the South Coast in decades. Caltrans, the director stated, would give no further consideration to the much-disputed left-hand exit and entrance ramps at Cabrillo Boulevard and Sheffield Drive, stating their retention would pose “long-term safety and operational conditions and are not viable or approvable as part of this project.”
  • Drought’s Persistence Reveals More of Lake Cachuma’s Hidden Past Life. As the drought and receding shoreline of Lake Cachuma continue to do their thing, Santa Barbarans worry. And not without merit. Generations of locals have fretted about much-needed water — or lack thereof — and have come up with a number of ways to remedy the situation. In fact, the creation of the lake in the 1950s was just such a solution. One of the few perks of having a longstanding drought is that certain topographical features, otherwise unseen to us, reveal themselves. Such is the case with the “mystery bridge” and the foundations of a long-gone ranch that are usually submerged under the waters of the lake.
  • San Clemente Could See A Second I-5 Widening. A $275 million I-5 widening that will add carpool lanes between San Juan Creek Road in San Juan Capistrano and just past Avenida Pico in San Clemente could lead to a second widening in San Clemente. Don’t expect the second widening in San Clemente to occur anytime soon. The Transportation Authority has yet to determine the project’s scope and a source of funding for it, said OCTA spokesman Joel Zlotnik. More information here.
  • Highway 12 project sees progress. A $130 million push to widen Highway 12 to four lanes for the 6 miles through Jameson Canyon will see some milestones in coming days and weeks. What appears to be one project is really two separate projects with separate contractors, one in Napa County and one in Solano County. State Department of Transportation Senior Resident Engineer Elias Moussa said the Napa County side is 90 percent finished and the Solano County side is 70 percent finished.
  • I-215 overhaul included 15 new bridges, 34 ramps. A bevy of dignitaries hailed completion of the Route 215 widening project Friday. Deborah Barmack, formerly of SANBAG, says it took 7-years. But, the $647 million project was much more than a freeway improvement. “It will not only improve transportation and movement of goods, but it has served as a stimulus to reinvent the city of San Bernardino.” The overhaul included 15 new bridges, four new lanes, two flyovers and the reconstruction of 34 ramps.
  • Jamzilla 405 operation more complex than Carmageddon. The planned 80-hour “Jamzilla” paving operation now scheduled for Presidents’ Day Weekend, February 14-18 is more complex, requires new construction and is more time-consuming than the epic “Carmageddon” bridge demolitions of 2011 and 2012.
  • Bottleneck Opener? I-5 Widening In South County Starts Wednesday. A $249 million project to smooth out a notorious bottleneck on I-5 gets underway Wednesday – not with the clink of shovels, but with the crack of a six-foot Australian bullwhip. The project will add carpool lanes to nearly six miles of the freeway as it curves from San Juan Capistrano to San Clemente. Transportation officials consider its launch a big enough event that they hired a champion whip cracker – “Lovely Leslie” Leone of San Juan Capistrano – to cut the ceremonial starting ribbon.
  • I-5 freeway project gets cracking in South O.C.. The sharp crack of a whip Wednesday signaled the start of freeway construction that will add carpool lanes between San Juan Creek Road and Avenida Pico. More than 100 transportation, community and business leaders gathered to celebrate the start of construction for the $249 million I-5 South Improvement Project. In addition to adding the carpool lane in both directions between San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente, the project will rebuild the Avenida Pico interchange in San Clemente.
  • 101 Freeway toll studied . Paying a toll to bypass traffic on Ventura County’s stretch of the 101 Freeway may be the wave of the future for local commuters. But even if the Ventura County Transportation Commission’s $111,000 feasibility study finds that installing High-Occupancy Toll lanes along the 101 Freeway is doable, it would take at least a decade before motorists could actually use them.
  • Demolition of old Bay Bridge span months behind schedule. It’s only just begun, and the $239 million takedown of the old Bay Bridge eastern span has already fallen six months behind schedule – prompting officials to reopen negotiations with the contractor to try to speed things up. One immediate effect of the delay: The scheduled hookup of the popular bike and pedestrian path to Yerba Buena Island has been put back. Caltrans originally hoped to have the old bridge out of the way and the bike path ready to be connected to Yerba Buena by early 2015. “We are now looking at the summer of 2015,” said bridge project spokesman Andrew Gordon.
  • Preserving the Old Bay Bridge . As demolition moves forward on the historic structure, Bay Area artists are advocating for creative reuse of the steel before it’s scrapped and sent overseas.
  • Planning officials to study possible teardown of I-280 segment for rail connection. A stretch of Interstate 280, aka the John F. Foran Freeway, dissects much of the southern reaches of San Francisco and has its terminus at Fourth and King streets. Now the seeds are being planted for the potential transformation of the northernmost stretch of the old “southern freeway” as far south as Mariposa Street to make way for new rail links, among other projects in the area.