California Highway Headlines for July 2014

userpic=roadgeekingThe heat of summer is upon us. Hopefully, you’re keeping cool while reading these stories about California Highways from July:

  • CalTrans suspends all work on Willits bypass project until permit reinstated. CalTrans halted all work on the Highway 101 bypass around Willits on July 8, according to CalTrans spokesman Phil Frisbie. The work stoppage is a result of the suspension on June 20 of a key environmental permit by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. CalTrans had been keeping some parts of the project proceeding but on Monday told the contractors to suspend work effective July 8.
  • ​$1.5 billion 5 Freeway expansion begins. Construction begins [in early July] on the $1.8 billion 5 Freeway expansion near Norwalk. Caltrans has released its list of ramp closures and openings for the $1.8 billion project, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reports. The expansion, years in the planning, will include a car-pool lane and a general purpose lane from the Los Angeles/Orange County line to the 605 Freeway.
  • Before the 110 Freeway, Figueroa Street Ran Through These Tunnels. Driving through the Figueroa Street Tunnels might be one of L.A.’s most dramatic freeway experiences. As you plunge through the first Art Deco portal, the downtown skyline recedes in your rear-view mirror. A minute later, leaving the last of the four bores, you enter the world of the Arroyo Seco Parkway: sycamore trees, sweeping curves, and arched bridges. The tunnels weren’t always part of the state freeway system. Built between 1930 and 1936 by the city of Los Angeles, they originally carried Figueroa Street through the rugged terrain of Elysian Park. Two lanes traveled in either direction, separated by white double stripes. Pedestrians were welcome, if not expected; a single five-foot sidewalk (since removed) ran alongside the forty-foot wide roadway.
  • Progress on 280-880 interchange in San Jose. Mountains of dirt loom dozens of feet skyward, two huge cranes are positioned where new ramps are being built and dozens of construction workers in lime vests and hard hats scramble like ants from one corner of the new interchange at Interstate 280 and I-880 to the other. The framework for the $62.1 million interchange adjacent to the busy shopping centers at Valley Fair and Santana Row is in place. While work will last until next spring, soon commuters, shoppers and pedestrians will taste some of the new design.
  • Caltrans: I-80 re-striping part of interchange project. Motorists driving on westbound Interstate 80 will likely see reconfigured traffic lanes Thursday morning, as the California Department of Transportation prepares to start work on the I-680/Highway 12 interchange project.
  • Why does Caltrans want to give away the Tower Bridge?. The Tower Bridge is one of the Sacramento region’s most iconic landmarks, so why does Caltrans want to give it away? Currently, Sacramento owns the portion of Capitol Mall that leads to the bridge on the east, and West Sacramento owns the portion of the Tower Bridge Gateway that leads to the bridge on the west. The state only owns the 737-foot bridge.
  • The Forgotten History of L.A.’s Failed Freeway Revolt. Urbanists love to celebrate the victorious campaigns that have been waged against city highways over the years. From the successful crusades against the Lower Manhattan Expressway in New York and Inner Belt in Boston and Cambridge decades ago, to those against the Embarcadero Freeway in San Francisco and Park East Freeway in Milwaukee more recently—the glory gets told and retold, often to good purpose. As other cities consider similar efforts, the tales can both inspire and instruct.
  • Caltrans will put toll lanes on 405 Freeway despite objections. State transportation officials are moving forward with a controversial plan to add toll lanes to a busy stretch of the 405 Freeway in Orange County despite strong opposition from nearby cities who argue the so-called “Lexus lanes” will hurt average commuters. In December, Orange County Transportation Authority board members opted not to support the toll lanes in favor of a plan that would add one free lane in each direction, even though they were warned at the time that state officials may override the decision anyway. On Friday, the California Department of Transportation announced it was doing just that, arguing the toll lanes would offer welcome respite for commuters.
  • Southern California First: Freeway Teardown Project Coming to Long Beach . Funded by a grant from the California Department of Transportation, Long Beach released an RFP for conceptual and design services for a plan to transform the Terminal Island Freeway into a “regional serving greenbelt and local serving road.”
  • State offers Tower Bridge to Sacramento, West Sacramento. The Tower Bridge once was the grand entrance to Sacramento, escorting travelers on State Route 275 to the state Capitol steps. Today, for its owner, the state Department of Transportation, it’s become a bridge to nowhere. Caltrans relinquished the highway on both sides of the bridge to Sacramento and West Sacramento a decade ago, cutting the bridge off from the rest of the state highway system. Its 737-foot span over the Sacramento River is the shortest highway in the state. Caltrans now says it wants to give the vintage 1935 bridge to the two cities.