California Highway Headlines for September 2014

userpic=roadgeekingAs the new year turns (what, you say, it’s not New Years yet? Silly! It is both Jewish New Year and the start of a new Government Fiscal Year)… as I was saying, as the new year turns, here are some headlines about California highways from the last month of the last year:

  • Presidio Parkway project moving along, slated for 2015 opening. New tunnels are forming and new roads are poured by the day as Marin drivers see their future path taking shape where Doyle Drive once stood. In its place the new $1 billion Presidio Parkway is emerging and is set to open in the summer of 2015. Late 2015 had been the target date, but a good pace of construction and the drought have helped push up the date.
  • Event marks near-completion of Highway 12 Jameson Canyon project. Leaders from communities on both sides of Jameson Canyon gathered at Jameson Ranch Vineyards to applaud what state Department of Transportation Director Malcolm Dougherty called a much-anticipated near-grand opening of the wider, safer Highway 12 between Fairfield and Highway 29 near Napa.
  • Officials celebrate completion of Jameson Canyon widening project. After years of planning, two ballot initiatives, traffic snarls and fatal crashes, the long-awaited Jameson Canyon Road/Highway 12 widening project will be completed by the end of next week. Given that history, the elected officials who gathered at the Jamieson Ranch Vineyards for a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday morning reflected a mixture of moods — at times somber, mirthful, thankful and relieved.
  • New carpool lane in Novato set to open. Caltrans is set to open a 1.6-mile carpool lane Saturday morning on northbound Highway 101 in Novato, another incremental piece of the Sonoma-Marin Narrows highway widening project. The new lane, from just north of Atherton Avenue to just south of Olompali State Park, will ease the commute for northbound drivers at a key bottleneck where four lanes of traffic have merged into two. The $14 million project includes a widened bridge over Rush Landing Road, where traffic will now merge into three lanes through the 1.6-mile stretch.
  • Editorial: Progress made on widening Novato Narrows. For thousands of Novato commuters, the widening of Highway 101 can’t come soon enough. New lanes, widening of the highway’s Novato Narrows segment, are being finished “a chunk at a time.” That’s the way Mike Ghilotti, president of San Rafael’s Ghilotti Bros. Inc., described the methodical progress of the 16-mile job.
  • Federal money approved for fixes to bottleneck at 57 and 60 freeways. There may be relief in sight for drivers and truckers facing one of Southern California’s worst bottlenecks. Federal officials Tuesday approved a $10-million grant for a series of fixes to the congested interchange between the 60 Freeway and the 57 Freeway in eastern Los Angeles County.
  • New Hwy. 101 off-ramp opens in Petaluma. Another small piece of the Sonoma-Marin Narrows Highway 101 project opened this morning. Caltrans said the northbound off-ramp at the new Petaluma Boulevard South/Kastania Road interchange is now open to traffic. The interchange is now three-fourths open, with only the northbound on-ramp left to be completed. Crews continue to work on the new frontage road, extending Petaluma Boulevard South along the east side of the freeway. Farther south in Marin county, the new interchange at the Redwood Landfill is nearly complete with only the southbound off-ramp left to open. That project, including a new bike path through the Narrows, is expected to be completed next month.
  • MURRIETA: Keller Road/I-215 interchange to be accelerated. It’s still years away, but Murrieta officials are working to fast-track a new Interstate 215 interchange at Keller Road in the northern reach of the city. With the inking of a $1.25 million contract with Pasadena-based Jacobs Engineering Inc. on Tuesday, the Murrieta City Council is aiming to complete a condensed second phase of preparation in about 18 months. The phase – which involves planning, design and environmental study – usually takes three to five years.
  • Richmond Bridge third lane proposal inches forward. A proposal to add a third lane to ease congestion on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge is moving forward, albeit as slowly as the traffic on northbound 101 at rush hour. In March, “The Bay Area Transportation Authority approved a contract with HNTB Corp. for up to $3 million to provide design services,” the first step toward making the third lane a reality, said Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesman John Goodwin. A bike path on the upper deck is also part of the design.
  • 880-280 interchange: New ramps near Valley Fair to open in a few days. Work on the $62.1 million interchange at interstates 880 and 280 is coming down to the final paving stretch — and getting to Silicon Valley’s main shopping hubs at Valley Fair and Santana Row this Christmas season should be much easier. In a few days, three new on- and offramps to Stevens Creek Boulevard will open, and by Thanksgiving a special lane feeding traffic onto Monroe Street and bypassing Stevens Creek Boulevard should be ready. And early next year the biggest plum — the flyover ramp from north Interstate 280 to north Interstate 880 — should open, just before all the shovels and cranes are removed and workers depart for good.
  • High Desert Corridor draft environmental study is released. Caltrans and Metro today released the long-awaited draft environmental study for the High Desert Corridor project, which contemplates a new 63-mile freeway between Palmdale in Los Angeles County and the town of Apple Valley in San Bernardino County — along with a possible high-speed rail line, bikeway and green energy transmission corridor. The study also considers the legally-required No Build alternative.
  • Bay Bridge Steel Rods Are Sound, Final Tests Confirm. Metropolitan Transportation Commission chairman Steve Heminger said Tuesday that he is pleased that final tests confirm that most of the steel rods on the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge are safe and don’t need to be replaced. But Heminger expressed concern that a 2011 investigation that found problems with some of the rods, which secure earthquake shock absorbers to the deck of the eastern span, wasn’t brought to his attention or made public until recently
  • Latest defect: Bay Bridge tower rods sitting in water. Nearly every one of the 423 steel rods that anchor the tower of the new Bay Bridge eastern span to its base has been sitting in potentially corrosive water, Caltrans officials said Tuesday — one of the most serious construction defects found yet on the $6.4 billion project.
  • California artists to get pieces of old Bay Bridge to work with. At least 300 tons of the old Bay Bridge will live on in California public art projects that could include anything from light poles or street benches to large sculptures.