California Highway Headlines for November 2014

userpic=roadgeekingIt’s the end of November. We’ve just had Thanksgiving, and I — for one — am thankful for the great highways we have in the state of California, and for all the dedicated professionals who helped design, build, and maintain them. Here are some headlines that caught my eye in November:

  • Map of Proposed Beverly Hills Freeway. Some links to maps of the proposed freeway
  • VTA board to decide on Highway 85 express lanes on Nov. 6. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority board of directors is set to make a decision on how to best proceed on a major toll lane project that could bring congestion relief to Highway 85. On Nov. 6, VTA staff will ask the board to support a plan that would convert carpool lanes on each side of the approximately 24-mile route into toll lanes open to other motorists. The project proposes to convert the existing high-occupancy vehicle lanes on State Route 85 from U.S. 101 in South San Jose to U.S. 101 in Mountain View to allow single-occupancy vehicles to pay a fee during rush hour to join carpool, clean-air vehicles, motorcyclists and transit buses in the relatively faster lane. Today, SR 85 has six lanes, including a carpool lane in each direction.
  • VTA May Convert Carpool Lane Into Toll Lanes Along Highway 85. The Valley Transportation Authority is looking to convert miles of a carpool lane into toll lanes for solo drivers along Highway 85. The stretch on the freeway is among the South Bay’s slowest commutes and VTA officials think some drivers are willing to pay to speed things up.
  • Funds Diverted From Other Caltrans Projects To Make Up For New Bay Bridge Span Deficit. The new Bay Bridge eastern span will likely end up at least $35 million in the red, and officials are shifting money from other completed Caltrans bridge projects to make up the difference. Until recently, bridge officials were hopeful the span would cost less than the budgeted $6.4 billion. But there’s still as much as $110 million worth of unbudgeted work to be done on the span, according to Caltrans estimates to be presented to a bridge oversight panel on Tuesday.
  • Bay Bridge rod problem worse than previously thought. A problem with grout missing from protective shields around big steel rods in the $6.4 billion new Bay Bridge is more widespread than known a month ago, Caltrans officials said Wednesday. More testing has found that at least five rods — and possibly up to 35 more rods — are missing nearly all the grout that was supposed to fill a metal sleeve to block out potentially corrosive water. All in all, some grout is missing from 135 of the 423 rods, and several of the rods were exposed to water, Caltrans said.
  • Tribes Say CalTrans Illegally Destroying Historical Sites for Bypass . In the fall of 2012, Mike Fitzgerral was driving outside of Willits in Northern California, on Highway 101, the famous coastal roadway that wends through the awe-inspiring Redwood Forest, and he noticed construction workers had started erecting orange mesh fencing and cutting down oak trees. Fitzgerral, Chairman of the Sherwood Valley Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians, knew the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) had been investigating constructing a 5.9-mile bypass around Willits that would likely cut through the heart of Little Lake Valley, the lush wetlands and ancestral home of many Pomo tribal members in the area.
  • Freeway Cap Could Sew East LA’s Biggest Park Back Together. Freeway cap park fever has spread from Santa Monica to Hollywood to Downtown and now to East LA, where the LA County Department of Regional Planning has started to dream about putting a cap park on top of the 60 Freeway in East LA, once again joining the two halves of Belvedere Park, which have been separated since the freeway cut through more than 50 years ago. The 31-acre park is the largest in East LA proper and already has an Olympic-sized pool, an amphitheater, and a skate park, says Eastsider LA.
  • A year after Joseph Gatto slaying, LAPD again asks for public’s help. […] Also on Wednesday, part of the 10 Freeway was dedicated in Joseph Gatto’s name. The dedication ceremony was held in front of a mural of Gatto at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, which he helped found.
  • Toll lane project on Hwy. 85 through Saratoga, Cupertino hits standstill, at least until January. A major toll lane project that could bring congestion relief to Highway 85 is at a standstill at least until January after the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority board of directors moved to temporarily suspend the project.
  • Orange County takes continuous-access approach on carpool lanes . Freeway carpool lanes are being extended and tied together across Southern California, but one county is taking a decidedly different — and some studies suggest safer — approach to how they work. Orange County is reconfiguring its 267-mile network of HOV lanes so motorists can enter and exit anywhere, rather than just in designated areas that are often spaced far apart.
  • Exit sign on 710 Freeway misspells Olympic Boulevard as ‘Olimpic’. Even in this era of automatic spell check, we all still make typos. But rarely are they as big as what appeared this month on the northbound 710 Freeway.
    lRelated L.A. traffic the day before Thanksgiving will be the worst in U.S. On Nov. 6, a subcontractor installed a new sign for the Olympic Boulevard exit. It read “Olimpic.” A construction crew with the California Department of Transportation spotted the mistake the next morning, but it was too late.
  • Tall freeway spans will be relatively safe in quakes, Caltrans says. The sweeping, graceful arches of Southern California’s towering interchanges form some of the most iconic features of the world’s most famous freeway network. But in a region crisscrossed by fault lines, the ramps that soar hundreds of feet above traffic, and the lanes that run beneath them, can be disconcerting territory for drivers hyper-aware of earthquake risks.
  • Tunnels North Of Golden Gate Bridge May Finally Get Named After Robin Williams. State Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) has formally proposed legislation that would name the highway tunnels near the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge after Robin Williams.
  • Muting the Freeway: How roadside noise barriers are designed to absorb sound and evade attention. The freeway sound wall may be as overlooked as it is ubiquitous. Lining interstates and highways and freeways across the United States, these concrete and cinderblock structures are a blur in the peripheral vision of our automotive world.
  • Metro will study adding more pay lanes to Southern California freeways. An overflow of commuters signing up for access to pay-to-ride carpool lanes on the 110 and 10 freeways prompted the county’s transit agency to launch a study Thursday on how to convert more free lanes into pay lanes. Future freeways being studied for toll lanes include the 405, 5, 210 and even extensions of the 110 and 10 pay lanes, according to Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board member and Duarte City Councilman John Fasana.
  • New Bay Bridge demolition plans could preserve piers. Bay Area transportation officials are contemplating a plan to leave parts of the old eastern span of the Bay Bridge in place, a proposal that could preserve history and bring down the price of demolition by millions of dollars. Month by month, the skyline over the Bay changes as the old eastern span of the bridge is demolished. But the new plan proposes the questions: should crews leave some of it behind?
  • When the flow of traffic was all aboard the ferries. From 1850 to the early 1940s, ferryboats were the most important form of transportation in the Bay Area. They were also uniquely beloved — thanks to their leisurely pace, the on-deck friendships they fostered and, above all, the fact that they gave countless people an intimate daily connection with the San Francisco Bay.