California Highway Headlines for December 2014

userpic=roadgeekingThe end of the year, at last. I’m posting this during “shutdown” week — that period between Christmas and New Years when aerospace companies typically go on vacation for the week (and so I can take some time on the highway pages). Hopefully, you had a great 2014 with lots of safe travels and explorations of California’s highways. Here are some headlines from December related to those highways:

  • Willits bypass overrun at $64 million: Caltrans. Caltrans is seeking an additional $64 million to complete construction on a highway bypass around Willits, a project that has been beset by numerous delays and legal challenges from opponents who think the road is unnecessary and too environmentally damaging.
  • City Staff Selects Design Team for SoCal’s First Freeway Removal Project. It’s been named one of the top “Freeways Without Futures” in the nation and described as a “perfect example of obsolete infrastructure.” Its removal has been fought for by City Fabrick founder Brian Ulaszewski since 2010, long before the existence of Fabrick itself. It has been a blight on a neighborhood that sees some of the least amount of park space in the entire city. Nearly half a decade later, the project to remove a large portion of the Terminal Island (TI) Freeway in West Long Beach, after having gone out to bid in an RFP with an estimated bid value of $225K, has a team to take the project on: Meléndrez, y’know, the crew leading that tiny project known as the MyFigueroa project in LA and the Bixby Park re-design.
  • ‘Jackass’ star Steve-O cited for anti-SeaWorld stunt. “Jackass” star Steve-O has been charged with a traffic infraction for an anti-SeaWorld stunt in which he defaced a freeway sign in San Diego. The Los Angeles-based entertainer, whose full name is Stephen Gilchrist Glover, posted a YouTube video in August showing him climbing up the freeway sign to attach the word “sucks” after the words “Sea World.”
  • 5 Freeway widening project still has 4 more years to go. It’s been a tough three years for those relying on the 5 Freeway between the Orange County border and the 605 Freeway or for those living or doing business in the area. And there’s still an estimated four years to go, Caltrans officials predict.
  • Caltrans holds ribbon cutting for new I-5 truck lane and freeway widening in Santa Clarita. Hundreds of thousands of motorists will now enjoy reduced congestion and enhanced safety on a segment of Interstate 5 in Santa Clarita thanks to the completion of a $67 million project by Caltrans and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) that has extended the southbound I-5 truck lane and added mixed-flow lanes in both directions in this heavily traveled corridor.
  • “Bay Lights” gets offer of permanence from bridge officials. Amid the gloom of gathering storm clouds Wednesday, some good news shone through for aficionados of the “Bay Lights,” the ever-changing art installation on the San Francisco end of the Bay Bridge. The bridge’s official overseers, the Bay Area Toll Authority, gave its blessing to a proposal to reinstall the lights — in time for the January 2016 Super Bowl — as a permanent fixture on the four-tower suspension span.
  • New Lane Opens on State Route 57; Completion Event on Dec. 22. In late November, commuters began to enjoy a more efficient commute on State Route 57 (SR-57) when a new 3-mile northbound general-purpose lane opened between Katella and Lincoln Avenues in Anaheim. The $41 million project is the final segment of the SR-57 Northbound Widening Project, and improves a vital north-south link in Orange County
  • Bay Bridge light show will go on. There will be permanent, artistic lights at the end of the tunnel — the westbound tunnel of the Bay Bridge leading into San Francisco, that is — come 2016. After a two-month campaign, the nonprofit Illuminate the Arts announced Wednesday that it had raised the needed $4 million to reinstall the “Bay Lights” as a permanent fixture on the western end of the bridge. Billed as the world’s largest light sculpture, the display of 25,000 LED lights turns the 1.8-mile San Francisco portion of the span into a nightly show of constantly changing abstract images.
  • Bay Bridge light sculpture hits fundraising goal to shine on. The world’s largest LED light sculpture is destined to be on permanent display on the Bay Bridge after a fundraising campaign hit its $4 million goal. Illuminate the Arts, a nonprofit group, announced Wednesday it has raised the needed amount for new equipment and reinstallation of the 25,000 LED lights on the western span of the Bay Bridge. The largest chunk of money — $2 million — came from Peninsula philanthropist Tad Taube. Starting in early March, the lights must be removed so Caltrans can maintain and paint bridge cables. The lights will be put back up in time for Superbowl 50 on Feb 7, 2016, and given to the state.
  • Hollywood Hills residents angered by plan to close 101 offramp. A plan to permanently close a major offramp from the Hollywood Freeway to make way for an expansion of Universal Studios is fueling outrage from residents who say it will cut off their community. The southbound Barham Boulevard exit ramp near Universal City will be shut down — probably in the coming year — as part of NBCUniversal’s $1.6-billion project that includes the building of a Harry Potter-themed attraction.
  • NBCUniversal Permanently Closing 101 Freeway Offramp and the Neighbors Are Pissed. One of the less-discussed features of the massive NBCUniversal Evolution project, which will bring huge changes to Universal City and the surrounding area (including a giant Harry-Potter-themed attraction and hotels) is the permanent closure of the 101 South offramp at Barham Boulevard. A new southbound onramp will be built on Universal Studios Boulevard, which will send Universal Citywalkers right onto the freeway instead of routing them through the surrounding neighborhood, says the LA Times. So there will be less traffic in the area, but residents will have to get off the freeway one stop before or after the Barham exit, which sounds like it could be a little inconvenient. And since this is LA, naturally, there are residents who are proclaiming the closure “an abomination.”
  • Plans for problematic highway intersection call for roundabout or traffic signal . Drivers dread it, but some can’t avoid it. The intersection at Highways 121 and 116 in Schellville has been a traffic congestion nightmare for both visitors and residents of Sonoma and Napa. However, motorists have few alternatives when trying to pass through that part of Wine Country.
  • San Fernando Valley Prioritizes Freeways, Then Bemoans Lack of Transit . This seems to be the week that the news is that nothing happened in the San Fernando Valley. Last Thursday, SBLA reported that Metro Orange Line speed improvements are not happening yet. On Sunday, the Daily News ran a piece by Dakota Smith entitled, Lack of new San Fernando Valley rail lines draws complaints.