California Highway Headlines for January 2015

userpic=roadgeekingA new year. Let’s start it off with a bunch of new highway headlines:

  • Arroyo Seco Parkway At 70: The Unusual History Of The “Pasadena Freeway,” California Cycleway & Rare Traffic Plan Images . This Winter marks the 70th anniversary of the oldest freeway in the United States: The Arroyo Seco Parkway opened on December 30, 1940. Built during the Great Depression, construction of the parkway put a lot of people to work.
  • Lawsuit says NBCUniversal, Caltrans broke law in offramp closure. NBCUniversal and Caltrans broke state law by inadequately studying the environmental effect of a plan to close a major 101 Freeway offramp, according to a new lawsuit filed by residents. The southbound Barham Boulevard exit ramp is set to permanently close, probably in the coming year, as part of NBCUniversal’s $1.6-billion Evolution plan to expand its Universal Studios theme park.
  • More commuters look to Metro van pools as alternative to solo driving . Driving solo to work continues to define L.A.’s entrenched car culture. But commuters across the county are increasingly turning to alternatives such as the van pool, a venerable ride-sharing option that can reduce air pollution, travel times and transportation costs. At Metro, which administers the largest public van pool operation in North America, participation has more than doubled in the last six years, with a total of 1,375 van groups operating today. Officials expect that figure to grow by at least 8% in 2015.
  • Cajon Pass Commuter: Caltrans will widen, realign parts of 138. Next summer, Caltrans will be seeking bids on a $31 million project to widen and realign the two-lane highway, according to Caltrans Public Information Officer Tyeisha Prunty. Although it’s a widening project, it’s not exactly the type of widening you or I would probably wish for. I say if you’re going to do it, make it a four-lane road all the way from Lake Arrowhead Road to Interstate 15, figuring that as soon as the Tapestry Project in Summit Valley gets going we’re going to need additional lanes to support all the commuters who move into that area. Remember, that development is projected to add 19,000 housing units, so at least 50,000 — and probably many more — residents will be making the Summit Valley their home when the project is completed.
  • A Plan to Make Los Angeles’s Oldest Freeway Less Terrifying. The hairpin exits and abrupt onramps of the historic Arroyo Seco Parkway, that part of the 110 Freeway that runs north of Downtown, are collectively one of the scariest things about driving in Los Angeles. The 1940 freeway was the first in the western US and built for 27,000 cars a day moving at 1940 speeds; today it sees 122,000 cars a day (traveling at 2015 speeds). Rather than just accepting this fate, residents who live in areas adjacent to the freeway and the offending ramps have banded together to try and gather support for an idea (previously introduced by Caltrans) that would reserve the right lanes on both sides of the freeway just for drivers exiting or entering the parkway, says Eastsider LA. Here’s another article on the same subject.
  • Caltrans seeks public input on Last Chance Grade ideas. Caltrans is sharing ideas for potential ways to reroute U.S. Highway 101 with the public for the first time through a series of workshops. The workshops will be an opportunity for the public to provide input on a feasibility study that Caltrans is conducting in an attempt to find a long-term solution for the Last Chance Grade — a stretch of U.S. Highway 101 about 12 miles south of Crescent City that has been continually shifting throughout the years, causing catastrophically dangerous and expensive landslides.