🛣 Headlines About California Highways – August 2022

As I write this, we’re in the middle of a heat wave in Southern California. The heat, summer weather, and monsoon season has caused all sorts of problems in the southern part of the state, including significant road washouts in Death Valley, along I-15, and along I-10. But through it all… I’ve been collecting headlines.

I’ve also been working on the California Highways Route by Route podcast. Episodes 1.01 and 1.02 are up. Ep 1.01 covers the state highway system before 1920, and features an interview with Adam Prince. Ep 1.02 discussed the highway system in the 1920s, and features an interview with Joel Windmiller of the Lincoln Highway Association. Both are available through the podcast’s home page, our page on anchor.fm, or through your favorite podcaster. Please spread the word on the podcast, write a review, and like it in your favorite podcaster. I’d like to see the listenership grow: as I write this, we have (through anchor.fm) 57 listens to the sample episode, 58 listens to ep 1.01, but only 32 to episode 1.02. So keep spreading the word. I’ve got 1.03, which features a long interview with the archivist of the Auto Club of Southern California, edited. I’ll upload it in mid-September.

I’m still looking for folks to interview for upcoming episodes. If you can help us find people to talk to, that would be great. Just let me know (comment here, or email daniel -at caroutebyroute -dot org. Here’s the list for the rest of the first season in terms of what I’m wanting in regard to interviews: 🎙 1.04: Someone to talk on the 1956 Interstate Highway Bill 🎙 1.05: Someone to talk on the impact of Pat Brown on highway construction in California and/or the impact of the great renumbering 🎙 1.06: Someone to talk on the impact of the California EQA act on highway construction 🎙 1.07: Someone to talk on how the state numbers state highways — in particular, anything official on numbering patterns, or the rules for signing things 🎙 1.08: Here I’d like someone to talk on the role of AASHTO on numbering US highways 🎙 1.09: This is Interstate numbering, so again an expert on Interstates — either numbering, the federal aid highway acts, or the chargeable/non-chargeable distinction 🎙 1.10: This is numbering of county highways, so anyone from a county public works department on the signed route system 🎙 1.11: A state legislator on highway naming resolutions 🎙 1.12: Someone from the California Transportation Commission on the role of the commission.  We’re also looking for a better theme song, so if you know of someone willing to write some short pieces for the show that we can use for free, that would be great.

With respect to the main highway pages: I should start work on the August / September / October updates shortly after the headlines are up. I’ll feel better about starting those updates once I have some of the podcast interviews lined up (podcast scripts are written through 1.09).

Enough of this shameless self-promotion. Here are the headlines that I found about California’s highways for August:

Key

[Ħ Historical information |  Paywalls, $$ really obnoxious paywalls, and  other annoying restrictions. I’m no longer going to list the paper names, as I’m including them in the headlines now. Note: For paywalls, sometimes the only way is incognito mode, grabbing the text before the paywall shows, and pasting into an editor.]

Highway Headlines

  • Caltrans looking for feedback on Highway 46 widening project (KSBY NBC 6). Caltrans is continuing work to widen Highway 46, and they’re asking for the public’s input. The agency wants to hear from drivers, businesses, and people who live in Shandon and surrounding areas. The feedback will be used in the next phase of widening work. “Currently, we’re in the final phases of design for the Antelope Grade segment and what we’re trying to do is compile information from travelers and people in the area,” said Alexa Bertola, public information officer for Caltrans District 5.
  • Multiple Closures, Including Last U.S. Exit, on Eastbound SR-905 to Close Monday Night (Caltrans District 11). Caltrans crews will close Britannia Blvd off-ramp on Monday, August 8, from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. In addition, connectors from southbound SR-125 to eastbound SR-11 and eastbound SR-905 to eastbound SR-11 will close from August 9-11 from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. In addition, southbound SR-125 to eastbound SR-11 and eastbound SR-905 to eastbound SR-11 will close from August 9-11 from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. The project includes asphalt and pavement micro-surfacing, new thermoplastic striping, and upgraded wrong-way driver striping enhancements, at all ramps along SR-905 from San Ysidro to Otay Mesa, and will continue thru late September
  • Caltrans begins southbound expansion of Highway 99 (Turlock Journal). Caltrans District 10 has officially began the process of widening State Route 99 (SR-99) going southbound between Turlock and Livingston, adding a third lane for a nine-mile stretch. The southbound expansion is the second phase of a greater project that saw a similar highway widening going northbound from Livingston to Turlock, which took place from November 2019 to April 2021. The southbound widening will be completed within a similar timeframe, beginning this week with an expected finish in January 2024. Funds for the southbound project construction were designated in the 2018 State Transportation Improvement Program.
  • Upcoming construction work on SR-1 between Ledroit St. and Cajon St. (Orange County Breeze). The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is scheduled to resume work on Coast Highway (SR-1) between Ledroit St. and Cajon St. in the City of Laguna Beach. Construction is expected to begin Wednesday, August 10, 2022, through Thursday, September 1, 2022. The work will take place Monday through Friday nightly from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Changeable Message Signs will be in place to notify motorists and residents of the upcoming work. Please note that noise from construction equipment during concrete pours or asphalt paving should be expected. This work, which started last Fall, is part of the Coast Highway ADA Sidewalk Improvement Project that will make the pedestrian routes along Coast Highway within the project limits ADA compliant. Construction will continue in the City of Laguna Beach at various locations between Ledroit St. and Ruby St.
  • Officials celebrate new freeway sound walls on 170 for NoHo and nearby neighborhoods (Metro – The Source). Metro today joined the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and other local and state officials to announce the completion of 5.4 miles of new sound walls along State Route 170 and Interstate 405 in the North Hollywood area of Los Angeles. The new $103-million sound wall project will bring freeway noise relief to the residents of North Hollywood, Valley Glen and Valley Village. Sound walls were completed specifically along State Route 170, from US 101 to Sherman Way, and along Interstate 405 from Saticoy Avenue to Roscoe Boulevard. The project also included the widening of eight bridges to support the sound walls without widening the lanes.

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🛣 Changes to the California Highway Website covering May – July 2022

This update covers the remainder of May that wasn’t covered in the April update, plus June and July. This took a bit longer, because I’ve also been working on getting our new podcast, California Highways: Route by Route up and running. You can visit the podcast’s forever home at https://www.caroutebyroute.org/ , or the show’s page on anchor.fm. A full sample episode and the first full episode (covering the history of California Highways through 1920) are already up. The next episode will be up shortly after these updates. Subscribe to the podcast in your favorite podcasting app or by using the RSS feed. Just search for “California Highways” and look for our logo. The podcast is a joint effort between me and Tom Fearer of Gribblenation. Our plan is to include interviews in each episode. Episode 1.01 includes an interview with Adam Prince on the Good Roads movement, and episode 1.02 will feature Joel Windmiller of the Lincoln Highway Association on the initial set of US highways in California. We’re looking for interviews for the remaining set of Season 1 episodes, as indicated. If you’ve got a lead on a speaker, please let me know.

  • California Highways Route by Route Podcast1.03: Building a State Highway System: The 1930s: An expert on the role of the Auto Club in signing highways
  • 1.04: Building a State Highway System: Expanding the System: Someone to talk on the 1956 Interstate Highway Bill
  • 1.05: Building a State Highway System: The Great Renumbering and New Freeways: Someone to talk on the construction boom of the 1960s and/or the impact of the great renumbering.
  • 1.06: Building a State Highway System: CEPA and Reality: Someone to talk on the impact of the California EPA act on highway construction
  • 1.07: Highway Numbering: State Highways: Someone to talk on how the state numbers state highways — in particular, anything official on numbering patterns, or the rules for signing things.
  • 1.08: Highway Numbering: US Highways: Here I’d like someone to talk on the role of AASHTO on numbering US highways
  • 1.09: Highway Numbering: Interstates: This is Interstate numbering, so again an expert on Interstates — either numbering, the federal aid highway acts, or the chargeable/non-chargeable distinction
  • 1.10: Highway Numbering: County Routes: This is numbering of county highways, so anyone from a county public works department on the signed route system
  • 1.11: The Naming of Highways: A state legislator on highway naming resolutions
  • 1.12: The Organizations of State Highways: Someone from the California Transportation Commission on the role of the commission.

Updates were made to the following highways, based on my reading of the (virtual) papers in May, June, and July 2022 (which are posted to the roadgeeking category at the “Observations Along The Road” and to the California Highways Facebook group) as well as any backed up email changes. I also reviewed the the AAroads forum (Ꜳ). This resulted in changes on the following routes, with credit as indicated [my research(ℱ), contributions of information or leads (via direct mail or ꜲRoads) from Gary Ansok(2)Concrete Bob(3), Gretl Davis(4), Paul DeRocco (pderocco)(5), Tom Fearer(6), Andy Field(7), Richard Lyon(8), Glen Norman(9)Plutonic Panda(10), Chris Sampang(11): Route 1(ℱ), Route 4(ℱ), I-5(ℱ), I-10(ℱ), Route 11(ℱ), Route 12(ℱ), Route 17(ℱ), Route 25(ℱ), Route 29(ℱ), Route 33(6), Route 35(ℱ), Route 37(ℱ), Route 41(ℱ), Route 55(ℱ), Route 58(7), Route 59(ℱ), US 66(6), Route 71(11), LRN 77(ℱ), LRN 78(ℱ), I-80(ℱ,4), US 80(6), Route 83(6), Route 90(6), Route 98(ℱ), Route 99(ℱ,6), US 101(ℱ,6), Route 120(ℱ), Route 125(ℱ), Route 140(ℱ), Route 148(3), Route 156(ℱ), Route 162(ℱ), Route 190(ℱ), Route 194(6),  I-205(ℱ), Route 206(6), Route 209(6), Route 212(6), Route 221(ℱ), Route 228(6), Route 236(ℱ), Route 262(9), Route 275(ℱ), Route 330(6), US 395(ℱ,5), Route 480(ℱ,6),  I-680(ℱ), I-710(ℱ,6,10), Route 905(ℱ), County Sign Route E9(8), County Sign Route G2(2).
(Source: private email, Highway headline posts through the July Headline post, AARoads through July 25, 2022)

Added a link to a crowdsourced map on the El Camino Real Bells. H/T to J. Scott Hayden for the link.

Reviewed the Pending Legislation page, based on the California Legislature site. As usual, I recommend to every Californian that they visit the legislative website regularly and see what their legis-critters are doing. As many people are unfamiliar with how the legislature operates (and why there are so many “non-substantive changes” and “gut and amend” bills), I’ve added the legislative calendar to the end of the Pending Legislation page. The following bills made it out of the process:

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🛣 Headlines About California Highways – July 2022

Sorry for the delay in getting the July headlines up. I’ve been trying to get a set up updates to California Highways done, and had to finish working through the California Transportation Commission minutes before I could start on the headlines. I’ve also been trying to get the podcast going — more on that in a minute. So now I can turn my attention to the headlines from July.

But first, the California Highways Route by Route podcast. We have our first regular episode up, but still needs some more listens to catch up with the full sample episode. Anchor shows 51 listens to the sample (0.02), and 39 to the first episode (1.01). Please do your part. Subscribe in your favorite podcatcher, add our RSS feed, or listen through one of the Anchor feeds. The second episode is recorded and awaiting editing, and we’re planning on recording more soon. Subscribe now so you don’t miss a single episode.

We’re also plotting out the year. We need some good interview subjects, or leads for interviews. If you can help us find people to talk to, that would be great. Just let me know (comment here, or email daniel -at caroutebyroute -dot org. Here’s the list for the rest of the first season in terms of what I’m wanting in regard to interviews:

  • 1.03: An expert on the role of the Auto Club in signing highways
  • 1.04: Someone to talk on the 1956 Interstate Highway Bill
  • 1.05: Someone to talk on the construction boom of the 1960s and/or the impact of the great renumbering.
  • 1.06: Someone to talk on the impact of the California EPA act on highway construction
  • 1.07: Someone to talk on how the state numbers state highways — in particular, anything official on numbering patterns, or the rules for signing things.
  • 1.08: Here I’d like someone to talk on the role of AASHTO on numbering US highways
  • 1.09: This is Interstate numbering, so again an expert on Interstates — either numbering, the federal aid highway acts, or the chargeable/non-chargeable distinction
  • 1.10: This is numbering of county highways, so anyone from a county public works department on the signed route system
  • 1.11: A state legislator on highway naming resolutions
  • 1.12: Someone from the California Transportation Commission on the role of the commission.

We’re also looking for a better theme song, so if you know of someone willing to write some short pieces for the show that we can use for free, that would be great.

During July, I explored some of the desert highways: Route 62, Route 74, Route 111, Route 86. Where have you been exploring?

But you care about the headlines. So here are the headlines about California’s highways for July. The headline list seems to be getting smaller–I’m finding less articles about significant road work (I’m not that interested in simple resurfacing), and more articles about transit and rail. I think that’s the direction things are going currently: increase the number of people per vehicle on current roads (as opposed to capacity for more vehicles), and increase broader transit options. But here’s what I found:

Key

[Ħ Historical information |  Paywalls, $$ really obnoxious paywalls, and  other annoying restrictions. I’m no longer going to list the paper names, as I’m including them in the headlines now. Note: For paywalls, sometimes the only way is incognito mode, grabbing the text before the paywall shows, and pasting into an editor. ]

Highway Headlines

  • Freeway marker honors late Fil-Am leader Alice Bulos (Inquirer.Net). Elizabeth Bulos Ramilo was driving to work on the morning of June 27 when a road sign grabbed her attention: ALICE PEÑA BULOS MEMORIAL FREEWAY. Ramilo had long known of state and local officials‘ efforts to honor her mother in perpetuity, but she was unaware the sign already had been installed on Skyline Boulevard. The South San Francisco resident said she was elated near tears to see the memorialization fulfilled.
  • California allocates more than $3 billion for transportation infrastructure (Orange County Breeze). The California Transportation Commission (CTC) allocated more than $3 billion to repair and improve transportation infrastructure throughout the state, including $1.3 billion in funding from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to support local projects and to protect local roads and bridges from extreme weather and natural disasters. Senate Bill (SB) 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, accounts for more than $930 million of the total funding. “The CTC’s decision to invest in our state highways while protecting city and county infrastructure will help make California’s roadways safer and more resilient one shovel, one project and one community at a time,” said Caltrans Director Tony Tavares. Projects approved in District 12 include:
  • Caltrans to stabilize eroded Highway 17 slope near Scotts Valley (East Bay Times). Millions in state transportation funds have been allocated to stabilize a slope on Highway 17 near Scotts Valley that eroded during a series of heavy rainstorms more than five years ago. The California Transportation Commission, as part of a $3 billion infrastructure package, has committed $4.4 million to the project located half a mile south of Sugarloaf Road near Scotts Valley. Caltrans has been the lead agency in designing repairs and after the project is put out to bid, it will administer construction which is planned to begin in December, according to Caltrans Spokesperson Kevin Drabinski.
  • Richards Boulevard / I-80 Interchange Improvements (City of Davis). This project will improve traffic operations and multimodal safety at the interchange by reconfiguring the ramps and adding a grade separated shared-use path. This project has existed in concept for many years, and has been working in parallel with the Caltrans Managed Lanes Project. The project will reconfigure the existing west bound I-80 on ramp, and off ramps to a “tight diamond” interchange, and construct a grade separated multi use path to cross the Richards Boulevard overpass. There will also be intersection improvements at Richards Boulevard, and Olive Drive, Eastbound I-80, and Research Park Drive. Once the “tight diamond” interchange improvements are complete, the project will permanently close the Westbound I-80 off ramp to Olive Drive.
  • Here comes Soscol Junction, Napa County’s biggest road project in years (Napa Valley Register). Drivers, prepare for the Soscol Junction Experience. This isn’t an amusement park ride. It’s Napa County’s largest road project in years, one that will turn a major, traffic-clogged intersection into a $54 million interchange, with construction to begin the week of July 18. Soscol Junction is where Highway 29, Highway 221 and Soscol Ferry Road converge near the Butler Bridge and Grapecrusher statue. It’s an entrance to Napa Valley’s world-famous wine country and a nerve center of the regional road system. It’s also a place where drivers might curse a congestion-creating traffic signal. The Soscol Junction project is designed to remove that signal and cut rush-hour delays there from several minutes to a matter of seconds. Drivers over the next few years will see dump trucks and bulldozers reshape the landscape. They’ll see Highway 29 elevated and made free-flowing. They’ll see two roundabouts created underneath to regulate Highway 221 and Soscol Ferry Road traffic.
  • Marin highway flooding projects get $30M from state (Marin I-J). As sea-level rise and flooding threaten to cut off Marin City from emergency services and block one of the busiest North Bay highways, the state Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom have allocated $30 million in the state budget to begin planning for defenses. The budget adopted on Tuesday provides $20 million to begin designing flood protections on Highway 37 and the Novato Creek Bridge. Another $10 million is for planning defenses for recurring flooding on Highway 101 that blocks the only road in and out of Marin City. “Living here in Marin we already know what our future looks like with the climate crisis,” said state Sen. Mike McGuire, who sits on the Senate transportation and budget committees. “Marin County is home to some of the most vulnerable highway corridors in the state.” Highway 37, the 21-mile link between Interstate 80 and Highway 101 near Novato, is used daily by nearly 50,000 commuters, many of them making their way to jobs in the North Bay.

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🎭 Summer Theatre Shorts: Pretty Women, Moulin Rouge, DEH, Newsies, and Freestyle Love

This has been a busy but strange summer. The combination of my Cholesteatoma, getting the podcast off the ground, working on the highway pages, and taking care of my wife has left my weekends pretty full. I’ve seen a bunch of shows over the end of June and into July, but haven’t had the time to do the full write ups of the show (in case you didn’t know, each writeup — including all the linking to the people involved — takes 3-4 hours). So I decided, while I was on vacation this week, to do some shorter write ups of the shows. These will get across my general impressions of the shows and perhaps highlight a performer or three, but they won’t list all of the folks involved. I’ll try to include a link to the programs for the shows, which these days are often online.

So, with that said, let’s begin:

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🛣 Headlines About California Highways – June 2022 Supplemental

Have you ever wondered how I assemble these posts. I scan the headlines, sure, but then I bookmark them in my browser. Sometimes that is on my home machine, sometime at work.  I use a tool called Eversync to keep the bookmarks in the two browsers synchronized. Well, when I signed into work today, I discovered a whole bunch of links hadn’t been synchronized. They don’t appear to be from May or June (although a few are from July). So let’s do a catchup post of what the synchronizer missed.

Key

[Ħ Historical information |  Paywalls, $$ really obnoxious paywalls, and  other annoying restrictions. I’m no longer going to list the paper names, as I’m including them in the headlines now. Note: For paywalls, sometimes the only way is incognito mode, grabbing the text before the paywall shows, and pasting into an editor. ]

Highway Headlines

  • It took decades, but the 5 Freeway from La Mirada to Santa Fe Springs now has 10 lanes (Whittier Daily News). More than 30 years in the making, the 5 Freeway now has 10 lanes — up from six — from the Orange County border to the 605 Freeway. Caltrans on Thursday, June 30, opened a carpool and a regular lane northbound from the Orange county line in La Mirada to Alondra Boulevard in Santa Fe Springs. This is the final segment of the $1.9 billion widening project that began late in 2011 with the Carmenita Road interchange. Discussions actually date back to 1989 when Caltrans originally proposed widening to 12 or 14 lanes that then would have taken three Santa Fe Springs council members’ homes as well as a then-proposed auto row. Neither ever happened.
  • Newsom announces freeway camera funding (KRON4). Amid a spate of freeway shootings, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced funding for a pilot program to strategically install some 200 closed-circuit television cameras on the state’s freeways, including at locations in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, according to a press release. “We are committed to ensuring the safety of our highways throughout California and to holding individuals accountable for brazen acts of violence perpetrated on our freeways,” Newsom stated. “Advanced CCTV cameras will serve to improve traffic safety and act as a tool to assist CHP with incredibly complex and in-depth investigations. We’re doubling down on our public safety investments and partnerships with law enforcement officials up and down the state to ensure Californians feel safe in their communities.”
  • California invests $700 million in transportation infrastructure (Action News). Hundreds of millions of dollars has been approved for infrastructure improvements to roads and bridges in Northern California and throughout the state. The California Transportation Commission (CTC) allocated $700 million for the work. More than a third of that, $272 million, comes from Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. Projects approved in [Butte, Lassen, Trinity, Shasta, etc.] include:
  • Kiewit Tackles Draining, Grading Issues On I-80 in California (Construction Equipment Guide). Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. started work on the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the Solano Transportation Authority’s (STA) $93.7 million Interstate 80, Interstate 680 and State Route 12 Interchange Project 2A in August 2020 — an initiative that is improving and widening the eastbound SR 12 to EB I-80 connector in the I-80 corridor, as well as improving the connectivity between regionally significant destinations.
  • California Consulting Releases Municipal Grants for May 2022 (California City News). Within each topic section, grants are listed in order by deadline and those which are due continuously. If you are interested in any of the listed opportunities, please contact your Project Manager for more information or to begin your application today!

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🛣 Headlines About California Highways – June 2022

We’re now half way through 2022, and boy what a year it has been so far for almost anything but the highway. Highway news, if I perceive things right, has been lighter this year. You can see for yourself: just jump down to the headlines after my introductory prather.

As I said: It’s been a year so far. The news about COVID has been pushed to the background, but the disease is still around creating havoc. More folks I know are getting the disease; luckily being double-vaxed double-boosted is making it less severe. We’ve had the findings of the Jan 6 commission, which are gobsmacking, to say the least. We’ve had the decisions of the Supreme Court, which are equally gobsmacking. As Pete Seeger sang, “There is mean things happening in this land…”

But closer to home, it’s also been a year. I’ve got a cholesteatoma in my ear, meaning it is constantly stuffed and distracting (surgery looks to be early August). My wife is still dealing with being in a wheelchair after her fall last November; progress is slow. Weekends have been busy with theatre, and Tom has been busy with other stuff, so we haven’t had the chance to record more podcast episodes yet. We’re still looking for music for the show, and we’re also looking for experts for brief interviews related to episode topics.

So June has been a whirlwind. July may not be much better, with theatre every weekend and a week’s vacation.

But you don’t care about any of that, do you. You care about the headlines. So here are the headlines about California’s highways for June. The headline list seems to be getting smaller–I’m finding less articles about significant road work (I’m not that interested in simple resurfacing), and more articles about transit and rail. I think that’s the direction things are going currently: increase the number of people per vehicle on current roads (as opposed to capacity for more vehicles), and increase broader transit options. But here’s what I found:

Key

[Ħ Historical information |  Paywalls, $$ really obnoxious paywalls, and  other annoying restrictions. I’m no longer going to list the paper names, as I’m including them in the headlines now. Note: For paywalls, sometimes the only way is incognito mode, grabbing the text before the paywall shows, and pasting into an editor. ]

Highway Headlines

  • Routes 25 and 156 Roundabout (FB). Construction begins May 31 on Highway 25/156 roundabout. Construction of a roundabout at the intersection of State Routes 25 and 156 will begin May 31—immediately following the Memorial Day holiday, according to the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).
  • $2.3B Union Station makeover takes another step forward (Urbanize LA). In a vote taken last week, the Metro Board of Directors approved a funding agreement with California High Speed Rail Authority for the initial phase of Union Station’s $2.3-billion makeover and expansion. The project, called Link Union Station, expands upon a longtime plan to construct run-through tracks at the southern end of the passenger rail hub, allowing trains to cross over the US-101 freeway. This would eliminate Union Station’s historic stub-end layout, which forces all trains to enter and exit through the five-track throat to the north of the station platforms.
  • You may commute over one of these structurally deficient bridges in California (KTLA). A recent inventory by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association took a look at structurally deficient bridges in California. Bad news is … there are a lot. The ARTBA, a trade group that represents road construction workers, said in its 2022 report that 5.8% of California’s bridges can be categorized as “structurally deficient.” That’s 1,493 bridges according to the group. And these aren’t bridges along dusty roads or in rural parts of the state. Many of the structurally deficient bridges get hundreds of thousands of crossing every day, according to the ARTBA.
  • Dr. Sally Ride Memorial Highway (FB). It was my honor to recognize the historic achievements, and Valley roots, of Dr. Sally Ride at today’s Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel dedication of a portion of the 101 as the “Dr. Sally Ride Memorial Highway”.
  • The ghosts of L.A.’s unbuilt freeways (Los Angeles Times). Maybe you can hear them whispering, as your tires hiss along freeway concrete: the almost-weres, the might-have-beens, the freeway ghosts of Los Angeles, the thoroughfares dreamed up, planned for, but never built. There are more — oh, so many more — than you might have wished or feared, even in the cloverleaf heart of Freeway L.A. The Whitnall Freeway, the Industrial Freeway, the Temescal Freeway, the Laurel and Topanga and Malibu Canyon freeways, the Sierra Freeway, and the legendary Beverly Hills Freeway, discarded like an unproduced screenplay when such stars as Lucille Ball and Rosalind Russell gave it a big N-O.
  • Caltrans gets $35 million to add bike lanes, replace traffic lights along PCH stretch (Orange County Register). From replacing traffic signals to constructing new bike lanes meant to keep cyclists safe, a handful of transportation upgrades are planned along Pacific Coast Highway from Newport Beach to the Orange-Los Angeles county line. Nearly $40 million was recently announced for the improvements. The Caltrans district in Orange County is expected to begin work starting next year on the projects that will span more than 20 miles of the scenic highway.

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🎭 Returning to the Rock | “Come From Away” @ Ahmanson Theatre

Come From Away (2022 - Ahmanson)One of my wife’s favorite shows is Come From Away. We first saw it at the Ahmanson back in 2018. She loves the music, she loves the message, she loves the humor. So when it appeared as a bonus show in the Ahmanson 2020-2021 season, we planned to go. Then COVID hit. Luckily, it was in the reworked Ahmanson 2021-2022 season  We saw it last night. The magic is still there.

Seeing a show for a second time is much easier for me. This is especially true when about 70% of the cast and orchestra are the same. I can just point you to the previous writeup, and provide a few updates.

The story is unchanged. For those unfamiliar, this is the story of the community of Gander Newfoundland, which doubled in size when 9/11 occurred and planes from all over the world were diverted there. Come From Away (CFA) is the story of the people of Gander, and the people on the planes. It is a remarkably uplifting story that leaves you feeling good.

[And just like last time we saw this, it is paired with Dear Even Hansen (DEH). Last time, DEH is before; this time it follows. DEH, although popular, is much more problematic. CFA is centered around a tragedy, and how people find hope and family in it. DEH is centered around a lie, and how the hope from that lie eventually comes crashing down. I much prefer CFA.

The cast is essentially the same as the 2018 touring company. Here’s a paste of my cast list then, with changes noted:

*: At our performance, we had Kilty Reidy (IG, TW) swinging into this role.

Swings were: Jenny Ashman (IG, TW); Julie Garnyé (★FBTW)Marika Aubrey (★FBTW) [Moved to Principal]; Jane Bunting (FB), Amelia Cormak (IG), Adam Halpin (TW)Michael Brian Dunn (FB), and Aaron Michael Ray (FBTW), Kilty Reidy (IG, TW), and Brandon Springman (IG, TW).

As you can see, the bulk of the cast was the same. Performances were excellent from the ensemble.

Much of the on-stage orchestra was the same as well. Again, here’s a diff from 2018:

The band consisted of: Cynthia Kortman Westphal (FB) Cameron Moncur [Music Director, Conductor, Keyboard, Accordion, Harmonium]; Isaac Alderson (FB) [Whistles, Irish Flute, Uilleann Pipes]; Kiana June Weber (★FB) [Fiddle]; Adam Stoler (FB) Billy Bivona (IG, FB) [Electric / Acoustic Guitar]; Matt Wong (FB) Martin Howley (IG) [Acoustic Guitar, Mandolins, Bouzouki]; Max Calkin (FB) Sean Rubin (FB) [Electric / Acoustic Bass]; Steve Holloway (FB) [Bodhran, Percussion]; and Ben Morrow (FB) [Drums / Percussion].

As with the actors, much of the band is the same. However, I’d say that this time the band has gotten stronger. I hadn’t realized last time that Kiana June Weber (★FB) was part of one of my favorite Celtic groups: Gaelic Storm. She’s married to orchestra-mate Martin Howley (IG), who is new for 2022 and is one of the long-time members of the Celtic band We Banjo 3 — another favorite group.  Isaac Alderson (FB) is also part of the Celtic music scene, being part of the band The Yanks. Steve Holloway (FB) also plays on loads of Celtic albums. So this touring band has loads of Celtic talent, which they show off during numbers such as “Screech In” and the jam session after the final bows. This is one of those rare shows when I can say that you should see the show not only for the great story and great performances, but for the rocking Celtic band!

Production, design, and the supporting team (stage mangers) are unchanged from 2018.

Come From Away  is at  the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) for only one more week (it closes June 12). Go see it — you’ll be uplifted by this show, and will love the music. Tickets are available through the Ahmanson Box Office. Discount tickets may be available through Goldstar.

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre (or music) critic; I am, however, a regular theatre and music audience member (modulo the COVID break). I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted (or I’ll make a donation to the theatre, in lieu of payment). I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at Actors Co-op (FB), 5 Star Theatricals (FB), Broadway in Hollywood (FB), the Ahmanson Theatre (FB), and we have a membership at The Pasadena Playhouse (FB). We were subscribing at the Musical Theatre Guild (FB) prior to COVID; they have not yet resumed productions. We have also been subscribers at the Soraya/VPAC (FB), although we are waiting a year before we pick that up again. Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals). I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups. Note to publicists or producers reading this: here’s my policy on taking comp tickets. Bottom-Line: Only for things of nominal value, like Fringe.

Upcoming Shows:

For right now, we’re pretty much sticking with shows that come as part of our subscriptions or are of interest through our memberships. That may change later in 2022. The remainder of June sees Pretty Woman at Broadway in Hollywood (FB), as well as Tom Paxon at McCabes. I thought we might make the Hollywood Fringe Festival , but with my ear problems and Karen being in a wheelchair — plus fuel costs — we’re missing it this year. July brings Moulin Rouge at Broadway in Hollywood (FB) [Pantages], Dear Evan Hansen at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB), Newsies at 5 Star Theatricals (FB), and Freestyle Love Supreme back at The Pasadena Playhouse (FB). August is quieter, with just The Prom at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). Lastly (for this look ahead), September brings Oklahoma the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) and Jagged Little Pill at Broadway in Hollywood (FB), although they are on the same day so I’ll be shifting one show. September may also bring Andrew Lippa’s version of The Wild Party at the Morgan Wixson Theatre. This was a show I had been planning to see before the COVID shutdown, so I’m putting it in the “part of our subscriptions” list. There may also be some Hollywood Bowl stuff, depending on how my wife is doing.

As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Better-LemonsFootlights, as well as productions I see on GoldstarOn Stage 411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget (although I know it is outdated and need to update it). Want to learn about all the great theatre in Southern California? Read my post on how Los Angeles (and its environs) is the best area for theatre in the Country (again, I need to review this for the post-COVID theatre landscape)!

 

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🛣 Headlines About California Highways – May 2022

Another month comes to an end, and that means it is time for headlines. But before I jump into the headlines, I want to highlight a few other notable things that have happened over the last month:

  • Tom Fearer of Gribblenation and I have started a podcast on California Highways. It is called California Highways: Route by Route and you can find our first full sample episode at the episode’s page on caroutebyroute.org, on the episode’s page at Anchor.FM; or an almost all major podcast platforms. This sample episode is about Route 105. We hope to start Season 1 sometime in late June.
  • The latest updates to the California Highways web page are up. This includes the review of the SHOPP and the STIP, as well as some interesting upcoming legislation.
  • The primary elections in California are less than two weeks away. I believe in being an informed voter, and so examine every candidate on my sample ballot, and write up a summary. This election, this process took me almost 20 hours to do. You can find my summary here; it links to the other pages where I go through all the candidates that led to my decision. I don’t ask (or expect) you’ll agree with my conclusions, but perhaps my research will help you be better informed. What’s most important, however, is that you VOTE. Voting affects the highways and our state in so many ways, and this is your chance to influence the process.

May has been a tiring and stressful month for me. I’ve been dealing with medical problems for me and the continued recovery of my wife from a fall last November; and I’ve had loads of writing projects (the election, podcast, and highway pages as noted above, plus a number of theatre reviews). I’ve had little time to destress, and my main avenue of de-stressing (listening to music) is impacted by the medical problem (ear issues). Let’s hope things go better in June.

But you don’t care about any of that, do you. You care about the headlines. So here are the headlines about California’s highways for May. The headline list seems to be getting smaller–I’m finding less articles about significant road work (I’m not that interested in simple resurfacing), and more articles about transit and rail. I think that’s the direction things are going currently: increase the number of people per vehicle on current roads (as opposed to capacity for more vehicles), and increase broader transit options. But here’s what I found:

Key

[Ħ Historical information |  Paywalls, $$ really obnoxious paywalls, and  other annoying restrictions. I’m no longer going to list the paper names, as I’m including them in the headlines now. Note: For paywalls, sometimes the only way is incognito mode, grabbing the text before the paywall shows, and pasting into an editor. ]

Highway Headlines

  • I-15 Exit Ramps At Clinton Keith Getting Wrong-Way Driver Prevention (Lake Elsinore, CA Patch). In an effort to prevent wrong-way driver crashes on Inland Empire freeways, Caltrans District 8 has identified priority exit ramps that need attention, and Clinton Keith Road at Interstate 15 in Wildomar is on the list. On Tuesday, the north- and southbound Clinton Keith Road offramps will be closed at I-15 so that Caltrans crews can install wrong-way prevention “enhancements,” according to the state agency.
  • Wildlife Undercrossing In Santa Cruz Breaks Ground (Santa Cruz, CA Patch). A project is now underway that will create a wildlife undercrossing beneath state Highway 17 to provide a route for mountain lions and other wildlife to travel safely between two large areas of habitat — both of which are separated by four lanes of the busy traffic corridor. Groundbreaking took place Friday for the Laurel Curve Wildlife Undercrossing in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It will connect 460 acres of land on both sides of Highway 17 that has been preserved in a conservation easement by the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County.
  • Last two-lane stretches of Highway 70 now being widened to four lanes (Chico Enterprise-Record). When roadwork currently underway on Highway 70 is complete, Chico will no longer be the largest city in California that isn’t accessed by a four-lane highway. While Highway 70 still has to wind through Marysville, the two projects running north and south from the Yuba/Butte county line will wrap up 16 years of work, costing in excess of $500 million. “I’m really glad it’s being done,” said Butte County Supervisor Bill Connelly. “I look forward to getting our people in and out of town and down to Sacramento safely.”
  • California Allocates More Than Half Billion Dollars for Projects (Construction Equipment Guide). Senate Bill (SB) 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, accounts for $317 million, more than half of the funding. “The CTC’s welcome decision to green light more than half a billion dollars to maintain and repair California’s aging transportation infrastructure is not only in keeping with our time-tested “fix-it-first” strategy, but also represents another big step to build and maintain a transportation system that serves all who travel in California, whether by foot, bicycle, bus, train or automobile,” said Steven Keck, acting director of Caltrans. Projects that were recently approved include:
  • Hwy 1 Toro Creek Bridge to be replaced near Morro Bay (San Luis Obispo Tribune). Drivers and cyclists, get ready for another lengthy construction project on busy Highway 1, this one replacing the northbound lanes of the Toro Creek Bridge. The two-span, ocean-view bridge is near the Dog Beach area north of the Morro Bay strand area, and about a half mile south of Old Creek Road. Traffic on the scenic highway will be reduced to a single lane in each direction during the two-phase project, which is expected to continue into the spring of 2023. Signs will notify drivers and cyclists about the changes; detours will be established for bicyclists.
    Pasadena and Caltrans Reach Agreement to Relinquish 710 Freeway Stub to City (Streetsblog Los Angeles). When I worked for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign a decade and a half ago, my boss used to tell me that a proposed freeway project was never really dead; that the best we could do is defund it and make it politically unpalatable to bring back. I learned this lesson the hard way when a New Jersey road project I helped get defunded was presumed “dead,” then was revived and built with funding from the Obama-era American Rescue and Recovery Act. But if the 710 Freeway “gap” project, which Streetsblog readers voted to dub the “Big Dig” over a decade ago may finally be dead enough that it can’t rise and terrorize residents of Los Angeles, Pasadena and South Pasadena. The North 710 Freeway project was slated to spend $6+ billion dollars for tunnels under these cities, until overwhelming opposition led the Metro board to cancel the project back in 2017.

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