Thu, 04 Mar 2004top
the road to CHLA
On the way to work in the morning, I've opted to take a street that has four names, maybe five depending on which way you believe it goes. Maybe even six.
So it starts off as Brand Blvd. in Glendale—essentially it is Glendale's main north-south artery. It then enters Los Angeles at Atwater Village, where it turns into Glendale Blvd. As it crosses the L.A. River, it actually splits up. If you stay in the thru-traffic lanes, it becomes Hyperion Ave, which is the way I take. (The off-ramp passes under the cool old-style bridge and continues as Glendale Blvd., eventually leading to Downtown L.A. I'm hesistant to call Glendale Blvd. a contiguous route, because of all the turns you have to make to stay on it. But if you accept that Brand Blvd. is contiguous with Glendale Blvd., and Glendale Blvd. runs straight through despite having to take a ramp off of Hyperion Ave, then having to turn left at the intersection with Rowena Ave., and then there's that questionable fork where the road splits off into Fletcher Ave. on the left and Glendale Blvd. on the right, from there on out, Glendale Blvd. essentially merges into 2nd St., thereby connecting the central business districts of Glendale and L.A. This is also, incidentally, the route of an old Red Car trolley line, evidenced by the fact that Brand Blvd. is so wide that the parking spots are perpendicular to the street, rather than the usual parallel to the curbside, and that a huge median runs down Glendale Blvd. through Atwater Village as well as in Echo Park. I kind of wonder what route the trolley took at the Hyperion/Glendale splitoff, and how it ran through Silver Lake. But eventually the line continued underground where Glendale Blvd. intersects with Beverly Blvd., 1st St., and 2nd St., terminating at the Subway Building in Downtown L.A.) Anyway, Hyperion Ave. winds through this area intermediate between Silver Lake and Los Feliz, and eventually turns into Fountain Ave. Fountain essentially splits off into Myra Ave. if you turn left, and stays as Fountain if you go straight. Fountain Ave. past this intersection, however, is a minor two-lane street, whereas Myra Ave. is much wider, especially when considering how much less traffic it used to carry. Myra passes underneath Sunset Blvd. and eventually merges with Santa Monica Blvd. (old US 66)
Thu, 30 Oct 2003top
I remember the first time I saw the interstate highway shield with "238" in it and recoiled in horror. I am, much to my dismay, a roadgeek. I have been obsessed with freeways and freeway numbering schemes since I was a little child. (If I had only known that transportation engineering was a career option, my life would've have been so different. See, this is what happens when you grow up in a freeway-dependent city like Los Angeles.)
If you don't care about freeways and freeway numbering scheme, I suggest you skip this blog post. Seriously.
For the rest of you, I'm going to assume that you are also road geeks, and are therefore well-versed in the Interstate Highway numbering system, and are therefore aware why I-238 keeps some roadgeeks awake at night. The horror, the horror.
Much has already been written about why I-238 came into existence. (C'mon now, even the most non-roadgeeky of you Bay Area folk must be curious as to why every freaking freeway is numbered x80, where x is anywhere between 2 to 9.) And, I agree, renumbering I-238 is probably not high on the list of things to do for Caltrans. But, because I spent a month driving past the I-880/I-238 interchange (and even drove on I-238 on my way to Southern California), I spent a lot of time stuck in traffic, contemplating trivial things.
So, without further ado: additional suggestions for renumbering I-238
The simplest thing would be to just renumber it I-480. While I-480 was the intended numbering for the ill-fated Embarcadero Freeway in San Francisco, it was never approved as an interstate (therefore remained signed as CA-480), and was eventually demolished after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Most San Franciscans loathed the looming structure and many rejoiced when it was torn down. I must say, the Embarcadero is much nicer now that you can see the East Bay. But, being an Angeleno, it is still difficult for me to fathom why San Franciscans hate freeways so much. To each his/her own, I suppose. But in any case, I-480 is actually free to use now, and since I-238 has like one exit, this would be the easiest way to re-sign everything. (I realize you'd have to change all the anticipatory signs on I-880 and I-580, but you could very well just remove the I-238 shield anyway, since practically all the signs are cosigned with either I-880 or I-580.)
There is, I think, a much worse signage problem further north in the East Bay, where I-80 and I-580 are co-signed. Now, I-580 between US-101 and I-80 was originally CA-17. I must assume that I-880 North (former CA-17) must have had a ramp to I-80 East (although it's not always logical to be logical), but, since the aforementioned Loma Prieta quake destroyed the Cypress Freeway alignment of the I-880 (and killed around 50 people as well), the rebuilt alignment only has a ramp to I-80 West. So it would be weird to number the San Rafael-Richmond bridge to I-880 at this point, and I think it would be prohibitive and redundant to build a ramp from I-880 North to I-80 East. So the signage problem is thus: There is a segment of freeway cosigned I-80 and I-580 between the Bay Bridge and the San Rafael-Richmond bridge (annotated as the "Eastshore Freeway" on many maps, although no one ever calls it that.) Now, I have no problems with cosigned Interstates, but, (1) the freeway runs north-south (2) the northbound part is signed as I-80 East/I-580 West and the southbound part is signed as I-80 West/I-580 East. While, as I've said, it's not always logical to be logical, but I for some reason I find it horribly offensive to be heading both east and west when in fact I'm heading north.
While I don't think that I-80 should be struck from this part of the freeway (since it's the only way the route can be contiguous from the San Francisco Civic Center to all the way to the George Washington Bridge in New York City), I do think that there should be an effort to properly delineate the actual geographic direction of the freeway, or at least to eliminate the horrendously confusing east/west-west/east signage.
(Speaking of directional confusion, while I-238 is in fact east-west, it is signed as north-south—the way that the surface alignment of CA-238 is signed.)
So I came up with these ideas that would both eliminate I-238 AND take care of the I-80/I-580 mess.
Create a new east-west Interstate: People have suggested renumbering the segment of I-580 between I-5 and I-238 to something like I-70 (since it is south of I-80) This is nice because I think the Central Valley does deserve its own east-west interstate, and it leaves the possibility of building an interstate through Nevada, connecting to the western terminus of I-70 at I-15 in Utah. The only problem is that there is a CA-70 in the Sierras, and California has a strict numbering policy where interstate numbers and state numbers cannot overlap. While CA-70 could be renumbered, this is definitely a lot of work. Unfortunately, CA-78, CA-76, CA-74, and CA-72 are taken (though, admittedly, it could be anything less than 80 and greater than 40, the next east-west interstate to the south. Still, I checked at the California Highways site, and CA-68, CA-66, CA-62, CA-60, CA-58, CA-56, CA-54, CA-52, US-50, CA-46, CA-44, CA-42 are all taken. CA-64 and CA-48 are assigned routes that have never been built (and with CA-64, will probably never be built), and CA-42 has recently been decommissioned. So I suppose I-64 could be a possibility, although the closer the number is to 40, the more difficult it will be to find interstate numberings for the more southern portions of the Central Valley when it will be warranted by population growth.)
I like the idea of I-78. CA-78 is a freeway anyway, at least between I-5 and I-15, so if it meets interstate standards, maybe it can be an x15. Maybe I-715, with the non-freeway portion being resigned to CA-715. Admittedly, this is probably a lot of re-signing, but if CA-78 can become an interstate, it might be worth it.
So I-78 could be applied to existing alignment, from CA-99 to I-5 via CA-120, co-signed with I-5, then via I-205, and I-580. Now, if I-78 is made to run all the way to San Rafael, this will do nothing for the east/west-west/east signing, so I would apply I-78 to I-238, terminating at I-880. The former segment of I-580 between I-205 and I-5 should probably be renumbered to an x78 (I-578?) and not as an x05 (although I suppose I-705 is available, it definitely should not be numbered I-205 since that would be kind of confusing.) The former segment of I-580 between I-238 and US-101 could be numbered as another x78, running north-south, thereby eliminating the mess on the Eastshore Freeway and properly denoting the actual geographic direction that the Eastshore Freeway runs. (Alternatively, as above, instead of I-78, it could be I-64, but the idea would be the same.)
Now, if you don't want to create a new interstate, there could still be some creative renumbering. I-580 can be truncated at current I-238. I-238 could be renumbered I-580 (thereby making I-580 run between I-880 and I-5.) If we exclude the possiblity of I-980 ever being extended to Walnut Creek/Concord, then we could apply I-980 to current I-580 between I-980 and I-238 (and we wouldn't have to change the directional markers, as I-980 is also an east-west route, despite running more north-south.) The remaining segment of I-580 (the Eastshore freeway and the San Rafael-Richmond bridge) is problematic, however, but this is another place to possibly apply I-480, running north-south, thereby eliminating the east/west-west/east confusion.
Now, how's that for an exercise in complete uselessness?