Southern California freeways

Southern California freeways

The freeways of Southern California, along with beaches, palm trees, and movie studios, are one of the major trademarks of this region. Perhaps no other urban areas in the world have embraced the automobile as passionately as have Greater Los Angeles (including Los Angeles, Orange, and Ventura counties and the "Inland Empire") and San Diegoref|carney. Extensive and complex freeway networks criss-cross the still fast-growing region, connecting urban centers with their suburbs and exurbs, as well as the areas of urban sprawl between them.

Despite the large number of freeways in Greater Los Angeles, the area actually has fewer lane-miles per capita than most larger metropolitan areas in the United States, ranking 31st of the top 39. As of 1999, Greater L.A. had 0.419 lane-miles per 1,000 people, only slightly more than Greater New York City and fewer than Greater Boston, the Washington Metropolitan Area and the San Francisco Bay Area. (American metros average .613 lane-miles per thousand) San Diego ranked 17th in the same study, with 0.659 lane-miles per thousand, and the Inland Empire ranked 21st, with 0.626. []

A note on freeway names

As in many American cities, Southern California freeways have names that are often distinct from the state or federal highway number that they are assigned. Southern California residents idiomatically refer to freeways with the definite article, as "the [freeway number] " (e.g., the Santa Monica and San Bernardino freeways are known as "the 10" (or in recent years the I-10), as they are segments of Interstate 10), but traffic reporters, highway signs, and transportation planners usually refer to a freeway by its full, descriptive name. Many overhead freeway signs installed at interchanges since the 1990s, however, have stopped displaying the freeway name, instead displaying the highway number, direction, and control city. The above example illustrates that a numbered route might have two or more names, each describing a different part of the freeway. Conversely, a named freeway might include portions of two or more differently numbered routes; for example, the Ventura Freeway consists of portions of U.S. Route 101 and State Route 134.



Southern California's romance with the automobile owes in large part to resentment of the Southern Pacific Railroad's tight control over the region's commerce in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During his successful campaign for governor in 1910, anti-Southern Pacific candidate Hiram Johnson traveled the state by car (no small feat at that time). In the minds of Southlanders, this associated the automobile with clean, progressive government, in stark contrast to the railroads' control over the corrupt governments of the Midwest and Northeast. While the Southern Pacific-owned Pacific Electric Railway's famous "Red Car" streetcar lines were the axes of urbanization in Los Angeles during its period of spectacular growth in the 1910s and 1920s, they were unprofitable and increasingly unattractive compared to automobiles. As cars became cheaper and began to fill the region's roads in the 1920s, the Pacific Electric both lost ridership and slowed to a crawl; traffic congestion soon threatened to choke off the region's development altogether. At the same time, a number of influential urban planners were advocating the construction of a network of what one widely-read book dubbed "Magic Motorways", as the backbone of suburban development. These "greenbelt" advocates called for decentralized, automobile-oriented development as a means of remedying both urban overcrowding and declining rates of home ownership.

Planning and construction

During World War II, transportation bottlenecks on Southern California roads and railways convinced many that if Southern California were to accommodate a large population, it needed a completely new transportation system. The city of Los Angeles favored an upgraded rail transit system focused on its central city. However, the success of the Arroyo Seco Parkway, built between Los Angeles and Pasadena in 1940, convinced many that a freeway system could solve the region's transportation problems. Leaders of surrounding cities, such as Whittier, South Gate, Long Beach, and Pasadena, accordingly called for a web of freeways to connect the whole region, rather than funneling their residents out of their own downtowns and into that of Los Angeles. Pro-freeway sentiments prevailed, and by 1947 a comprehensive freeway plan for Los Angeles had been drawn up by the California Department of Public Works (now "Caltrans"). San Diego soon followed suit, and by the early 1950s construction had begun on much of the region's freeway system.


By the 1970s, Caltrans had abandoned many planned freeways in the face of significant political opposition. Growing enthusiasm for mass transit siphoned tax dollars away from freeway construction, and the California tax revolt of that same decade significantly reduced the resources available for infrastructure development. By 2004, only 61% of the freeway miles proposed in the 1954 master plan had been built. While many of these routes were geographically improbable (e.g. the Angeles Crest and Decker Freeways), some would have been quite useful. Combined with Caltrans' failure to complete routes such as the Long Beach and Glendale Freeways, the abandonment of routes such as the Laurel Canyon and Beverly Hills Freeways resulted in gaps and bottlenecks in the freeway system that caused ripple effects of congestion throughout the entire network. In response to the drying-up of funds from state government that followed in the wake of Proposition 13, Orange County--perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the freeway system--embarked on its own program of tollway construction in the 1980s using local funds, and began to apply local financing to freeway construction as well after the turn of the 21st century. The Century Freeway, belatedly opened in 1993 after bruising fights over its construction, is generally thought to be the last new freeway built with traditional funding methods.

Unlike Los Angeles, San Diego County is nearing completion of the originally planned freeway system. In San Diego, regional sales tax money helped pay for various extensions, with new toll roads like State Route 125 to fill in the remaining gaps. [] [] (bad link) The only major freeway not built was State Route 252 through Barrio Logan. []

The future

After a deep recession in the early 1990s caused by the collapse of the defense industry at the end of the Cold War, Southern California began to grow again in the latter part of the decade. As in the region's population surge in the 1920s and 1930s, most of the new arrivals were impoverished illegal aliens from Mexico, and as in that period of growth, the region's infrastructure has had difficulty in keeping up.Dubious|date=March 2008 Traffic congestion that was already the nation's worst in the late 1980s got steadily worse throughout the 1990s, and by 2000 many routes (primarily freeways going through narrow mountain passes, such as the San Diego Freeway between the San Fernando Valley and the Los Angeles Basin) were clogged further. However, even in the face of the state budget crisis of the early 2000s, plans have been drawn up to radically expand the region's transportation network to accommodate population growth that has already swelled the region's population to 17 million (as of the U.S. Census of 2000) and may see it grow to 25 or even 30 million in the coming decades. Environmentalist sentiments, high fuel prices, and the dearth of available land within a short drive of the region's urban centers will likely result in future development taking a pattern along the mass transit-oriented lines of the "smart growth" school's recommendations. It is clear, though, that freeways will continue to play an important role in Southern California's transportation throughout the 21st century.

Proposed/future freeways

Despite the previously-mentioned impediments to freeway construction, and the pressing need to rebuild many freeways designed for far lower volumes of traffic than their current usage, Caltrans' portfolio of new freeway projects remains sizable. Notable projects (some of which may never come to pass) include:

*Extension of the Interstate 710 Long Beach Freeway, to its originally planned terminus at Interstate 210 Foothill Freeway in Pasadena, via a tunnel underneath the city of South Pasadena
*Extension of the SR 2 Glendale Freeway through Silver Lake/Echo Park to meet the US 101 Hollywood Freeway.
*Upgrade of State Route 15 (SR 15) south of I-8 to Interstate 15 (I-15), "Escondido Freeway", to Interstate 5 (I-5), near downtown San Diego
*Conversion of SR 99 into Interstate 9
*Addition of high occupancy vehicle and high occupancy toll lanes to freeway segments currently lacking them
*Construction of lower-inclined alternate alignments on steep segments of freeway, to enable trucks to climb mountain passes more easily and speed up the flow of automobile traffic
*Construction of an additional freeway across the Santa Ana Mountains, to relieve congestion on the State Route 91 "Riverside Freeway" and provide a route between the Inland Empire and southern Orange County
*Extension of State Route 241 to meet the Interstate 5 in San Clemente
*Extension of State Route 57(Orange Freeway) to State Route 1 in Huntington Beach
*Extend State Route 905/future Interstate 905 to the Otay Mesa border crossing, with a junction at State Route 125 and future State Route 11
*A new freeway, considered as an alternative to State Route 91 will be constructed between Lake Elsinore to San Jacinto. This project, spearheaded by Riverside County Transportation Commission, is named 'Mid County Parkway'. It is unsure if this will receive a state signage in the future.

outhern California freeway firsts

* First freeway in California (Arroyo Seco Parkway linking Pasadena, California and Los Angeles, California)
* First stack interchange (Four Level Interchange in downtown Los Angeles)
* First grade-separated HOV lanesFact|date=February 2008
* First fully automated tollway system (91 Express Lanes in northern Orange County)

List of freeways

Major Freeways leading into and out of Southern California

*Interstate 5 southbound to Tijuana in Baja California, Mexico, northbound to the Central Valley
**John J. Montgomery Freeway from U.S.-Mexico border crossing at San Ysidro, California to Downtown San Diego
**San Diego Freeway from Downtown San Diego to the El Toro Y
**Santa Ana Freeway from the El Toro Y to the East L.A. Interchange
**Golden State Freeway from the East L.A. Interchange to Wheeler Ridge, California
*Interstate 8 west terminus in Ocean Beach in San Diego, eastbound to the Arizona State Line
**Ocean Beach Freeway from Ocean Beach in San Diego to Old Town San Diego
**Mission Valley Freeway, also known as the Alvarado Freeway from Old Town San Diego to El Cajon, California
**Kumeyaay Freeway from El Cajon, California to the Arizona State Line
*Interstate 10 west terminus at Santa Monica, California, eastbound to the Arizona State Line
**Santa Monica Freeway from Santa Monica, California to the East L.A. Interchange
**San Bernardino Freeway from the East L.A. Interchange to San Bernardino, California
*Interstate 15 south terminus in Barrio Logan in San Diego, northbound to the Nevada State Line
**Wabash Freeway (signed as State Route 15) from Barrio Logan in San Diego to Interstate 805
**Escondido Freeway from Interstate 805 to the San Diego County Line
**Temecula Valley Freeway from the San Diego County Line to Lake Elsinore
**Corona Freeway from Lake Elsinore to Corona
**Ontario Freeway from Corona to Devore
**Mojave Freeway from Devore to the Nevada State Line
**Barstow Freeway from Devore to the Nevada State Line
*Interstate 40 west terminus in Barstow, California, eastbound to the Arizona State Line
**Needles Freeway
*U.S. Route 101 south terminus at the East L.A. Interchange, westbound to Santa Barbara, California then northbound to the Central Coast of California
**Santa Ana Freeway from the East L.A. Interchange to the Four Level Interchange
**Hollywood Freeway from the Four Level Interchange to the junction with the Ventura Freeway
**Ventura Freeway from the junction with the Hollywood Freeway to Seacliff, California
*State Route 14, south terminus at Tunnel Station, northbound to Bishop, California
**Antelope Valley Freeway from Tunnel Station to Mojave, California

an Diego area

*Interstate 8
**Ocean Beach Freeway from Ocean Beach to Old Town San Diego
**Mission Valley Freeway from Old Town San Diego to El Cajon, California
**Kumeyaay Freeway from El Cajon, California to Imperial County and beyond
*State Route 52
**Soledad Freeway
**from La Jolla to Santee, California
*State Route 54
**South Bay Freeway
**from National City, California to Jamacha Road exit
*State Route 56
**Ted Williams Freeway
**from Carmel Valley to Rancho Bernardo
*State Route 67
**San Vicente Freeway
**from El Cajon to Lakeside, California
*State Route 75
**San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge
*State Route 78
**Ronald Packard Parkway
**from Oceanside to Escondido
*State Route 94
**Martin Luther King Jr. Freeway
**from Downtown San Diego to Spring Valley
*State Route 125
**South Bay Expressway from Otay Mesa to Jamacha Road exit
**Ramona Freeway from Jamacha Road exit to Santee
*State Route 163
**Cabrillo Freeway
**from Downtown San Diego to Kearny Mesa at Interstate 15
*Interstate 805
**Jacob Dekema Freeway, also known as the Inland Freeway
**from San Ysidro to "The Merge" at Sorrento Valley
*Interstate 905
**Otay Mesa Freeway
**from San Ysidro to the Otay Mesa border crossing

Controlled access routes not maintained by the state

*Kearny Villa Road near Naval Air Station Miramar, former routing of U.S. Route 395
*Pacific Highway near San Diego International Airport (Lindbergh Field), former routing of U.S. Route 101
*Friars Road in Mission Valley near Qualcomm Stadium (formerly Jack Murphy Stadium)
*Nimitz Boulevard in Point Loma

Greater Los Angeles

(includes Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties)
*State Route 1
**freeway stub in Dana Point, leading north from Interstate 5
**freeway stub east of Oxnard
*State Route 2
**Glendale Freeway from Silver Lake to junction with State Route 134 in Glendale, California
**Frank D. Lanterman Freeway from junction with State Route 134 to La Cañada-Flintridge
*Interstate 5
**San Diego Freeway from San Diego to the El Toro Y
**Santa Ana Freeway from the El Toro Y to the East L.A. Interchange
**Golden State Freeway from the East L.A. Interchange to Wheeler Ridge, California in Kern County
*Interstate 10
**Santa Monica Freeway from Santa Monica to the East L.A. Interchange
**San Bernardino Freeway from the East L.A. Interchange to San Bernardino, California
*State Route 14
**Antelope Valley Freeway from Tunnel Station to Mojave, California in Kern County
*Interstate 15
**Temecula Valley Freeway from San Diego County line to Lake Elsinore
**Corona Freeway from Lake Elsinore to Corona
**Ontario Freeway from Corona to Devore
**Mojave Freeway from Devore to the Nevada State Line
* State Route 22
**7th Street freeway stub from Long Beach, California to Los Alamitos, California at the Interstate 405 and Interstate 605 interchange
**Garden Grove Freeway from Westminster, California to Orange, California
*State Route 23
**Moorpark Freeway from Newberry Springs, California to Moorpark, California
*State Route 33
**Ojai Freeway from Ventura, California to Foster Park, California
*Interstate 40
**Needles Freeway from Barstow, California to the Arizona State Line
*State Route 47
**Vincent Thomas Bridge connecting San Pedro to Terminal Island
**Terminal Island Freeway from Seaside Ave to Henry Ford Ave exit (splitting off from State Route 103)
*State Route 55
**Costa Mesa Freeway, formerly Newport Freeway from Costa Mesa to Anaheim
*State Route 57
**Orange Freeway from the Orange Crush to Glendora, California
*State Route 58
**freeway stub east from Barstow, California
*State Route 60
**Pomona Freeway from the East L.A. Interchange to Riverside, California
**Moreno Valley Freeway from Riverside, California to the junction with Interstate 10
*State Route 71
**Chino Valley Freeway from just north of State Route 91 to State Route 57
**freeway stub from the Kellogg Interchange leading to the Corona Expressway
*State Route 73
**Corona del Mar Freeway from Costa Mesa to Irvine
**San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor from Irvine to Laguna Niguel
*State Route 90
**Marina Freeway freeway stub east and west of the Interstate 405 near Marina del Rey
**Richard M. Nixon Parkway freeway stub west from State Route 91 in Yorba Linda
*State Route 91
**Gardena Freeway from Interstate 110 in Gardena to Artesia
**Artesia Freeway from Artesia to Fullerton at Interstate 5
**Riverside Freeway from Fullerton at Interstate 5 to Riverside, California
*U.S. Route 101
**Santa Ana Freeway from the East L.A. Interchange to the Four Level Interchange
**Hollywood Freeway from the Four Level Interchange to the junction with State Route 134 and State Route 170
**Ventura Freeway from the junction with State Route 134 and State Route 170 to Seacliff, California just west of Ventura
*State Route 103
**Terminal Island Freeway co-signed from Seaside Avenue with State Route 47 to Sepulveda Blvd/Willow Street in Long Beach
*Interstate 105
**Glenn Anderson Freeway, more commonly known as the Century Freeway from El Segundo to Norwalk
*Interstate 110
**Harbor Freeway from San Pedro, California to Downtown L.A. at the interchange with the Santa Monica Freeway
*State Route 110
**Harbor Freeway from the interchange with the Santa Monica Freeway to the Four Level Interchange
**Pasadena Freeway from the Four Level Interchange to Pasadena, California
*State Route 118
**Ronald Reagan Freeway, also known as the Simi Valley-San Fernando Valley Freeway, or more simply, the Simi Valley Freeway from Moorpark to San Fernando
*State Route 133
**Laguna Freeway from just south of Interstate 405 to Interstate 5
**Eastern Transportation Corridor from Interstate 5 to State Route 241
*State Route 134
**Ventura Freeway from Pasadena to Universal City at the junction with the Hollywood Freeway
*State Route 138
**freeway stub east from Interstate 5 near Gorman
*State Route 170
**Hollywood Freeway from the interchange with the Ventura Freeway to the Golden State Freeway
*Interstate 210 and State Route 210
**Foothill Freeway from Tunnel Station to Redlands, California
*Interstate 215
**Escondido Freeway from Murrieta to Riverside
**Riverside Freeway from Riverside to San Bernardino
**Barstow Freeway from San Bernardino to Devore
*State Route 241
**Foothill Transportation Corridor from Oso Parkway to the Eastern Transportation Corridor
**Eastern Transportation Corridor from the Foothill Transportation Corridor to the Riverside Freeway
*State Route 261
**Eastern Transportation Corridor from Jamboree Road near the Santa Ana Freeway to State Route 241
*Interstate 405
**San Diego Freeway from the El Toro Y to San Fernando
*Interstate 605
**San Gabriel River Freeway from Los Alamitos to Duarte
*Interstate 710
**Long Beach Freeway from Long Beach to Alhambra
**freeway stub south from the Foothill Freeway

Controlled-access routes not maintained by the state

*Colorado Street former routing of State Route 134 from Interstate 5 to San Fernando Road just west of Glendale
*Colorado Freeway former routing of State Route 134 from Colorado Blvd in Eagle Rock to the Ventura Freeway
*Oak Grove Drive in Pasadena, former routing of the Foothill Freeway
*Shoreline Drive in Long Beach
*La Cienega Boulevard in the Baldwin Hills, originally intended to be part of the discontinued Laurel Canyon Freeway

Named freeway interchanges

* Four Level (Bill Keene Memorial)
* East Los Angeles
* Hollywood Split
* El Toro Y
* Kellogg
* Orange Crush
* Newhall Pass (Clarence Wayne Dean Memorial)
* Glendora Curve

Other named features of the freeway system

* South Bay Curve: where the Interstate 405 bends from north-south to east-west in Torrance
* Sepulveda Pass: the Interstate 405 just south of U.S. Route 101 near the J Paul Getty Museum. Sometimes called "Poop-Out Pass".
* Cahuenga Pass: the Hollywood Freeway just south of the interchange with the Ventura Freeway
* Figueroa Street Tunnels: the northbound lanes of the Pasadena Freeway between the Four Level Interchange and the interchange with the Golden State Freeway
* Glendora Curve: the transition of the northbound 57 Orange Freeway to the westbound 210 Foothill Freeway; or the eastbound 210 transition to the southbound 57. Formerly part of Interstate 210 before the completion of the newer section of the Foothill Freeway in 2003.


*Carney, Steve. "From Superhighways To Sigalerts: Freeways Have Become Part Of Southland's Identity." "Los Angeles Daily News", 21 September 1999, p. N4.
*Hise, Greg (1999). "Magnetic Los Angeles: Planning the Twentieth-Century Metropolis." Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-6255-8.
*Taylor, Brian (2004). "The Geography of Urban Transportation Finance," pp 294-331 in Hanson and Giuliano eds., "The Geography of Urban Transportation", 3rd Edition. The Guilford Press. ISBN 1-59385-055-7.

External links

* [ The History of Southern California Freeway Development]
* [ Los Angeles Area Highways Page]
* [ California Department of Transportation] Live Streaming Traffic Cams
* [ California Highway Patrol] Los Angeles Traffic Incident Information Page
* [ Sigalert] Los Angeles Traffic Report
* [ Los Angeles Freeway Descriptions]
* [ California Department of Transportation] Named Freeways (PDF file)
* [] Southern California Trucking Accidents
* [ California Institute for Telecommunications] Wireless Traffic Reports for Southern Cal

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