April 2010 Baja Quake – Part 2

In July 2010, I was able to go to Baja California with a friend. Part of our route traversed Federal Highway 2 (Mexico), which suffered some damage from the April 2010 quake. Hwy 2 had been repaired but the adjacent old alignment had not been. I was rather amazed at the amount of offset from this earthquake. I observed about 2′ of horizontal and about 5′ of vertical offset at the highway crossing.

East of the fault, bridge embankments on the Hwy 2 Mexicali Bypass show signs of settling.

East of the fault, bridge embankments on the Hwy 2 Mexicali Bypass show signs of settling.

Offset right of way fence next to Hwy 2.

Offset right of way fence next to Hwy 2.

Old alignment of Hwy 2, now offset by about 2 feet horizontally and 5 feet vertically.

Old alignment of Hwy 2, now offset by about 2 feet horizontally and 5 feet vertically.

Side view of the old alignment showing the vertical offset.

Side view of the old alignment showing the vertical offset.

Breaks in the soil to the north. Two distinct scarps can be noted here.

Breaks in the soil to the north. Two distinct scarps can be noted here.

At the break, the old alignment now has a steep ramp and crack.

At the break, the old alignment now has a steep ramp and crack.

Fixing problems in San Diego – And how you can help

In the City of San Diego, there are many roadways with problems. Some are badly cracked, crumbling, filled with potholes, and worse. The City has been working toward repaving a lot of roads over the past couple years, which has helped greatly. However, more is needed. In the case of smaller problems, you can contact the City online and report issues. I’ve done this for many locations and have had good results. The latest was to help correct a striping problem on Park Blvd. Bike lanes were added on Park Blvd between Morley Field Drive and Cypress Ave. To do so, the median of the roadway had to be reduced. This left older, albeit somewhat faded, striping left behind. This striping tended to confuse motorists who would then either drive in the bike lane or really close to it, when they had a lot more lane left. Having had some problems here myself with this issue, I contacted the City and they fixed it. I strongly encourage anyone to make these requests and help make our city a better place to live.

Before the striping was fixed. You can still see the old setup.

Before the striping was fixed. You can still see the old setup.

Southbound from Cypress Ave. Note how the old striping is far to the right from the new stripe.

Southbound from Cypress Ave. Note how the old striping is far to the right from the new stripe.

Northbound toward Cypress Ave. The old striping was painted over in black.

Northbound toward Cypress Ave. The old striping was painted over in black.

Poppies in bloom!

On a trip to Grapevine Canyon today, I saw quite a few poppies in bloom. Grapevine Canyon and the area around the California Poppy Reserve were quite spectacular, considering the dry winter. The recent rains, which have been well timed, seemed to have made the drought a little prettier to look at.

Deadman's Curve and Poppies

Deadman’s Curve and Poppies

Poppies high on the canyon walls in Grapevine Canyon.

Poppies high on the canyon walls in Grapevine Canyon.

Brawley Bypass

A new bypass highway was completed a couple years ago by Caltrans around Brawley. Signed as State 78 and State 111, it forms a northeast loop around town. It is an expressway, not a freeway. This distinction makes for some unusual signage where there is an interchange with State 111.

Confusing sign at the exit on the bypass. Is it current or old?

Confusing sign at the exit on the bypass. Is it current or old?

At the bypass, State 111 turns. Signage is a bit confusing with Old Highway 111 signed at the same exit as current Highway 111.

At the bypass, State 111 turns. Signage is a bit confusing with Old Highway 111 signed at the same exit as current Highway 111.

Heading south, only State 111 is signed, though State 78 also runs here.

Heading south, only State 111 is signed, though State 78 also runs here.

Expressway signage for 78

Expressway signage for 78

Road Building in San Gabriel Canyon

In the 1930′s, Los Angeles County began construction of an additional roadway over the San Gabriel Mountains via the East Fork of the San Gabriel River. About half of the roadway, complete with with some larger bridges and a tunnel, was constructed. Work had progressed as far as “The Narrows” by 1938. However, the March 2-3, 1938 storms caused much of the roadway to be washed out. The project was then abandoned, leaving a large arch bridge stranded many miles upriver. The tunnel still exists as well, just north of the “Bridge to Nowhere”, though it has been sealed at both ends.

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1936 arch bridge – The Bridge to Nowhere

1936 stamp on the arch bridge.

1936 stamp on the arch bridge.

Looking over the arch bridge to the tunnel site.

Looking over the arch bridge to the tunnel site.

Abandoned and partly destroyed bridge over the river.

Abandoned and partly destroyed bridge over the river.

Bridge over Cattle Canyon on the East Fork Road. This is similar to what the removed bridges north of here would have looked like.

Bridge over Cattle Canyon on the East Fork Road. This is similar to what the removed bridges north of here would have looked like.

In the 1950′s,  a new road building project commenced in the canyon. This new alignment would stay high above the canyon floor until it got nearer to the “Bridge to Nowhere”, allowing that earlier work to come to some use. Progress on this roadway was slow, mostly due to poor funding. Convict labor was used for most of the project, similar to many other road building efforts at the time in Los Angeles County. Two tunnels were constructed as well. These still exist and are mostly intact. This project too was cancelled, leaving another large scar in the canyon. This road is presently known as Shoemaker Canyon Road.

Stone railing along Shoemaker Canyon Road.

Stone railing along Shoemaker Canyon Road.

End of the pavement and open section of Shoemaker Canyon Road.

End of the pavement and open section of Shoemaker Canyon Road.

Partly graded roadway and tunnel along the "Road to Nowhere".

Partly graded roadway and tunnel along the “Road to Nowhere”.

Grading along the "Road to Nowhere".

Grading along the “Road to Nowhere”.

Northern tunnel from 1964.

Northern tunnel from 1964.

Today, the canyon is protected from future development through the Sheep Mountain Wilderness Area. Even without this protection, the geology of the canyon makes for a very expensive project. Maintenance would also be costly, as seen with State 39. In time, all these structures and cuts will wash away, leaving the canyon with only bits of concrete and asphalt to show what was once here.

Remnants of paving in the canyon.

Remnants of paving in the canyon.

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