I’m working on a new “Highway Tips” post, should be done next week. This installment will discuss highway signage from small roadside signs to the large overhead signs on freeways.
So much has been going on lately, so this may seem “rambling”. From massive fires to massive mudslides and more, it seems that the Earth just doesn’t like us. Sometimes I feel like the San Gabriel Mountains, for example, doesn’t like roadways and every once and a while – it removes them from its shoulders. I remember watching the news in Los Angeles many years ago, probably in the early 1990’s, and one of the newscasters said “Malibu must be an old Indian name for “don’t live here”” referring to the then recent fire/mudslide/rockslide problem. Such is the cycle in this climate and geology.
With this in mind, I know I have been somewhat lax in updates to the site recently. It happens from time to time. A recent project I have started is something I should have started long ago – adding California Highways and Public Works references to my “Official Highway Logs” for US 6, US 99, and other major routes in Southern California. Some of these are available on the site, although not always up to date. I’ve also been traveling. I went to the Mojave Desert with my husband and a friend over New Years weekend and will eventually add photos of the journey. It was a lot of fun, hiking the Kelso Sand Dunes as well as other areas nearby. I am also attending a Ridge Route meeting in mid-January soon. I hope this meeting is fruitful, as I believe it will be.
Keep watching the site for further updates. There is much to discuss and much more to come. Highway tours will commence sometime in February, most likely coming to US 80 and US 395 here in San Diego County. For the highway tours, please contact me for more information and to express interest.
This site is one of the best to get updated information on all the fires ongoing in California.
This is the first part of a new series on SoCalRegion where we will discuss various topics related to roadways, their design, signage, as well as other features to help assist all road users in traveling throughout California. Many of these features exist in other states, but some have a different take on things.
Roadway striping comes in a few different colors and designs. Each of these have a meaning. Even without using signs, you can use striping to help determine what is going on with a roadway. Using these clues can also help aid with navigation in unfamiliar areas.
Let’s start with the basics. Two basic elements of striping are common throughout the United States – yellow means dividing opposing traffic and white means same direction of traffic. These colors remain nearly universal throughout all 50 states. Double striping, no matter the color, denotes a “no passing” or “no crossing” location. Passing, assuming the roadway is two lanes wide, can be done when the stripe on your side is broken. When the whole stripe is broken, both sides can pass.
Multilane highways are divided in a variety of ways. When it comes to striping, there are three main types. The first is still the basic double-yellow striping. When a roadway needs a bit more of a divider, two sets of double yellow stripes are placed. These are considered “painted barriers” and are not to be crossed in any way. Some of these roadways have breaks in the striping, usually on one side only, to allow for turns onto side streets or driveways.
Common center turn lanes are another way to divide a roadway. These can exist even on two lane roadways but are more common on multilane roads. These center lanes are striped with a solid yellow line on the outside and a broken yellow line on the inside. These lanes allow both directions to make left turns.
Freeways, while the striping is color coded the same way as regular roads, do have some different styles and meanings. Exit Only lanes, meaning lanes that will exit a freeway shortly, have something Caltrans calls – Elephant Tracks. When a lane is going to leave the freeway, the striping changes in thickness and frequency. These stripes are wider and a little more frequent than regular lane striping. It is one of the visual cues that is designed to help motorists determine if they are in the correct lane, regardless of signage.
At the exit itself, the shoulder striping in California has a unique modification. Designed to aid motorists in times of reduced visibility, the shoulder stripe has a break at the exit and flares out to mark the exit. In areas subject to heavy fog, there is an additional exit cue – reflectors. These are off to the side of the shoulder striping at intervals and are in rows of three, two, then one at the exit.
HOV lane striping is another variation found on California freeways. Until a few years ago, these lane were, in general, striped with a double set of double yellow lines, acting as a painted barrier. There were variations based on available space as well. Specific entry/exit points where marked with broken white striping. These stripes are now being changed to double white lines with broken striping at the entry/exit points.
As you can see, there are many ways to determine what is going on with a roadway without looking at signage. Striping help guide road users in ways signage cannot. So, when you are in unfamiliar territory or in conditions where you can’t see the signs, use these clues to help direct you to where you are going. The stripes are there to help!
After doing a bit of thinking, I came up with an idea of a new regular feature for the site. I will be posting, with some regularity but no set interval, various topics of regarding highway features. An example, explanations of various types of striping and what they mean. These topics will be California-specific, but some things are more “universal”. Look for the first post in the next few days.
Today, myself and three others cleaned my portion of I-8 and the western US 80 adopted sections. Temperatures were a bit warmer than planned, but still not that bad. A bit more of a breeze would have helped though. We all met at 9 am at Laguna Summit and started with cleaning I-8. There ended up being a bit more trash than I expected, which is ok for a first cleanup. We managed to fill six large bags with trash and left the highway quite clean. US 80, however, was much easier. What little was there only filled one bag halfway. I do with to thank the volunteers for coming out. It was quite helpful and made the cleanup go fairly smoothly. I do plan another cleanup in a couple of months, this one will include I-8 and both sections of US 80 (Laguna Summit and Jacumba). Temperatures should be nicer by then as well.
On October 8, I am planning another highway cleanup. This one will be in eastern San Diego County and cover two sections of highway, I-8 at Laguna Summit (Sunrise Highway) and US 80. My section of I-8 runs from the summit to two miles east with about 1/2 of it able to be cleaned. The section of US 80 runs from just below Laguna Summit to two miles east as well. Both roadways should be a fairly easy cleanup. The plan, thus far, is to meet at I-8 and Sunrise Highway / Old Highway 80 at 9 am. Safety equipment, such as hard hats and vests will be supplied. There will be a safety meeting for all the volunteers as well before the cleanup begins. Bring plenty of water and snacks as we will be out there a while. Only those 18 and over can volunteer. Please RSVP as so I can get an idea of how many to expect. So, come on out and help clean some of our counties roadways.