There are several challenges still to come. The "obstacle avoidance" (like tires, mattresses, or spilled loads in the road) technology has not been perfected. The legal side is a problem too: who is liable if someone crashes into someone else while driving on AHS? Technologically, what would happen if the computer crashes? Would all the cars crash too? Finally, some libertarians believe this concept of highway automation is one step from federal identification and location of individuals, which can be considered an invasion of privacy.
To get started, read this Public Roads article Overview of ITS and AHS. Then check out the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Cooperative Deployment Network web page for more information about ITS and AHS. This site is chock full of good information about automated travel.
Congestion Pricing on the Interstate 15 HOV Lanes in San Diego
At about the same time as the automated vehicle tests, the same reversible High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes were labeled as "under-utilized" by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). SANDAG decided that more vehicles would use the reversible lanes if they were available for broader use. So SANDAG introduced the FASTRAK system to the reversible express lane, and now single occupancy vehicles may use the express lanes for a toll. This toll varies based on traffic (hence the "congestion pricing" term used). It can be as much as $8 for a one-way trip if the traffic is completely stopped on the normal Interstate 15 lanes. This "experiment" is planned for the next three years (starting in Winter 1998). Note that this use of HOV lanes for single vehicles willing to pay a toll is unusual, since the HOV lanes were built with taxpayer money. The California 91 express lanes in Orange County were built with private money, so that is a different situation.
The lanes are about eight miles in length, with no exits. $8 is a bit pricey; but, the toll would rarely be that much. In a given daily situation, tolls could range from $.50 to $2.25 (those are the ranges that I have seen). Eight dollars could be a true toll, and they do mention this in the guide book that they make available to you when you sign up for a box. But, it would be under extreme emergencies (such as was described above; when traffic would be completely stopped during a major traffic incident). In practicality though, tolls are only supposed to range from $.50 to $4.00, depending upon traffic in the HOV lanes (tolls change every six minutes; if the toll changes while you are in the lanes, the driver is charged the lesser of the two possible tolls).
Interstate 15: California 163 to California 78 - San Diego to Escondido
Between 2000 and 2020, SANDAG plans on freeway expansion between the California 163 merge and Escondido. This expansion would include an extension of the reversible express lanes from California 56 north to California 78. Additional auxiliary and collector-distributor lanes may also be considered.
California 56 - Carmel Valley to Rancho Penasquitos
California 56 is the incomplete freeway connector planned from the Carmel Valley northeast to Rancho Penasquitos. This freeway will be constructed as a six-lane freeway with provisions for additional lanes. It will provide relief to both Interstates 5 and 15 as well as provide an additional east-west connection in northern San Diego County.
California 125 and 67/San Diego Outer Bypass
California 125 is the incomplete San Diego Outer Bypass. Currently under construction or complete from California 52 south to the Mexican Border, California 125 is also planned to extend northward under an undetermined path. Several alternatives for a northerly extension are under consideration, including a possible easterly path where California 125 would connect with California 67, then head north to connect with California 78 near Valley Center and Interstate 15 near Rainbow. However, all alignments are controversial, so no plan has yet been finalized. The objective of this freeway is to take border truck traffic and other traffic bound for Mexico away from the city of San Diego and toward the Otay Mesa Border Crossing.
Interstate 215/California 60-91 Interchange Improvements - Riverside
The Interstate 215 interchange with California 60 and 91 is a cloverleaf, forcing southbound Interstate 215 traffic to take the tight cloverleaf loop to remain on the Interstate. This interchange is slated for an upgrade beginning in 2003. Completion is expected in 2007. This project, which was estimated to cost $294 million in January 2001, will reconstruct California 60 and Interstate 215 between Rubidoux and Moreno Valley.
This project will include two flyover ramps to be constructed over the existing cloverleaf - one will take drivers from northbound Interstate 215/westbound California 60 to westbound California 91. The other will take drivers from southbound Interstate 215 to eastbound California 60/southbound Interstate 215. This project will include high occupancy vehicle lanes, ramp and interchange configurations along California 60 and Interstate 215, and other roadway improvements.
Interstate 15 Widening - San Bernardino to Las Vegas
Interstate 15 through the Mojave Desert will be widened to accommodate increased traffic loads. The first phase of the widening of Interstate 15 from Las Vegas to San Bernardino was completed in September 1999. During this first phase, Interstate 15 was widened to six lanes from the Interstate 215 "Fish Bowl" Interchange to the Sloan interchange just south of Las Vegas.
This widening project will eventually continue south of Sloan. Interstate 15 between San Bernardino and Las Vegas will be widening over the next several years to handle projected increases in traffic flow between Southern California and Southern Nevada. A significant portion of Southern California tourists destined for the Las Vegas resorts rely on Interstate 15. As a result, the State of Nevada has budgeted paying for 10% of the segment between Victorville and Barstow for Fiscal Year 1999, even though this segment of Interstate 15 is entirely within California.
With the completion of the Sloan to Las Vegas section, 143 miles are left to be expanded between Victorville and Sloan. About 30 miles will have truck lanes on them. Widening in other sections will include expanded eight- to ten-lane sections, as Interstate 15 is already six lanes between Victorville to Hesperia and eight lanes from Hesperia to the Interstate 215 in Devore/Glen Helen. Nevada is also contributing
a portion of the funds for the Interstate 40/Interstate 15 reconstruction in Barstow.
Other high priority segments are:
- Primm to Sloan
- Baker to Yermo through those canyons
- Mountain Pass/Clark Mountain (making that segment eight lanes with the truck
- Lake Mead to Interstate 215 (again), this time widening it to up to 10 lanes and
Safety is the major concern along Interstate 15 from San Bernardino to Las Vegas. According to "Los Angeles to Vegas: 275 miles of gridlock: Everyone seems to come home at the same time" by David Strow (dated September 12, 1999 in the Las Vegas Sun), in 1998 about 6.25 million Southern Californians -- 20 percent of the valley's visitor total -- came to Las Vegas by car. Virtually all came along Interstate 15, the only major road connecting Las Vegas and Los Angeles. During the first six months of 1999, over 55 people died in accidents along between Barstow and Las Vegas.
To alleviate this, Caltrans and Nevada DOT officials have been working together to widen Interstate 15. Caltrans unveiled a $125 million widening project between Victorville and Barstow in 1999. Shortly thereafter, the project scope was expanded considerably to include improvements along Interstate 15 from Victorville north to Primm, revising the cost to $349 million (Source: www.newschoice.com - "Road work begins on I-15," dated June 07, 2001 by Chuck Mueller). Of this amount, $16 million is to be funded by the State of Nevada even though it is located within California. The project, now estimated to be completed in 2006, includes:
- Widening of Interstate 15 from Victorville to Barstow at a cost of $178 million
- Replacing ten bridges between Victorville and Barstow to accommodate additional lane in each direction
- Repaving 76 miles of freeway northeast of Barstow
- Constructing three truck lanes on southbound Interstate 15: an 18.4-mile downhill lane from Halloran Summit to Baker (summer 2003), a 3.6-mile uphill truck lane from Ghost Town Road near Yermo to Barstow (winter of 2004-fall of 2005), and an uphill, 3.7-mile truck lane from Afton Road to the Basin Road overcrossing will begin in the late summer of 2004 with completion expected in spring 2005
In the ISTEA/NHS/TEA-21 legislation, funds were specifically allocated for the heightening a bridge in Victorville to Caltrans standards ($1.8 million; Innovative Projects Item 61) and for the construction of an interchange one mile north of Palmdale Road on Interstate 15 ($2.7 million; Congestion Relief Item 24).
Long-range plans call for Interstate 15 to be six-laned from Barstow north to Primm, but it is unclear what the timetable will be for this improvement.
In addition to its contribution to California's planned improvements, Nevada DOT plans to widen Interstate 15 to six lanes from Interstate 215 south to Primm and the state line. Construction for this project is already underway.
The Los Angeles-Las Vegas Corridor has been considered for a magnetic levitation train that would approach speeds of 300 mph. However, this would cost over $6.8 billion (as of 1999) and is unlikely to be constructed due to the high cost.
Interstate 15/515 and U.S. 93-95 Spaghetti Junction
This massive interchange, nicknamed the Spaghetti Junction, is located adjacent to downtown Las Vegas. Connecting Interstate 15 with Interstate 515 and U.S. 93-95, the reconstructed interchange was completed in 2000 after years of work. Congestion Relief Item 9 of NHS/ISTEA appropriated $45 million for reconstruction of this interchange.One improvement from this designation that is written into the legislation include a reconstruction of the Interstate 15 and Interstate 515/U.S. 93-95 interchange in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada. Further, High Priority Corridors Funding Item 20 specifically states that of the $59.2 million appropriated for the Interstate 15/40 Corridors, $10.5 million is for the Nevada portion of Interstate 15, including the Interstate 15/Interstate 515/U.S. 93-95 interchange.
Las Vegas Beltway/Interstate 215
Since the 1990s, a new beltway has been constructed around the city of Las Vegas. This beltway began as a connector from Interstate 15 to McCarran International Airport, but since then has been extended east almost to connect directly with Interstate 515. In addition, the beltway has been constructed west and north to connect with the Summerlin Expressway. This segment west of Interstate 15 was largely funded locally and is signed as Clark County 215. The segment east of Interstate 15 is Interstate 215.
Interstate 17/40 Interchange Reconstruction - Flagstaff
The interchange of Interstates 17 and 40 in Flagstaff is undergoing major reconstruction, with completion expected in 2002. This reconstruction will update the cloverleaf interchange into a modern design, with flyover ramps. See the Arizona DOT Web Page for more information.
California 58 Improvements - Interstate 5 to Barstow via Bakersfield
California 58 is an expressway and freeway between Interstate 5 near Bakersfield east to Barstow via Mojave and Edwards Air Force Base. The highway is slated for various upgrades over the next several years. When completed, California 58 will be full freeway from Interstate 5 to Interstate 15.
Barstow Interchange Improvements
A major revision of the eastern end of California 58 was completed in Barstow. As part of the project to replace the 1950s-era interchanges between Interstate 15, Interstate 40, and California 58, the western terminus of California 58 was relocated south of Barstow, providing a high-speed link between Interstate 15 and California 58.
The link between California 58 and Interstate 15 has already been moved. The old New England "Y" interchange connection north of Barstow (the original routing of U.S. 466) was demolished, and a new California 58 interchange was constructed south of Barstow. The ACSC (Southern California AAA) map of Barstow illustrates the new connection; it is just south of the Bus. Loop Interstate 15/Main Street interchange (South Barstow).
In late July 2001, the City of Bakersfield identified an alignment for its beltway. For more information, go to the Bakersfield Bypass Study web page.
Consultants were hired to conduct a $1.9 million study to find alternatives for connecting the various freeways around the metropolitan area into a comprehensive transportation system. This includes the proposed Kern River Freeway alignment, California 99, California 58, and California 178. The consultants arrived at 21 possible alternatives, which was reduced to five alternatives (3, 6, 9, 13, and 15) in February 2001.
This process was completed in June 2001, and through public comment, the final five alternatives were put up for comment. All five options had these similarities:
- Freeway connection between Hageman Road and California 204
- Improvements to the connection between Oak Street and 24th Street
- Improvements to the section of 24th Street that runs through Westchester
- Expressway along the north side of the Kern River in the alignment of the proposed Kern River Freeway
However, the five final alignments differ on how they tie the disconnected ends of California 178, California 58 and California 204 together with California 99 and Interstate 5. Alternative 15, which was ultimately approved in July 2001, would provide for a direct freeeway connection between California 99 and Interstate 5 via Seventh Standard Road. The freeway would then merge with California 99 to California 204, then connect with California 58 east of downtown Bakersfield. This entire facility, from Interstate 5 to California 58, would be controlled access.
Money had been appropriated in the ISTEA/NHS legislation for the improvement of California 58, including the new Interstate 15/California 58 interchange and the $4.7 million of ISTEA/NHS-mandated improvements to California 58 in the Bakersfield area (City/State Urban Access and Mobility Item 86).
California 58 between Bakersfield and Barstow used to be part of U.S. 466, a pre-1964 U.S. route that linked San Luis Obispo, Bakersfield, Barstow, Las Vegas, and Kingman. Caltrans applied for California 58 to be included in the Interstate Highway System twice, but it was denied both times.
Although not an official plan, Karl Davisson has floated his own proposal to rectify this problem by constructing a beltway around Bakersfield. His maps display not only a possible routing of such a beltway but also show how the proposed western extension of the California 58 freeway would be routed close to the Kern River. The routing that goes near the Kern River connects California 119 to California 178. California 58 would be left at its dead end at California 99. This is because California 58 would have to traverse Bakersfield's financial district and downtown to get to the "Kern River Freeway" alignment.
Page Updated June 9, 2002.