California 94

A trailblazer for SR 94 directs motorists north along 19th Street at Market Street in the Sherman Heights neighborhood of San Diego. 19th Street connects with California 94 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Freeway) east to Lemon Grove, El Cajon, Jamul, Campo and Tecate. Photo taken 07/25/14.

California 94 is an east-west route between San Diego and Boulevard via Jamul and Campo, coming close to the international border with Mexico several times. Most of the state route is two lanes, with the section between Tecate Junction and San Diego part of the National Highway System. While traffic counts are lower in the eastern sections of the state route, traffic steadily increases as one travels west. The section of California 94 between Rancho San Diego and downtown San Diego is a freeway.

Despite its length and importance, California 94 does not leave San Diego County for its entire journey.

California 94 Highway Guides

Starting as a freeway near downtown, California 94 is also known as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Freeway between Interstate 5 and California 125. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Freeway has more signs bearing the name of the slain civil rights leader than any other in Southern California. This is due to a major sign replacement project that occurred in 1998-1999 and brought the first reflective overhead guide signs to San Diego. California 94 was one of the first freeways in San Diego to receive reflective signs, because the newer signs meet the new Caltrans signing standard for reflective signage.

It is also one of the few freeways to be as well known by its name as well as its number. According to a San Diego Union-Tribune article from April 25, 1999, the freeway was designated as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Freeway in 1989, approximately ten years prior to the major sign installation. At that time, then-Senator Waddie Deddeh indicated that private contributions (not tax funds) would cover the cost of any sign installations with the Martin Luther King, Jr. name. However, in September 1998, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) authorized the expenditure of $1.4 million by the city of San Diego from its share of a half-cent, countywide sales tax.

As a side note, a companion effort in the mid-1980s to rename east-west Market Street in San Diego as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Way was implemented for a time (by City Council vote) and later rescinded (after a public vote) due to local opposition. More on this brief renaming of Market Street can be found at The Starting Line - Looking Back on When San Diego Said 'No' to Honoring Martin Luther King. As a result, California 94 is the longest road in San Diego to be named in honor of Dr. King.

The following list provides the opening dates for the California 94 freeway, courtesy of C.J. Moon:

  • Interstate 5 to 22nd Street - Circa 1963
  • 22nd Street to 32nd Street - Circa 1959
  • 32nd Street to California 15 - Circa 1959 (widened January 13, 1972)
  • California 15 to Las Chollas Creek - Circa 1951 (widened Circa 1958)
  • Las Chollas Creek to Interstate 805 - Circa 1957 (widened September 17, 1969)
  • Interstate 805 to Euclid Avenue - Circa 1957 (widened January 29, 1974)
  • Euclid Avenue to Federal Blvd On Ramp - Circa 1956 (widened June 4, 1980)
  • Federal Blvd to College Grove Way - Circa 1956 (widened September 17, 1969)
  • College Grove Way to College Avenue - Circa 1956 (widened September 23, 1971)
  • College Avenue to Broadway On Ramp - Circa 1956 (widened September 17, 1969)
  • Broadway On Ramp to Grove Street - Circa 1957 (widened September 17, 1969)
  • Grove Street to California 125 - Circa 1957 (widened September 21, 1989)
  • California 125 to Campo Road - September 21, 1976
  • Campo Road to Bancroft - September 21, 1976 (widened December 21, 1988)
  • Bancroft to Kenwood Drive - Circa 1963 (widened July 24, 1970)
  • Kenwood Drive to Sweetwater Springs - July 24, 1970
  • Sweetwater Springs to Avocado Boulevard - July 24, 1970 (widened October 31, 1984)
California 94 scenes
Traveling south on 16th Street, this trailblazer for California 94 is posted prior to the F Street intersection in the East Village neighborhood of downtown San Diego. Continue south on 16th Street to G Street to connect to California 94 east. Photos taken 01/26/09.
One block south, this shield is posted along southbound 16th Street prior to the G Street intersection in the East Village neighborhood of downtown San Diego. To the east, California 94 begins in just a few blocks from here. Photos taken 01/26/09.
Northbound 19th Street approaches Market Street and, a few blocks later, approaches an on-ramp to California 94 east to Lemon Grove and Rancho San Diego. Photos taken 07/25/14.
These signs are posted along westbound Home Avenue at the Interstate 805 and California 94 (Martin Luther King Jr, Freeway) interchange in San Diego (community of City Heights). Photos taken 07/08/14.
Further west, westbound Home Avenue approaches the intersection with Federal Boulevard and the on-ramp to California 94 (Martin Luther King Jr, Freeway) west to downtown San Diego. Photos taken 07/08/14.
This freeway entrance shield assembly is posted along westbound Home Avenue at the on-ramp to California 94 (Martin Luther King Jr, Freeway) in Fairmount Park. Photo taken 07/08/14.
Still in the city of San Diego, northbound Euclid Avenue meets the on-ramp to California 94 west near the Encanto and Webster communities. The freeway entrance shield assemblies indicate both California 94 and Martin Luther King Jr., Freeway. Photos taken 07/28/14.
Built in 1929, the Sweetwater River bridge used to carry California 94 east from Rancho San Diego toward Jamul, Campo, and points east. This through steel truss (Parker truss) bridge is the only of its kind in San Diego County. The bridge has three spans, is only 22.50 feet wide, was built by Pacific Iron and Steel Company of Los Angeles, and is 460 feet long. With such a narrow width, it eventually became obsolete, and the modern highway bridge replaced it. Currently, the bridge is maintained by San Diego County for pedestrians and bicyclists. All views look east. Photos taken 08/22/04.
Briefly looking west, this view shows the Sweetwater River bridge's original approach. Photo taken 08/22/04.
These views look mostly to the east and south at a location between Cameron Corners and Boulevard in eastern San Diego County. Photos taken 08/22/04.

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Page Updated August 4, 2014.

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