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Alps on the Road

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J N Winkler:

--- Quote from: AlpsROADS on April 10, 2011, 02:06:55 AM ---No time for zoom after that, the freeways have an INSANE amount of button copy still. California has a very long way to go to replace their signs.
--- End quote ---

Their heart isn't in it, frankly, though there is considerable variation between districts.  District 8 (basically, the Inland Empire) let several contracts a few years ago to change out massive numbers of signs on I-10, I-40, and I-15--each contract had between 30 and 40 sign design sheets covering mostly rural lengths of freeway.  District 4 did a huge sign replacement contract several years ago for San Mateo County, District 3 has had one or two large sign replacement contracts, Districts 1, 9, and 10 have few freeway signs to replace, District 5 has done one medium-sized sign replacement, and District 11 did a large sign replacement in 2002 and again several years later.  Meanwhile, Districts 7 and 12 have been sitting on their hands.  I have seen little to no activity out of District 12, but District 7 tends to let small chickenfeed signing contracts (just three or four panels per contract) at infrequent intervals.  The most ambitious signing work District 7 has done recently (which also, incidentally, makes Jake very angry) is actually more to do with restoration of the Arroyo Seco Parkway designation on Route 110 north of the Four Level than a sheeting upgrade.

In contrast to Caltrans footdragging, TxDOT is more or less completely changed out now.  To accomplish that they let multiple signing contracts at a rate of about one per month for about five or six years.  My collection of TxDOT sign design sheets recently passed the 10,000 mark and I would estimate that at least one-third of that is from the early-noughties sign sheeting upgrades.  The Houston District alone did its sheeting upgrades in two major contracts, each of which had over 200 sign design sheets.

@ Doug thanks for the heads up. I may check with you again from New Mexico next week.
@ J N, I noticed that replacement has happened in many long stretches, such as I-40 near the border, but generally for exit signs. Signs on ramps are often missed, or signs that aren't exit related such as distance signs, highway names, weigh station, etc. I've noticed a surprising number of LGS - non-reflective background with reflective letters, as opposed to button copy. They get mixed with small BGS at some interchanges, often fooling me.

Day 3: I've gotten enough kicks for one day. I dodged some traffic bullets heading down into L.A. on a Monday morning. The 10 flowed clear through the 5 and past the 110. In fact, the only traffic I did hit was on the Figueroa stretch of the 110 as I headed south toward the harbor. It eventually cleared up at the 5 interchange. No way will CA 110 ever be I-110, by the way, so don't ask. It's a crazily fun old-school freeway from the 1930s, barely updated (still some 5 MPH ramps), barely any signs to tell you where to go. It's reminiscent of NY parkways with even more curves. I just wish it was 30 miles longer so I could keep enjoying it. Wasn't expecting a bridge on CA 47. What a bridge! I'm so glad the tolls are gone now (obvious where they were on the east side).
Wait, now there's traffic on, of all roads, old 66 (CA 2) at the 405. Meanwhile, every place I crossed the 405, it was free-flowing, What kind of topsy-turvy world is this? (It's 11:30 when I'm writing this). In general, I've been driving slowly, especially by my standards, to capture all the signs and scenery I can in both directions. Yet somehow, I'm ahead of schedule at this point. I get a special surprise - button copy street signs and old CA 2 shields in Beverly Hills of all places, where you'd expect every sign to be new and shiny. Best coincidence ever: Shortly after thinking the song to myself, I tune to 98.7 FM in the middle of Beverly Hills and the eponymous Weezer song has just started. That is just freaky.
The open road tries to start where Pasadena ends, but it keeps getting bogged down again and doesn't really open up until after San Bernardino. It's incredible how far out Route 66 stays plugged up with commerce and traffic. All these traffic lights are wearing on me even more because I still have a sun exposure headache from Sunday. (It slowly faded over the course of the day, thankfully.) After eating at In N Out I'm now 30 minutes behind schedule and falling fast. I sure hope I built in enough slack at the end of the trip. Don't get me wrong, I love every minute I'm spending, but I don't want it to get dark before I've seen everything I want to.

People in California drive a lot like New Jerseyans - all different speeds (as much as 20+ over or 10+ under the limit), in any lane they want. I feel at home, which is not the point of a vacation. There is a slight difference - Californians seem to have no idea when they need to turn or what lane they need to be in, often cutting across three or more lanes with little notice.
Once I leave San Bernardino, the trip speeds up considerably and by Victorville I'm back on track again. Traffic finally disappears by Hodge, and pretty much never returns to the Mother Road. I set my cruise control to an appropriate 66 MPH for the remainder of the day (a bit more for the parts on I-15/40 where the old road is a long dead-end or untraversable). Outside Barstow, in Lenwood, Route 66 widens to four lanes. Just as it does so, a hobo throws a stick at my car. Thank goodness for the Loss/Damage Waiver. Pays for itself in peace of mind.
Did I mention the scenery is amazing in eastern California? The scenery is amazing. There. I noticed one of the famous berms east of Chambless where people leave their names spelled out in bleached rocks on the side. I decided I had to do the same, since I'm never coming back this way. Not seeing any ready sources of bleached rocks, I walked a bit to the nearest former message that was hopelessly ruined, picked it apart and assembled ALPS. I decided it would be too much time to make ROADS next to it, given that the sun was starting to set. Besides, my hands were dusty and I had a couple of small cactus spines in there from the dirt. (Just a fact of handling dirt/rocks in California, doesn't bother me.) If you come by that way, let me remind you to watch where you step. Rattlesnakes could hide behind rocks or in dense brush, but there are also a lot of holes in the ground. They could be gophers... or scorpions... or something else. Steer clear, there are plenty of paths up to the berm. It's really eerie to turn off your car, step onto Route 66, and hear nothing but the wind. No animals, no other cars. Face the mountains and you will discover yourself a little more.
 I'm assuming there are no police on Route 66 except in towns, so I probably could have gone any speed I damn well pleased. I tried 75 MPH for a spell until I started seeing cars again (east of Amboy) and decided 66 was less risky just in case. I figured I had the time to spare (actually, turns out maybe I could have used another 10 minutes of daylight), and also, I saved just enough gas at 66 MPH to be able to fill up in Arizona tomorrow morning. $$$ One final thanks to AAA maps, which showed an alignment of Route 66 heading up to US 95 north of I-40. I was going to go straight on National Trails Highway, which is the more modern route (40s or 50s) that has been mostly overlaid by I-40. The original route is in much rougher condition but avoids 17 miles of boring, un-historic freeway. So, thanks, AAA!

Route (CA): 150 EB-126 WB-U turn at US 101-118 EB-210 EB-future/proposed 710 stub-over to 110 SB-47 NB-710 NB-10 WB-Santa Monica Pier-old 66 EB (brief stints on I-15 and I-40 as needed)
Clinched: CA 110, 118, 126; old US 66 in CA; I-110, I-710
Notes: CA 110 is signed with a reassurance right where it used to begin (at old 66). The next sign correctly says "TO." I-110 is really freaking wide. 4-5 lanes each way, full shoulders, HOV lanes, train tracks. Has to be at least 200 feet overall, and all elevated. There is one CA 66 shield eastbound (appears to be a city job) and an EAST banner without a 66 shield underneath. That's it. Is CA 66 a dead route now?
East of Barstow, old 66 does something I've never seen before. I guess because it rains so infrequently out here, rather than have culverts or short bridges the road just dips down into the wash and back out again. (There are a few stretches of 66 with short wooden bridges, though, such as down toward Amboy.) The dips are highlighted by the railroad next to it, which crosses a bridge every thousand feet or so. Noting where the bridge is tells you where the next dip in the road is. Most of the dips can be traversed at 55+ MPH, but at least one was signed at 40 MPH. Railroad crossings are signed at 20 MPH when you can go 40, but there's one at 10 MPH that you'd better go 10 over.

yep, you took Goffs Road heading into Needles. 

also, Collision Damage Waiver comes free if you rent with a Visa card.  Look it up!

I looked it up. I didn't see anything.

I've had it since I got my first credit card in 2006- I've never made a claim with it though (and don't know anyone who has), so I'm not sure how well it works


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