Great Sites/Bay Area Road Information
Other areas of TSR are devoted to the highways, railways, etc. that will be. This page is devoted to roads that were, as well as roads that still are—but may be different than before. You can say it's a who's who of past Bay Area Road Projects. Or you can just keep reading and learn some stuff.
But first, let's link you up to other informative road-related sites:
AARoads.com - Photo guides through pretty much every highway/freeway in the country. Up-to-date enough to feature the new San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge.
CalTrans - This agency handles all highway/freeway construction in California.
CostToDrive.com - Planning a trip? Estimate your travel expenses here.
GasBuddy.com - Up--to-date tracker of lowest gas prices in the SF Bay Area.
Interstate-Guide.com - Self-explanatory; though about a decade out of date, great pics and info.
Mr. Roadshow - Does a regular write-in column for the San Jose Mercury News.
SFGenealogy.com - The stories behind San Francisco street names.
VTA.org - Santa Clara County agency responsible for most (local) road projects in the San Jose area.
Both the above and below sections will continue to grow as new facts/links are uncovered, so check back semi-regularly. But not too often. Every couple of weeks or so seems appropriate.
Until 1992, State Route 37 was a signalized surface road through its entire Vallejo segment. That year, the intersection of 37—also known as Marine World Parkway after the nearby theme park since renamed Six Flags Discovery Kingom—and Fairgrounds Drive was removed, with an overpass built to take 37 traffic over Fairgrounds.
Remaining signalized intersections at Mini Drive, Broadway, Sonoma Blvd (State Route 29) and Sacramento Street continued to bog down commutes; finally in 2005 a new elevated freeway was completed. Hard to believe today, but the road now known as Lewis Brown Drive was once Marine World Parkway/37—railroad crossing and all.
(Drivers on Lewis Brown Drive who turn south on B.W. Williams Drive (Walnut Street until 1996) will immediately notice a very thin deserted road—this was specifically built to be Lewis Brown Drive in the late 1990's. It never really served any other purpose and when the city decided to shift the name Lewis Brown Drive to the former Route 37, this useless stretch was simply fenced off.
Springs Road was open at the railroad tracks until 1986; pavement markings warning of a railroad crossing are still clearly visible before and after the eastern barrier...which has been repeatedly knocked down in the years since its erection.
The four-way intersection of Wilson Avenue, Mare Island Way, Tennessee Street and the Mare Island Causeway was once a five-way intersection with Butte Street one block to the east. In 1996, Wilson and M.I. Way were shifted west to create a new intersection, leaving Butte and what is now known as "Old Wilson Avenue" as their own intersection with Tennessee—now unsignalized.
As part of this project, Mare Island Way intersections with Alabama and Ohio Streets were closed, and Trinity Street—which once ran all the way to M.I. Way—was re-routed to an elbow curve with Louisiana Street (which never reached M.I. Way). Harbor Way was extended a bit east to facilitate access to Trinity. A portion of the former M.I. Way road still exists, joining the end of Alabama Street with an alley one block north (and still signed as the 900 block of Mare Island Way, presumably to save the residents some hassle.)
Curtola Parkway was known as Maryland Street before being renamed in the honor of ex-mayor Terry Curtola in the late 1980's.
Admiral Callaghan Lane did indeed use to be one intersection instead of two at Redwood Parkway. Before 1990, ACL formed a standard four-way intersection at Redwood, with Kathy Ellen Drive intersecting one block east. But northbound ACL's turn to meet Redwood was steep, blind and relatively narrow. After too many collisions, ACL was rerouted onto what was Kathy Ellen Drive, with the latter road becoming a long cul-de-sac with no vehicle access to Redwood. (An exit from I-80 replaced the old stretch of ACL; it does not crest downhill and has excellent visibility.)
Today, where the brand-new Target stands downtown two blocks east of Mathilda Avenue, stood a mall from the late 1970's to the mid-2000's. Taafe and Murphy Streets run from El Camino all the way to Evelyn Avenue today, but until about 2007 a huge parking garage interrupted the roads at Iowa Street. (McKinley Street was also interrupted by this garage between Mathilda and Sunnyvale Avenues before being restored.)
Signals stood at the Murphy/Iowa intersection, which also served as the Target parking lot/garage entry. Unlike today's Target/garage combo, shoppers had to exit the garage and proceed a short distance on foot to reach the one-level store.
Before construction of Central Expressway and related roads/ramps, Arques Avenue ran all the way to Mathilda Avenue.
SAN JOSE, CA
This one isn't tough to figure out: Lonus Street in San Jose was formerly the lower half of Sunol Street before being divided by the 1960's construction of I-280. Near the corner of Lonus and Lincoln Avenue, a "Sunol Street" curb etching is still clearly visible.
Before 2004, State Route 87 was essentially a signal-controlled expressway between I-280 and US-101 known as Guadalupe Parkway. (I had unearthed a photo of 87's pre-freeway intersection with Taylor Street...that has vanished from my hard drive. When I find it, it'll be posted.)
Moorpark Avenue once ran all the way past Sunol Street, including intersections with Meridian and Race. But the portion past College Drive was largely wiped out by Interstate 280. Modern-day Parkmoor Avenue east of Meridian runs where Moorpark once did.
The interchange of I-880/SR 262 (Mission Blvd.) was radically different than today; Warren Avenue did not have an overpass and was broken up as "West" and "East" segments. An on/off ramp from Gateway Blvd. facilitated traffic to/from the Bayside District with 880. With the 2009 reconstruction widening and lengthening the Mission ramp to 880S, plus ramps added at the new Warren overpass, the Gateway ramp fell obsolete and was eliminated.
Below are images of the former ramps at the Gateway/Lakeview Blvds. intersection post-project, as well as interchange before/after pics courtesy of Google Maps and VTA.org:
UNION CITY, CA
Straight from Ray from UC's Public Works Dept: Why the heavily-traveled Whipple Road is interrupted and impassable at the railroad tracks was a mystery to me forever—it made no sense. Turns out that when the area of Union City west of the tracks was developed, the Union Pacific Railroad made clear it would not allow an at-grade crossing at Whipple unless it removed another one first—something about exceeding a limit. Whipple was reluctantly denied. (Scoop: I Street will lose its crossing in Union City to allow for a new at-grade crossing for the BART parking lot/station. Thanks, Ray.)
Huntwood Avenue used to intersect Harder Road, but when the road was lowered under the Amtrak tracks in 2003, Huntwood was forced into a cul-de-sac.
SAN BRUNO, CA
What's up with those unused overpasses at Interstates 380 and 280? 380 was originally supposed to extend from the San Francisco Airport all the way to State Route 1 along the coast when plans were drawn up in the 1960's—those two bridges would have carried 380 traffic to/from SR-1 in Pacifica. This is also why the freeway is so wide despite being so short—it was not supposed to end at 280. Concern over building directly above the San Andreas Fault helped quash the Pacifica portion. (If you see construction vehicles/materials on or around the bridges, they are NOT working on a 380 extension—the area is used for storage.)