Friday, January 29, 2010

East County Construction

What the heck is going on out there in Santee??  I hear that all the time from friends that live in the east county.  On highway 67 it  looks like their building 10 bridges to nowhere.  The bridges are in fact the end of the 52 that will stretch from the 5 all the way east.  Caltrans timeline has it completed by the end of this year (2010)..we'll see.  The project from the 125 to the 67 is called "Sunny Side Gateway", homage no doubt to our fabulous east county weather...don't think I'll be using that on the air.    What do you get for $255 million?  Two lanes each way...hmm....remember the last 52 project over the Mission Trails Summit?  It opened with 2 lanes over the hill and was a mess from day one.  Let's hope 4 lanes are enough. By the way, the extention of the 905 in Otay Mesa between the 805 and Otay Border will be 6 lanes... Caltrans claims time savings of 10 minutes on the commute...on this point I think their actually underselling it....even with 4 lanes, if you've spent any time on Mission Gorge Rd lately you know what I mean, time savings will be huge.
Want to read more here's a link to the PDF...

The other east county headache these days has been the 8 east of the 67....the left lane is being extended from 2nd to Greenfield, but only eastbound.  Project completion by late 2012.  No word on westbound help for your morning commute between Lake Jennings and E. Main.

It's on the drawing board at least....more lanes on 125 at Mt. Helix between 94 and 8...that will help the daily bottleneck but to me the most exciting part of this proposal....(yes exciting..sad isn't it)...the ramp from South 125 to East 94.  Too bad it's only proposed.  Here's the bottom line from Caltrans......

The total estimated cost of the project ranges from $226
million to $336 million. There is $60 million programmed for
the project as part of the State Transportation Congestion
Relief Program (TCRP). Due to the state’s budget situation,
most of these funds are not available.

Oh well, we've got the Sunny Side Gateway going for us.   See you on the

Monday, January 25, 2010

When our kids drive.

I have one teen driver, my 17 year old daughter.  Do we ever get used to seeing them pull out of the driveway without at least some minor panic?  I've given this much thought over this past weekend following a fatal crash that involved a teen driver near Steele Canyon High last Friday afternoon.  The collision killed a 50 year old father and left others scarred for life. It just so happens that because I live in the east county and have similar aged kids, we have crossed paths with those involved.  Six degrees of separation and an entire community is affected. Just as those in other parts of the county were surely affected by the rash of teen accidents late last year in Escondido and Rancho Santa Fe.
My wife Terri, wise as she is,  brought home what I think is the reason we feel the panic when the kids head out on the streets.  We were talking about the cruel comments to the on-line article about this recent crash and she said "...he wasn't doing anything we haven't all done when we were kids...." can't argue with that.  How did we survive, right?  How often have we said that.  But for dumb luck many of us wouldn't be around today, or at least heavily scarred.  Those that are responsible should pay a price, as this young man will.  But be honest, it could happen to anyone, your kid or mine.  So what's the solution?  Not really sure there is one, but let's start by bening honest with ourselves and our teenage drivers.....maybe if we level with them about our past mistakes they will avoid making some of their own, not all mind you, but it would be good to have them around to pass it on to their kids........see you on the

Thursday, January 21, 2010

When it rains in San Diego

I was raised in a rain forest. Vancouver Island, British Columbia where barely a week went by without rain but I never remember anything like this. It's probably a good thing it rarely rains in San Diego., it gets ugly fast. In  the North West (or Canada's South West)  the rain is steady and soft and pleasant. Here, well it all comes at once doesn't it? Heavy and hard and scary.  Our 8-10 inch yearly allotment in just a handful of storms...storms... I remember laughing that we called rainy days storms....not anymore. With "our" rain comes flash flood advisories,  small creek and urban flooding warnings, wind warnings, small craft warnings, thunderstorm watches and chain requirements in the mountains....all that can and has happened in just one day!  In the North West never heard of a "fast river rescue" or barricades blocking entire routes.  Spend some time in Mission Valley this week and you can watch your tax money at work. Now, after the major fires it's even worse.  Sand bags go fast and the erosion can collapse streets and homes and add more suffering to those still dealing after the burn.  On the news you'll see the mulit million dollar homes sliding into the ocean but as is often the case, tv doesn't tell the whole story.  Families in parts of San Diego County are still reeling from the burns and many live in trailers on property that they see washed away by the storms.  I know many people in Dehesa, Campo, Crest, Boulevard, Julian, Fallbrook, Valley Center and even Rancho Bernardo who are nervous as hell right now.
Car wrecks come with the territory, power outages too but it's not all apocalyptic.....
Back in the day I developed some fond memories of flying over the county following a storm....big ones like the El Nino induced rains of the 90's......I remember the overflow fall created when the water in Lake Hodges crested the damn near Del Dios Hwy in Rancho Santa Fe.  The ensuing floods covered all but the greens of the snobby golf courses downstream of the San Dieguito River and there sunning himself on the 9th hole of Farbanks Ranch CC....a seal,  happy as can be, miles from the Pacific Ocean.  Remember the LA Bajada Dip?  A low point in east Encinitas/RSF that flooded severely every year until it was bridged in the late 90's...I can't tell you how many hours I spent overhead, circling,  watching, and enjoying the scene below as driver after driver believed that they would be the one to make it through the barricades.  Saw lots of rescues there, nothing serious, just ego deflating help from the roof of their car as their vehicle drifted away...I think firefighters probably had something better to do.  Maybe they convinced the state to build the bridge!
Hang in there, the rainbows will come....another great post-storm memory.....imagine flying through the sun showers enveloped 360 degrees by a rainbow...bring on the rainbows!
Please be safe.  See you on the

Monday, January 18, 2010

Rainy Days

We all know it's coming, some of us prepare out property with sand bags.  But most of us never think about changing our attitudes on the freeway....until it's too late.  This week take a moment to prepare for very difficult commutes.  Plan to leave early, leave your motorcycle at home ( I did and plan to all week)... those tips seem obvious but you'd be surprised.  You know the barricades will be up in Mission Valley, ramps will be slippery and mud and rocks will come rolling off the hillsides.  I've found that most accidents during our storms involve just one car...sideways on the shoulder or worse, overturned and over the side.  On and off ramps are waiting to bite you and invariably the water will collect in the right lanes of the freeway. Plan accordingly.
As I write this on Monday afternoon we've been hit with overturns, flooding, closures, slides, trees down , power outages (dark signal lights).  Be safe, slow down, keep vigilant and stay off the phone.
See you on the
Tuesday that was a storm!  Tornado warnings in San Diego?  Very rare.  CHP and other agencies hopping all afternoon....noon to 3pm today  CHP responded to 94 accidents.  Power outages throughout the county and more systems on the way later this week. Plan ahead, slow down and lights on.

Friday, January 15, 2010

What about the South Bay?

As we head into this 3 day weekend (for some) MLK holiday Monday, it seems to be a great time to discuss the Border and South Bay traffic in general.  This past summer I was invited to the Customs and Border Protection facility at San Ysidro to see how the traffic flow is handled, smuggling surveillance and the like. Really what I was most curious about is how they come up with the wait times, unfortunately it's not very scientific.  They ask drivers but you can imagine the variety of responses....."Jesus I've been in line for at LEAST 2 hours!"...when 45 mins is more like it.  They also look out their window and estimate the wait by using landmarks...OK, I can relate to that....exactly what I have done for 2 decades.  Over the river, 1 hr....beyond the cloverleaf 90  mins...etc.  Problem with that is BPP can't see beyond a couple of hundred yards from their windows!  Bottom's anyone's guess.  So when you hear of 2 hr plus waits....take it with a grain of salt my friend.  While were at it, waits getting into Mexico are even harder to judge, and now that the Mexican officials are checking more often, what with their new facility and all, it's just going to get worse.  Does anyone go to TJ anymore?  Can't remember the last time I took the family.  Let me say this just to please my sister who lives in San Felipe....the gulf or east coast of Baja is totally different than TJ, Rosarita and Ensinada....very little violence, friendly and a whole lot warmer.   There you go sis!  Wait, wasn't this blog supposed to be about South Bay?
OK, the South Bay Expressway...use it?  Not sure how many people do but the commutes on the 805 still get  pretty darn severe, especially in the afternoon.  Telegraph Canyon Rd is a pain in the morning  and 5 always seems to be rough past the bridge...bridge traffic a story on its own right?  The few times I have used the Toll 125 is to go shopping and it's always an unpleasant experience...forgot cash, don't have the correct change and it ends up costing me the 5 bucks in my wallet and one time the machine just plain wasn't working.  Of course I got the nasty note in the mail a few weeks later and had to argue my way out of a fine.  Too much hassle...leave it for the New Yorkers.  The widening of the 905 east of the 805 is going to help lots, past Brown Field to the Otay crossing is usually a mess...west of the 508 the 905 is a waste of money.  Story has it that years ago some Congressman got pork stuck on to some bill to build it.....pork money and waste, imagine that.  South Bay Freeway (54) works well I think.  Now that its wider east of the 805 out to Bonita and onto the Spring Valley section of the 125. Good job Caltrans.  What do you like as your north/south alternates when the freeways are a mess....Broadway?  National City Blvd?  4th Ave or Palm?  Euclid?  Lots of choices, your friends in Escondido would be jealous.
Be safe...see you on the

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Working our way out of gridlock

The latest issue is a group protesting the proposed widening of 5 from La Jolla to Oceanside...long way off....5/808 allready the widest freeway in the world?  22 lanes at the split....Joni Mitchell would be horrified.  I love those new bypass a good job of easing the merge/split...rarely does it get as rough there as it did in the past. Ah life in paradise. Caltrans has been busy for years trying to move traffic on San Diego freeways.  A couple of their biggest projects are almost complete.  The 15 though RB with the new HOV lanes seems to be helping both AM and PM commutes.  Remember the mess every afternoon Miramar to RB?  These days it moves pretty well unless there's a crash. BUT...with every daily bottlenecks occur as the HOV's dump out past Lake Hodges.  What about the morning commute on 15, huge improvement.  Rarely gets tough RB to Penasquitos (again unless a crash)  even the Escondido trip is easier.  If you make that drive from Temecula every day you know what I mean.  No more 4-5 mile bumper to bumper 78 to Lake Hodges, just a bit by 78....nice.  While I'm talking about the 15, be honest, haven't you missed the exits off the HOV lanes?  Me too...very confusing.  Note to slow drivers...HOV's are go fast lanes, right?!
New lanes on 52 over Mission Trails Summit are a blessing.  That stretch was too narrow from day one! Life today is miserable on Mission Gorge in Santee...but just wait, 52 to 67 gonna be nice! Now we could use the same help on the 56.  Remember the hassle getting that last 4 miles finished?  Daily problems there..  What about the south bay?
Have you ever been to restaurant row Solana Beach during high tide????  Today's the careful on the 101 through San Elijo Lagoon...big wave Dave day.
Till next time....see you on the

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Traffic Evolves

The thing I love about my job is that it's different every day.  You may think that traffic is the same day after day but far from it.  Think about it.  Don't you recognize the slight shifts in patterns of your commute each day?  Sure you do.  That's what I do, report the changes, good and bad that occur on your ride to and from work.  It's more obvious when a huge crash causes lane closures and major delays but don't you get even more frustrated when you can't tell why it's so darn slow?  Nuances.  I love that word.  It's what makes us all stand out (or not) in our chosen line of work.  From watching you drive every day I've become familiar with what normal is, and the slightest changes you feel.  Clear by Del Mar Heights today and not 'till  Lomas Santa Fe the next?  What happened to that traffic on the 8, it was great in Hotel Circle today!  Factors that influence commutes here in San Diego include weather (are there worse drivers in the rain?), Mondays and Fridays tend to be light (does anyone work?) and of course summer.  Kids out, vacations, lot's of daylight.  Speaking of daylight what's with the first day of darkness after the time change, you would think we've never driven in the dark before!
So, as this blog Evolves, I'm going to share thoughts and ideas about traffic and life here in paradise.  What's improved over the years?  Gotten worse?  How do you deal?  Long commute or short?  Did Caltrans really help with that project? I hope you'll check back often.
See you on the