Old US 99 at Weldon Summit

US 99, known as “The Old Road” in the Santa Clarita area, has had a varied past. It was first built through this area in 1930 as a three-lane highway. This roadway, known then as the Newhall Alternate, would be the first of many versions of the road through this pass.

This is the last remaining uncovered stretch of the 1930 Newhall Alternate concrete. Motorcycle is on the 1951 alignment.
This is the last remaining uncovered stretch of the 1930 Newhall Alternate concrete. Motorcycle is on the 1951 alignment.

In 1949, the roadway was temporarily widened to four lanes by restriping and adding some paving to the shoulder. This was done as the real work to upgrade the highway wouldn’t commence for a couple of years. Evidence of this widening can still be seen today.

Double white striping from a "temporary" four-lane configuration of the old three-lane concrete. This was done in 1949 as an interim measure before the road was reconstructed as an expressway in 1951.
Double white striping from a “temporary” four-lane configuration of the old three-lane concrete. This was done in 1949 as an interim measure before the road was reconstructed as an expressway in 1951.

In 1951, US 99 was realigned and finally upgraded to an expressway, though this would not last long. Just south of this point, the highway was realigned again to accomodate a new freeway from the Tunnel Station Junction (US 6 and Foothill Blvd) to Sepulveda Junction (State Route 7). This freeway still exists today in part and serves as the “Truck Route” through the pass.

North view of the old southbound lanes just south of the summit.
North view of the old southbound lanes just south of the summit.

Starting in 1967 and ending in 1975, the pass was yet again the site of major construction. This time, little of the old highway would be utilized as the new route of Interstate 5 bypassed much of the existing route. Where it didn’t bypass the alignment, it was torn up and completely replaced with the current roadway.

US 99 would, however, serve as the main route one last time following the January 17, 1994 Reseda / Northridge earthquake. Portions of I-5 collapsed during the earthquake, resulting in a need for a quick replacement. The resulting detours created an alignment very similar to the pre-1967 highway, giving motorists (albeit not with joy) a chance to drive old US 99 again. Upgrades were made to the highway through the pass including repaving, guardrail, and a temporary prohibition on left turns. Sadly, for highway historians, this resulted in the loss of the 1951 concrete and some curbing. It is a price to pay to help keep California’s Backbone functioning during a crisis.

Looking northerly toward Gavin Canyon. This was the location where I-5 was temporarily rerouted onto old US 99 in 1994.
Looking northerly toward Gavin Canyon. This was the location where I-5 was temporarily rerouted onto old US 99 in 1994.

Ridge Route Centennial Celebration Coming Soon!

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This year, the Ridge Route will be celebrating its 100 year anniversary. While the roadway is still not fully open to travel and has not been since January 2005, it is still there and still coming up to its century mark. This celebration will be held in Lebec at the El Tejon School, located near the top of Grapevine Grade on Lebec Road. For more information, please contact the Ridge Route Communities Museum. The road also needs your help and pressure to reopen the roadway to the public. For more information about this issue, contact the Ridge Route website.

From the Ridge Route Communities website:

Centennial

CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION – 10/3

It has been 100 years since the Ridge Route Road opened

Come celebrate with the Ridge Route Preservation Organization and the Ridge Route Communities Museum & Historical Society

from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

at El Tejon School right on the old two lane highway

across I-5 from Fort Tejon

There will be displays, antique automobiles, food, music,

souvenirs and a panel of speakers at 1 p.m.

Also that day there will be a

Living History Program at Fort Tejon

Highway Resources Page

I’ve recently added a new section to the socalregion website. I noticed the site was lacking in resources for local roadways. In particular, information on how to contact various local agencies for road projects, logs, and maintenance. With this in mind, I’ve added a new page to help others get their roads fixed and find out more information about those roadways. I’ve called it the “Southern California Highway Resources” page, which can be found on the Southern California Highways page and via this link.

Happy 165th Birthday, California!

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The State of California is celebrating its 165th birthday on September 9, 2015. On that date in 1850, California was formally admitted to the union as the 31st state. Our state has had quite a run so far, with major gold strikes, oil, military battles, population growth, water “wars”, technological innovations, and scientific achievements. Today, we are the most populous state with nearly 39 million people. Despite it all, we as a state persevere. We have the 8th largest economy in the world despite the general economic downturn.

California State Capitol Building in Sacramento, CA.
California State Capitol Building in Sacramento, CA.

So, Happy Birthday, California!

State Flag graphic courtesy of the California Department of Parks and Recreation.