Caltrans Freeway Plans for the Bay Area

In the 1950’s and 1960’s traffic engineers ran wild with plans for urban freeways in the United States. The general consensus was that freeways had no downsides and were not visual blights, pollution emitters, and neighborhood dividers. Even as the public mood changed against freeways in the 1970’s and 1980’s, State Departments of Transportation continued to try to follow through with their grandiose plans for urban freeways.

This map shows plans for urban freeways in the San Francisco Bay Area. I was inspired to create this map when I saw several proposed freeway maps created by Caltrans from 1945 to 1986. These maps made me think of the vast changes in the geography of the area that these freeways would have created. CA 93 along San Pablo Dam Road would have ramped up suburban development around Tilden Regional Park, a Bay Area wilderness treasure, and CA 77, CA 13 and CA 61 would tear through the urban fabric of Oakland. Note that most of the freeways proposed in San Francisco were defeated early, in 1959, by the Freeway Revolts. I hope this map makes you think about the massive changes new freeways can make in undeveloped areas and inspire you to oppose the continuation of the 20th century pattern of wilderness-freeway-sprawl.

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About Karl Tingwald

Civil engineering student at the University of Southern California with a severe transportation compulsion.

Posted on April 20, 2011, in Policy and Politics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. There was another proposal for a Southern Crossing that would have extended SR 24 and SR 61 to a junction in the bay near Alameda. A suspension bridge with diamond-shaped towers crossed the bay to Hunter’s Point in San Francisco where one leg would have joined the Southern Freeway I-280, and another leg, SR-87 would have been built on filled bay lands east of US 101 to San Jose, There was also a proposal to extend the Central Freeway across the bay to Angel Island and up the Tiburon Peninsula to Marin.

  2. The 1986 routes are interesting to me. The 238 freeway extension between 580 an 680 would have been quite useful and far superior to and cheaper than the widened surface routing of 238 that is being built. On the eastern edge of the Bay area, the northernmost portion of what is drawn as 84 has been built as the SR-4 Bypass freeway and Vasco road (which was considered as a routing for 84) is being upgraded to a 4 lane divided road with a median barrier, which gets you functionally pretty close to a freeway except for the last 2 miles, which will have traffic lights. The southern leg of 84, which has been reroute to run west of Livermore also is being widened to a 4 lane divided road.

    One other project, not shown on the map, but dating from the mid 80’s also seems to be back on the drawing board – CA-239 which would run from where Vasco and the CA-4 bypass meet to Tracy (which is east of Livermore)

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