California State Route 54
State Route 54 (SR 54) is a state highway in the U.S. state of California that consists of two segments in San Diego County. The westernmost part of the highway is known as the South Bay Freeway, beginning at Interstate 5 (I-5) in National City and running along the Sweetwater River before ending at the intersection with SR 125 and Jamacha Boulevard near Spring Valley. SR 54 then resumes at SR 94 in Rancho San Diego as an undivided highway that leads to the city limits of El Cajon. County Route S17 (CR S17) connects the two portions of the highway; the center portion of SR 54 was never constructed.
SR 54 highlighted in red
|Defined by Streets and Highways Code § 354|
|Maintained by Caltrans and San Diego County|
|Length||14.212 mi (22.872 km)|
|West end||I-5 in National City|
|East end||SR 125 near Spring Valley|
|West end||SR 94 in Rancho San Diego|
|East end||Second Street at El Cajon city limit|
The first section of the freeway opened in 1963, east of I-805. The extension of the freeway west to I-5 was delayed to coincide with the construction of the Sweetwater River flood channel. While construction started in 1984, a court stopped the process for a few years, and this portion was not complete until 1992. The final section of freeway, which was upgraded from an expressway, opened in 2007, to coincide with the extension of SR 125 south to Otay Mesa.
SR 54 starts as a six-lane freeway from I-5 near the mouth of the Sweetwater River in National City. Both directions of the freeway are divided by the river; eastbound traffic traverses the south bank and westbound traffic traverses the north bank. The two sides join near the junction with I-805. The roadway continues east for several miles past the Westfield Plaza Bonita mall through suburban Paradise Hills in San Diego. As the freeway turns north in Bay Terraces, it merges with SR 125 north. The highways pass west of the Sweetwater Reservoir and Sweetwater Summit Regional Park, and the western segment of SR 54 ends at the Jamacha Boulevard exit in La Presa. Jamacha Boulevard veers northeast as an undivided highway through Spring Valley until it reaches Campo Road; it is only designated as County Route S17 (CR S17), while some maps do consider this part of SR 54.
The eastern segment of SR 54 runs concurrently with SR 94 from Jamacha Boulevard east through the unincorporated, but commercially developed, area of Rancho San Diego, and follows Campo Road about one-half mile (800 m) east. Passing near Cuyamaca College, SR 54 and CR S17 continue northeast on six-lane Jamacha Road to El Cajon, while Campo Road and SR 94 split off to the southeast. East of Brabham Street, four-lane SR 54 continues through suburban development to where it currently ends at the El Cajon city limit, though Jamacha Road extends into the city to the route's previous terminus at the intersection with I-8.
SR 54 is part of the California Freeway and Expressway System, but is not part of the National Highway System (though SR 125 is), a network of highways that are considered essential to the country's economy, defense, and mobility by the Federal Highway Administration. The route has three different names, including Jamacha Road from Campo Road to East Main Street in El Cajon, South Bay Freeway from I-805 to SR 94, and the Filipino-American Highway from the western terminus to SR 125. In early 2012, the interchange with I-5 was among the top ten most congested segments of highway in California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) District 11, which includes the San Diego metro area. In 2014, SR 54 had an annual average daily traffic (AADT) of 21,800 vehicles at the eastern end of the route, and 131,000 between I-805 and Reo Drive, the latter of which was the highest AADT for the highway.
The earliest road with a similar route to SR 54 was mentioned in newspapers in 1908, and was paved by 1935. The South Bay Freeway was constructed next as an expressway from National City to Spring Valley. The freeway west to I-5 and the Sweetwater River flood channel were built at the same time, although both were delayed due to environmental concerns and litigation. In the late 1990s and the 2000s, the entirety of the western portion of SR 54 was converted to a freeway, while the entire portion inside the El Cajon city limits was returned to that city.
A road through Jamacha is mentioned in The San Diego Union as early as February 1908, and was oiled in 1935 from US 80 (Main Street) around El Cajon to Sweetwater Valley and in other places by the Sweetwater River.
In 1956, the route of what would become the South Bay Freeway had been determined; it would run from Sweetwater Road in National City to Spring Valley and the intersection of Sweetwater Road and Jamacha Boulevard. Three years later, the California State Legislature added Route 280 from near the Sweetwater River to El Cajon to the state highway system. The South Bay Freeway was included in the county's 1960–1961 budget as the most important project. By 1961, E Street in Chula Vista continued along the Sweetwater River; it turned northeast and became Sweetwater Road before it entered into Lemon Grove.
Bids were accepted in November 1962 for the part of the freeway from eastern National City and Valley Road to La Presa and Jamacha Road; it was to loosely parallel Sweetwater Road. This portion of freeway opened on September 27, 1963, and the entire project cost $2.25 million (about $14 million in 2018 dollars); however, although it was a four-lane freeway, it was declared as an expressway since all intersections were at-grade intersections. While the road was originally planned to have eight lanes, only four were constructed due to the additional cost. Meanwhile, SR 54 was officially designated in the 1964 state highway renumbering as the road from I-5 near the Sweetwater River to I-8 in El Cajon, replacing Route 280.
Sweetwater River channelEdit
SR 54 was extended west as a freeway to I-5 from I-805 at the same time the Sweetwater River flood control channel was built; the state proposed routing the flood channel in between the two roadways of the freeway in 1963, and it would also delineate the boundary between the cities of Chula Vista and National City. Later that year, the county proposed an extension of the freeway east to US 80 and Third Street in El Cajon. In 1966, the U.S. Army's Board of Engineers supported the construction of the flood channel, to protect future development in the surrounding region from floods; the integration of SR 54 was included in the proposal.
Two years later, county officials expressed concerns over the delay of state and federal approval and considered building the freeway without the flood control component of the project. The county hoped to build both projects at the same time to save $4 million (about $22 million in 2018 dollars) in costs. This was since it was estimated to require three years' worth of legislation to be accomplished in a single year by the county board of supervisors in order to use the Interstate Highway System funds that were set to expire in 1972. Congress approved the project, but in late 1968, the target date for completion of the system would be pushed back two years.
By 1971, the projected start of construction had slipped to within three to four years from then; however, Caltrans had approved the project. In July 1974, the California Coastal Commission unanimously decided to halt the entire project, since many of the necessary approvals from governmental bodies had not been obtained; this overrode an exemption granted by the San Diego Coast Regional Commission. Both the mayors of Chula Vista and National City were dismayed; Mayor Kile Morgan of National City stated that "we in the South Bay are getting tired of being kicked around", in reference to other stalled projects such as SR 157 and SR 125. Meanwhile, the interchange at I-805 was under construction, with completion scheduled for the next year. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife report predicted that the project would destroy 20 acres (8.1 ha) of marshland and harm three bird species that were endangered, among other negative environmental consequences; the conclusions were disputed by local officials.
In 1976, Caltrans said that SR 54 had not been included in plans for the next six years, due to a lack of funds and a shift in priorities from new roads to maintenance. The water subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives later recommended that the wildlife refuge be put on hold, since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) had not finished their proposal. Over the next few years, support for the project was expressed by a local citizens' group, the Chula Vista city council, and the San Diego Chamber of Commerce.
By 1980, the USACE was working to obtain funds, which was the major obstacle for completion; public concerns about the project were that it was not needed and would be too costly. The USACE announced in 1981 that an environmental impact report was necessary before the project could begin, after the Endangered Species Act of 1973; the least tern and light-footed clapper rail were considered endangered, and construction would have affected their habitat. The next year, the environmental impact report process began, financed by the USACE.
Work on the part west of I-805 and the I-5 interchange started in May 1984, with the construction of a detour for I-5; USACE paid for some of the costs, and federal funds related to the Interstate Highway System were also used. That same year, the county agreed to create a wildlife preserve on 188 acres (76 ha) of marshland to resolve the environmental concerns. Meanwhile, the existing part of the South Bay Freeway had become the "most dangerous five-mile stretch of highway in the county", as declared by the local fire chief, due to the 282 traffic accidents that had occurred on the road from 1977 to January 1985. By early 1986, the extension of the SR 54 freeway to El Cajon was declared a "lower priority" by Caltrans.
That year, the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit that halted progress on the project the next year, due to concerns about damage to the least tern and light-footed clapper rail bird populations caused by the construction of a nearby hotel and the roads to it would have. Chief U.S. District Judge Gordon Thompson stopped the work because the preserve had not been created. It was estimated that the shutdown resulted in the state losing $25,000 (about $48,000 in 2018 dollars) a day, as well as over 185 layoffs.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service received 300 acres (120 ha) of land in the Sweetwater Marsh from the Santa Fe Land Company to mitigate environmental damage, and the lawsuit reached a settlement. Construction resumed in early November 1989. The halt meant that the project had to be rebid; one bridge was partially completed, and was thus known as "the bridge to nowhere". The eastbound roadway opened to traffic on December 10, 1990, at an approximate cost of $89.3 million (about $146 million in 2018 dollars). In 1992, during the construction process, mastodon bones and stone hammers were found. The items were dated to be older than 120,000 years old and may be some of the earliest signs of human settlement in North America. Other animal bones were found at the site, near Reo Drive in National City, including those of a bison, a camel, a gopher, and horses. The westbound roadway was completed in July 1992.
The expressway portion east of I-805 to South Worthington Street was upgraded to a freeway in the late 1990s, and an HOV lane opened in each direction, east of I-805 only. The first part from I-805 to near Woodman Street was finished in November 1993. The second part was to begin the construction phase in 1994; this was complete by 1998. The state legislature allowed for the relinquishment of SR 54 from the El Cajon city limit to I-8 to the City of El Cajon in 1999, and the transfer took place that year.
The remaining expressway portion of SR 54 was replaced by a freeway in two phases in the late 1990s and the 2000s. The first phase corresponded with construction of SR 125 north of Jamacha Boulevard to SR 94; construction began in 1996 and was completed in 2003. The second phase consisted of the construction of the SR 125 toll road and opened on November 19, 2007. While California Transportation Ventures owned the franchise on the tolled portion of SR 125, the interchange with SR 54 was constructed with $160 million (about $191 million in 2018 dollars) of public finances. From 2005 to 2007, 1,500,000 cubic metres (53,000,000 cu ft) of rock were blasted through in 160 separate explosions to allow for the interchange to be built. The project to convert the HOV lanes to regular mixed traffic lanes was authorized in 2006. Caltrans determined that the lack of space for law enforcement to pull over carpool lane violators, as well as a missing barrier that separated the HOV lanes from regular traffic, made the lanes less effective.
As of October 2014, Caltrans had considered relinquishing the eastern part of SR 54 from the SR 94 junction up to the El Cajon city limits to the County of San Diego. Two years later, the CTC approved a Caltrans proposal to revoke the proposed freeway status of the unconstructed portion of SR 54 since Jamacha Boulevard and the other existing roads would be able to handle the projected traffic load; this would allow the unused land to be sold.
The entire route is in San Diego County.
|National City||0.000||0.000||1||I-5 (Montgomery Freeway)||Westbound exit and eastbound entrance; signed as exits 1A (south) and 1B (north); west end of SR 54; I-5 exit 9|
|1C||National City Boulevard, Broadway||Westbound exit and eastbound entrance|
|1D||Highland Avenue, 4th Avenue||Signed as exit 1 eastbound|
|Lincoln Acres||1.880||3.026||2||I-805 (Jacob Dekema Freeway)||I-805 north exit 8, south exit 9|
|National City–San Diego line||2.968||4.777||3||Plaza Bonita Center Way, Reo Drive|
|San Diego||4.207||6.771||4||Woodman Street|
|La Presa||6.028||9.701||6|| |
SR 125 south (South Bay Expressway) – Chula Vista
|SR 125 north exit 11A|
|9.898||15.929||SR 125 north||Eastbound exit and westbound entrance; SR 125 exit 12|
|Gap in SR 54; east end of freeway|
|Rancho San Diego||10.993||17.692||SR 94 (Campo Road) – Campo, San Diego|
|||11.846||19.064||Willow Glen Drive – Jamul, Harbison Canyon|
|El Cajon||14.212||22.872||East end of state maintenance at El Cajon city limit|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi|
- California Department of Transportation (2016). Postmile Services (Map). California Department of Transportation. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
- Google (July 18, 2014). "State Route 54" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved July 18, 2014.
- Thomas Brothers (2009). San Diego County Road Atlas (Map). 1:22,800. Chicago: Thomas Brothers. pp. 1252, 1271–1272, 1290–1291, 1309–1310.
- California Department of Transportation (October 2014). "SR 54 Transportation Concept Report" (PDF). California Department of Transportation. pp. 3, 5, 14. Retrieved November 29, 2014.
- "Article 2 of Chapter 2 of Division 1 of the California Streets and Highways Code". Sacramento: California Office of Legislative Counsel. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
- Federal Highway Administration (March 25, 2015). National Highway System: San Diego, CA (PDF) (Map). Scale not given. Washington, DC: Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
- Natzke, Stefan; Neathery, Mike & Adderly, Kevin (June 20, 2012). "What is the National Highway System?". National Highway System. Washington, DC: Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
- California Department of Transportation; California State Transportation Agency (January 2015). 2014 Named Freeways, Highways, Structures and Other Appurtenances in California. Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. p. 36. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 30, 2015. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
- California Department of Transportation (2014). "All Traffic Volumes on CSHS". Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
- "District Roads in Good Shape". The San Diego Union. February 23, 1908. p. 19. OCLC 13155544.
- "Oiling of Dirt Roads to be Finished Soon". The San Diego Union. March 31, 1935. p. 9. OCLC 13155544.
- McVicar, Jim (September 25, 1984). "Old Hwy 80". Evening Tribune. San Diego. p. L1. OCLC 37687666.
- Hamm, A.S. (January–February 1964). "South Bay Freeway". California Highways and Public Works. 43 (1): 18.
- California State Assembly. "An act to amend Sections 306, 320, 332, 351, 362, 365, 369, 374, 382, 388, 397, 407, 408, 409, 410, 415, 422, 435, 440, 446, 453, 456, 460, 467, 470, 476, 487, 492, 493, 494, 506, 521, 528, and 529..." 1959 Session of the Legislature. Statutes of California. State of California. Ch. 1062 p. 3121.
- "Road Project Outlined". The San Diego Union. April 12, 1960. p. A20. OCLC 13155544.
- California Division of Highways (1961). State Highway Map: California (Map). Scale not given. Sacramento: California Division of Highways. San Diego inset. OCLC 60337964. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
- "SD Firm Submits Low Bid on South Bay Freeway Job". The San Diego Union. November 3, 1962. p. A17. OCLC 13155544.
- Thomas, Ryland; Williamson, Samuel H. (2019). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved April 6, 2019. United States Gross Domestic Product deflator figures follow the Measuring Worth series.
- "New South Bay Expressway Opens". The San Diego Union. September 28, 1963. p. A18. OCLC 13155544.
- California State Assembly. "An act to add Section 253 and Article 3 (commencing with Section 300) to Chapter 2 of Division 1 of, and to repeal Section 253 and Article 3 (commencing with Section 300) of Chapter 2 of Division 1 of, the..." 1963 Session of the Legislature. Statutes of California. State of California. Ch. 385 p. 1182.
- Sevilla, Graciela (December 11, 1990). "State 54 Link Open in South Bay". The San Diego Union. p. B3. OCLC 13155544.
- "Flood Channel May Divide Freeway, Cities". The San Diego Union. May 17, 1963. p. A24. OCLC 13155544.
- Staff (May 26, 1963). "Shortest Freeway Route Backed". The San Diego Union. p. A39. OCLC 13155544.
- "Sweetwater Flood Channel Backed". The San Diego Union. April 3, 1966. p. A18. OCLC 13155544.
- "Revival Sought For Joint Flood Channel, Freeway". The San Diego Union. March 19, 1968. p. C3. OCLC 13155544.
- "County OKs $7,500 to Aid Joint Channel, Road Plan". The San Diego Union. April 23, 1968. p. B5. OCLC 13155544.
- "$4.9 Million Sought for Flood Plan". The San Diego Union. June 19, 1968. p. B3. OCLC 13155544.
- Newman, Maria (November 24, 1981). "Sweetwater Channel, State 54 Plans Hang On $50,000 For Impact Study". The San Diego Union. p. B3. OCLC 13155544.
- "Area's Freeways Losing Race With The Population". The San Diego Union. September 22, 1968. p. B4. OCLC 13155544.
- Staff (July 2, 1971). "State 54 Freeway Costs Estimated". The San Diego Union. p. B1. OCLC 13155544.
- Fuentes, Henry (February 4, 1980). "Plan Advances for Merging South Bay Freeway, Flood-Control Channel". The San Diego Union. p. B1. OCLC 13155544.
- Staff (June 6, 1974). "Coastline Panel Kills Flood Control Plan in Sweetwater Area". The San Diego Union. p. B3. OCLC 13155544.
- Scaglione, Cecil (June 7, 1974). "Flood Plan Ruling Fight Shapes Up". The San Diego Union. p. B3. OCLC 13155544.
- Staff (July 24, 1974). "Morgan Irate Over Projects". The San Diego Union. p. B3. OCLC 13155544.
- Staff (September 3, 1974). "Bonita Interchange Takes Shape". The San Diego Union. p. B3. OCLC 13155544.
- Scaglione, Cecil (August 3, 1975). "National City Argues Marsh Use". The San Diego Union. p. B3. OCLC 13155544.
- Scaglione, Cecil (July 31, 1976). "Bayfront Project Dealt Setback". The San Diego Union. p. B3. OCLC 13155544.
- Staff (October 25, 1976). "House Panel Rejects Bid for Preserve". The San Diego Union. p. B3. OCLC 13155544.
- Kozub, Linda (November 23, 1976). "Sweetwater Plan OKd by Citizen Panel". The San Diego Union. p. B3. OCLC 13155544.
- Staff (January 14, 1977). "Freeway Completion Asked". The San Diego Union. p. B3. OCLC 13155544.
- "Plan to Ease Area Traffic Supported". The San Diego Union. April 29, 1977. p. B1. OCLC 13155544.
- Polis, Dave (October 8, 1977). "Endangered Bird Imperils Bay Project". The San Diego Union. p. B2. OCLC 13155544.
- Rangel, Jesus (January 21, 1982). "Flood Control Impact Study Funds Granted". The San Diego Union. p. B3. OCLC 13155544.
- Van Nostrand, Paul (May 11, 1984). "I-5, State 54 Work Ready to Roll After Decades of Delay". Evening Tribune. San Diego. p. B5. OCLC 37687666.
- Burge, Mike (May 12, 1986). "Waterfront Plan Runs Afoul of 2 Fowls' Habitat". The San Diego Union. p. B3. OCLC 13155544.
- Briseno, Olga (May 8, 1985). "Dangerous Highway". The San Diego Union. p. B1. OCLC 13155544.
- Staff (January 30, 1986). "Route 54 Expansion Work Called a Lower Priority". The San Diego Union. p. B6. OCLC 13155544.
- Krueger, Anne (September 17, 1986). "Lawsuit Asks Legal Roadblock to South Bay Highway". Evening Tribune. San Diego. p. B3. OCLC 37687666.
- De Salvo, Steven (August 15, 1987). "Loss of Funds for Route 54?". Evening Tribune. San Diego. p. C1. OCLC 37687666.
- De Salvo, Steven (February 26, 1988). "Lawsuit Stalls Work on Freeway's 'Bridge to Nowhere'". Evening Tribune. San Diego. p. B15. OCLC 37687666.
- De Salvo, Steven (August 11, 1987). "Ruling Keeps Route 54 Project on Hold". Evening Tribune. San Diego. p. B1. OCLC 37687666.
- Spivak, Sharon (July 18, 1992). "It Took Years, But 5 Plus 54 Finally Adds Up". San Diego Union-Tribune. p. B1. OCLC 25257675.
- Stone, Frank (November 23, 1989). "Final Phase of Route 54 Under Way". Evening Tribune. San Diego. p. B3. OCLC 37687666.
- De Salvo, Steven (April 1, 1988). "South Bay Freeway May Remain Stalled". Evening Tribune. San Diego. p. B7. OCLC 37687666.
- Greshko, Michael (26 April 2017). "Humans in California 130,000 Years Ago? Get the Facts". National Geographic. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
Wagner, David (26 April 2017). "Mastodon Bones Found Near San Diego Freeway Rewrite History Of Humans In North America". KPBS News. San Diego. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
Sample, Ian (26 April 2017). "Could history of humans in North America be rewritten by broken bones?". The Guardian. United Kingdom. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
- Lepage, Andrew (26 November 1992). "Puzzle Pieces : Paleontology: Fossils from freeway construction site reveal what San Diego County was like during the Ice Age". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
- Rother, Caitlin (February 3, 1994). "Stretch of Route 54 to be Widened to 6 Lanes". San Diego Union-Tribune. p. B6. OCLC 25257675.
- Thomas Brothers (1998). San Diego County Road Atlas (Map). 1:28,800. Irvine, California: Thomas Brothers. p. 1252, 1271–1272, 1290–1291, 1309–1310.
- California State Assembly. "An act to amend Section 354 of, and to amend and repeal Section 444 of, the Streets and Highways Code, relating to highways, and declaring the urgency thereof, to take effect immediately". 1999–2000 Session of the Legislature. Statutes of California. State of California. Ch. 99.
- Barfield, Chet (August 1, 1996). "Building Begins on Route 125 Segment". San Diego Union-Tribune. p. B7. OCLC 25257675.
- Krueger, Anne (May 7, 2003). "Route 125 Connection". San Diego Union-Tribune. p. B1. OCLC 25257675.
- Schmidt, Steve (November 20, 2007). "Drivers Say Tollway is on Road to Success". San Diego Union-Tribune. p. B1. OCLC 25257675.
- Graham, David (March 5, 2007). "Route 54 Bridge Blasting Complete". San Diego Union-Tribune. p. B3. OCLC 25257675.
- Ristine, Jeff (October 26, 2006). "Route 54's Car Pool Lanes to Convert". San Diego Union-Tribune. p. B11. OCLC 25257675.
- Ortega, Norma (October 19, 2016). "Notice of Intent to Consider Rescinding Freeway Adoption 11-SD-54 PM 6.7/16.9 Resolution NIU 16-02" (PDF). Retrieved July 27, 2017.
"Minutes" (PDF). California Transportation Commission. November 14, 2016. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
- Warring, K.S. (June 10, 2008). "State Route 54 Freeway Interchanges" (PDF). California Numbered Exit Uniform System. Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. Retrieved March 5, 2009.