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Old Highway 395, Part 17: US 395/US 91 and US 66 in San Bernardino via Riverside Fwy and Barstow Fwy/Interstate 215 (1959-1969)

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Go to: Part 16 | Main Old 395 page | Part 18

[Lots of shields on the San Bernardino interchange, 1960, 45K.] UPDATE: On January 25, 2014, the completely rebuilt Interstate 215 officially reached completion between Interstate 10 and exit 48 (University Parkway). It now has a minimum of four lanes per direction plus a carpool lane and finally full access to the future Interstate 210. I am leaving this up as comparison until I get a chance to redo the entire route in HD.

Finally we come to the continuation (and in this Part, the end) of the 1959 US 91/US 395/CA 18 Riverside Freeway, which we left in Part 14, which north of the Riverside Interchange is solely traversed today by Interstate 215. (For the numbering history of Interstate 215, rewind back to the beginning in Part 12.)

As originally designated, the Riverside Freeway ended at the former junction with CA 30, which in those days was at Highland Avenue, and we'll look at that exit which still exists. North of that point, US 91/US 395 then and I-215 now continued/continues as the Barstow Freeway, which "co-names" with the Mojave Freeway after rejoining with Interstate 15 in Devore. More about that in Part 18.

[Riverside/San Bernardino 1947-1999] Click the thumbnail at right to open a new window with a scrolling map showing Riverside and San Bernardino in 1947, 1957, 1963, 1969, 1974, 1977, 1984 and 1999.

As with the Riverside Interchange to the south (Part 14), the Riverside Freeway has its own large interchange in San Bernardino, although the San Bernardino Interchange was actually built first in 1958-9. At that time Interstate 15 started in San Bernardino, not in San Diego (Part 12), and US 91, US 395 and briefly CA 18 continued south from there as shown in the 1960 overhead sign above (click for a 45K enlargement); I-15 started at Interstate 10/US 70/US 99 (on the San Bernardino Fwy alignment west to Los Angeles) carrying US 91, US 395 and CA 18 with it. (This confusing mass of co-signage was undoubtedly one of the contributors to the legislation behind the Great Renumbering!) The first San Bernardino Interchange was a simple two-level interchange and had left exits, which we'll look at in this section; the present four-level stack interchange was built in 1972, still as part of I-15 and still using US 395 shields for continuity despite its 1969 truncation, later changed over to Interstate 15E and then I-215. Some of the damage to signs done as part of the changeover is still visible.

At the US 66/Fifth Street exit, the freeway added US 66 and US 66, US 91 and US 395 continued co-routed up to US 395's deviation in Hesperia. After the 1964 Great Renumbering, US 91 was struck from signage and US 395 remained officially alone with I-15 although for some reason US 66 persisted on signage despite not legislatively existing either. We'll discuss what happened to CA 18 in a moment. There is an anomaly in some documents that seems to indicate that the San Bernardino Freeway designation continued up to the Barstow Fwy name change along with the Riverside Fwy designation, but virtually no one refers to that portion of I-215 by that name today nor in my humble opinion does it particularly make sense to do so, so I will not use that convention here. Upon reaching Devore, original I-15 continued with US 395 (and US 66, US 91) into the Cajon Pass until 1969, intersecting with old route CA 31 coming north on the so-called Devore Cut-Off alignment. In 1969, I-15 was swung onto the west bypass alignment, obliterating CA 31, and decommissioning US 395 in favour of I-15E, the ancestor of I-215. Remember, however, that I-15E was internally Route 194 on the Caltrans books (Part 12) and at least one example of this secret internal numbering still survives in the field.

Modern I-215 through San Bernardino is a frankly substandard freeway with southbound left exits, badly maintained asphalt and poor carrying capacity with infrequent shoulders, basically the original US 91/US 395 freeway with only token upgrades. We'll see that in spades in this section. Part of the reason for this strange design was, as we alluded to in Part 15, the railroad: the cost of building all the freeway interchanges to completely clear the railroad tracks parallel to the freeway was just too high at that time, so all movements simply shunted traffic east instead and avoided the railroad completely, using a smaller number of separate bridges that did cross the tracks to access the west side.

This had a significant negative impact on businesses and properties on the west side of the freeway that suffered from the considerably reduced access the obviously compromised design offered, and for decades the west side of San Bernardino complained publicly about the economic effects of being effectively cut off from the highway. Only recently did funding and design approval come through to improve this situation, and SANBAG (the San Bernardino Associated Governments) in association with Caltrans District 8, the Federal Highway Administration and the City of San Bernardino now have several plans on the books for much-overdue improvements to this vital transportation corridor. Starting in Colton-Grand Terrace, the Mt Vernon/Washington and Barton Rd interchanges will be preliminarily reconstructed pending widening from the Riverside Interchange to the Orange Show Road exit, just north of the San Bernardino I-10 interchange, at a cost of approximately $1.4 million with work to start in approximately 2016 in cooperation with the County of Riverside, the Riverside County Transportation Commission, and the Cities of Riverside, Grand Terrace, Colton and San Bernardino. To the north, through San Bernardino proper, SANBAG is already at work on adding a mixed-flow lane and carpool lane to both NB and SB carriageways between I-10 and Interstate CA 210, along with completing the I-215/I-210 interchange with proper flyovers for all movements (this was an aggravating deficiency with the current design; I'll discuss that when we get to CA 30 and CA 210). The first phase (2007-9) will reconstruct the 5th Street/CA 66 (old US 66) bridge, widening it for the extra I-215 lanes and replacing the left movements with a standard interchange for the first time, with a price tag of approximately $25 million; the second phase (2008-10) will widen the freeway from Orange Show Rd to near Rialto Avenue to five lanes per direction, including a new Mill Street intersection, a new Inland Center Drive bridge (already in progress), and widened Warm Creek and Lytle Creek bridges; the third phase (2009-13) will continue the widening up to the CA 259 "CA 30" interchange with new bridges at 2nd, 3rd, 9th and Base Line Sts, a new CA 259 interchange and sound wall/street improvements; and the fourth and final phase (2009-13) will finish the widening through future I-210 and finally complete the I-210 interchange. It's a lot of work, but this freeway needs it.

Finally, I-15's junction with I-215 in Devore is also slated for future improvements through this very high traffic junction (over 160,000 vehicles daily travel north on I-15 past the split, but 140,000 of those are on I-15 south of it). This plan aims to make I-15 the primary lanes for the merge instead of I-215 (a holdover from the US 91/US 395 days) to eliminate weaving and lane shifting, and would ensure a full four lanes per direction all the way from CA 60 to the southern end of modern US 395 in Hesperia, with a possible truck bypass lane to cut down on truck lane shifting through the new interchange. The project is still being designed and considered with an estimated price tag of $200 million. If approved, construction would likely occur around 2013.

Interstate 215, Cont'd (Riverside Freeway)

Back all the way to La Cadena Drive, which connects to our old pre-1959 alignment in Part 15. We will be crossing some parallel exits, so you might consider opening that Part in a separate window and following along on both.

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Barton Road exit. This is technically within the City of Grand Terrace but I-215 does not linger very long in it before going back into Colton proper.

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1959 date stamp on the Newport St bridge overlooking the San Bernardino valley.

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Washington Street/Mount Vernon Avenue exit in Colton.

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This section of Mount Vernon Avenue was not part of US 395, nor apparently did it exist until the early 1940s. The construction of the Riverside Fwy split this segment apart and it crosses the freeway with Washington St to continue south of the freeway into Grand Terrace.

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Approaching Interstate 10 and the San Bernardino Interchange. This modified Jersey kerb was constructed in 2007 and replaced the grotty old guard rail that used to split the carriageways.

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Junction Interstate 10 and separation for I-10 east. This is the end of the San Bernardino Fwy (but see the blurb for one anomalous usage of the name). The obviously new signs went up in 2002, but only on this particular gantry.

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At the I-10 west separation exit is postmile 4.0. Remember this number because we will refer to it in Part 18 and Part 1 of the main exhibit.

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Approaching the interchange, this time from WB I-10. Notice the twin movements for I-215 coming off as a single ramp to separate into flyovers for the main interchange stack. That was not the configuration of the original 1959 interchange, which I found pictures of in a very strange place: the old Mission: Impossible television series, specifically the 1968 second season episode "The Town," where two clandestine assassins travel from their disguised small-town base into Los Angeles to try to kill a defector (more about that in the US 395 In Popular Culture section).

[I-10 left/right exits from original San Bernardino interchange, 1968, 54K.] On their trek into Los Angeles the assassins travel along a road that can only be US 66 based on its control cities, through the Cajon Pass (a shot of this is in Part 18), down to Victorville and into San Bernardino along US 395, and exiting on I-10 towards Los Angeles. That exit is shown in the episode, with a screen grab at right (click the thumbnail for a 54K enlargment, along with a view of the present-day interchange from the same perspective). Notice how I-10 east to Redlands exits on a left exit, with US 395 continuing straight on and I-10 west on a standard ramp with distinctively large letters for the control city on the overhead sign.

One other thing to notice is the odd spacing of the shields. The I-10 East Redlands overhead clearly has gaps where the US 70 and US 99 shields used to go, and the off-center SOUTH above the US 395 shield probably indicates the spacing was different before when it had a US 91.

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[Enlargment/threshold gated image showing old shields, 49K.] Proceeding along the ramp (this picture was actually taken from the onramp from Waterman Avenue that joins it), we can see visible marks on the last set of signs and on this one. Besides the painfully obvious greenout covering over a lane arrow, there are other subtle findings on these signs that I have run through contrast enhancement/threshold gating to bring out (click the thumbnail at right for a 49K enlargement). At the far left is a gap with three rivet holes, which the threshold inset shows to have a rounded edge; this was obviously a 2-digit Interstate shield and could only have been I-15. This is particularly easy to see without enhancement on the next overhead in sequence. Beside it is an I-215 shield, but under that is the edge of a 3-digit US highway shield and even the right "horn" is barely visible, sticking out from the right just under the red INTERSTATE. This could only have been US 395.

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We get our lane back here. The I-15 shield gap is really obvious on this one even without tweaking the image. You can also see suspicious damage patterns on the southbound signs where their US 395 shields were, and the other giveaway is the "switching" word order -- it's I-215 SOUTH but NORTH I-215, but back then it was US 395 SOUTH and I-15 NORTH US 395, keeping the direction after the primary route on each exit movement.

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The streetlamps still remember this as the "10-15 IC [interchange]."

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San Bernardino city limits, now back on I-215. These photographs reflect the original freeway, in as close to a form as original as I could get it. I will not be rephotographing the freeway on purpose until the new upgrades are finished, although I might get some in-progress shots for future versions of this exhibit.

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[US 395 southbound, 1968, north of the San Bernardino interchange, 75K.] Inland Center Drive exit, just past the Orange Show Road exit. If we looked down the southbound side in 1968, also shown in "The Town," we would see this exit for Orange Show Rd and pullthru signage for EAST I-10 to Redlands and SOUTH US 395 to Riverside. The large control city font for Los Angeles appears again here on the advance overhead for west I-10. The present-day exit is shown in the inset. Notice that by this time neither CA 18 nor US 91 were signed anymore.

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Into downtown San Bernardino.

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The old Fifth St bridge with CA 66. We're going to look at this from the southbound side in a second to show how the left exit configuration worked.

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NB I-215/old US 91/old US 395.

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Let's flip around and rewind on the southbound side to look at the left exits. First is Base Line St.

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[I-15 freeway in San Bernardino with US 66?/US 395, late 1960s, 83K.] Left separation to Base Line. Compare this with the late 1960s postcard at right from the northbound side (click for a 83K enlargement); notice the large ramp crossing the northbound lanes, which is traffic coming back as a left merge from H Street/Orange St, and Base Line St itself is the larger bridge behind that, with the Base Line offramp further back still and just barely visible. You can also see an Interstate shield with two US shields under it; this was probably US 66 and US 395 by that date, and there is also some distant signage in the background we will talk about momentarily, so you may wish to keep that window open for a moment.

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The next major left from I-215 is 5th St. On this advance overhead sign, a CA 66 shield on top of greenout covers up an old US 66 shield. Notice another left exit to Base Line, this time from traffic coming in from CA 259, which is also joining via a left merge.

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Finally, the left exit to CA 66, but this isn't 5th St; 5th is the bridge in the background. Instead, this exit dumps onto 6th St, and to get to 5th even traffic bound for CA 66 needs to exit and make two right turns to cross the freeway. No wonder the west side was angry.

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Back on northbound I-215 approaching the old CA 30 junction. These newer signs replaced the older set and IMHO were considerably poorly designed.

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[Map of San Bernardino in 1969.] Let's look again at the postcard above (reopen the window if you don't have it open already). Compare this signage with the enlargement of the signage in the postcard background: we can't see the shields, exactly, but we know what they probably are. This was originally the CA 18 exit as shown on the 1969 map inset before the CA 30 freeway was constructed, and after CA 30 was built it became CA 259 (but only recently was this signed), existing only to give CA 18 traffic a freeway connection to Waterman Avenue and the continuation north. See the CA 30 exhibit for more about that.

We also know that US 91 was no longer signed by 1969, but US 66 anomalously still was. Armed with this information, we can now make some fairly good guesses about those signs in the distance. There are a pair of shields on the left side, one with a faint blue hue and the other somewhat wider and apparently all white, with a single direction over the two of them. Next to that is a single shield with a single direction over that, and then some indistinct words and another shield with a single direction over that, and the rightmost two(?) overheads appear to be simply named exits (possibly Base Line). Given what we know about how the route was signed, and comparing it with the overheads in the introductory blurb, the signage most likely goes I-15/US 395 NORTH, EAST US 66, and the exit to EAST CA 18.

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[Old Route 194 postmile along I-215.] At the CA 30 CA 210-CA 259 junction used to be one of the two Route 194 postmiles that survived the redesignation as I-215 (remember that Route 194 was the internal designation for I-15E). I enlarged it at right for your review. A few months after I took this picture in 2007 I was driving by and noticed that there was just a naked pole there, but there is still one more 194 as of this writing.

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CA 30 CA 259-to-CA 210 separation. There are now 210 shields up, but I don't care.

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Notice that CA 259 only handles eastbound traffic. Westbound traffic has to use Highland Avenue (well, actually, there is a better route that probably neither Caltrans nor the City of San Bernardino want you using: go up to University Parkway, loop around, and catch WB CA 210 going south on I-215). I-215 swerves west here as the SB CA 259 to SB I-215 connector snakes overhead.

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Exit to old CA 30 west. Notice the somewhat more angular state route shield, which is typical of older signage. A 210 shield has been greened out over the 30, but I don't care to reshoot this one either. I like old route 30. The reason Highland Avenue is worse than University Pkwy in my opinion is all the traffic lights and the nearby CHP station.

At this point, the Riverside Freeway now becomes the Barstow Freeway.

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Interstate 215 (Barstow Freeway)

At Highland Avenue, there used to be this sign with a suspicious white NORTH marker, like the ones Caltrans uses for US routes. Hmm. Just thinking here. This sign came down with the rest of the CA 30 signage after TEMPORARY CA 30 was decommissioned.

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Mt Vernon Avenue exit, on the mainline, after its deviation from Cajon Blvd.

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Crossing under future I-210.

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We shed a lane here at University Pkwy and continue as two-lane-per-direction up to Interstate 15.

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Kendall Drive, the end of CA 206 (see Part 16) and former CITY US 66 when the freeway was built.

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Beside the freeway is this Little League Baseball signage for nearby Al Houghton Stadium, home of the Little League Western Regionals (along, naturally, Little League Drive). Little League Baseball is the famous non-profit children's baseball league, organized in 1939 by Carl Stotz as a three-team league in Williamsport, PA, and now played internationally from Japan to Burkina Faso. As of 2007 there were more than 2.3 million players in over 100 nations.

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Under the Palm Avenue-Kendall Dr junction is this signage for Roadside Business along Kendall Dr, harking back to the continuation of CITY US 66.

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NB Interstate 215/old US 66/old US 91/old US 395.

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Devore Rd and I-15 south, last exits before merging with Interstate 15 north. We saw Devore Road in Part 16 also, as a detour.

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[Old CA 31 as the Devore Cut-Off, 1969, 31K.] End I-215 as "TO I-15 NORTH." Notice that it is I-15, on the overpass, that crosses I-215 to become the right lanes of the highway; I-215 is in fact the through route in this configuration and becomes the left lanes despite bearing much less traffic. That's because I-15 was routed over CA 31, which was the minor route, and I-215 carried the three major routes of US 66, US 91 and US 395. The route of the old CA 31 cutoff is shown in the inset map at right (click for a 31K enlargment), showing the course of the future Interstate 15 just before the designations were switched. As we mentioned in the blurb, this interchange will be significantly reconfigured in the future to make I-15 the primary and through alignment (drat, since I usually approach this interchange on I-215).

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Interstate 15 (Barstow Freeway/Mojave Freeway)

The junction from the southbound side. I-215 is signed for San Bernardino and Riverside, and I-15 is signed for Corona and Los Angeles.

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[San Diego under Riverside on I-215 signage in Cajon Pass.] However, I-215 was originally signed all the way to San Diego -- look at what is actually under the Riverside button copy. If you can't see it, compare the photograph with the contrast enhanced inset at right.

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Another demonstration of how I-15 is the "secondary" route is on I-15's approach. Instead of merging smoothly into I-215, I-15 simply splits off into ramps, another holdover of the old CA 31 cut-off configuration. The sign at right used to have a I-15 shield under it but that was replaced by the current sucky retroflective version.

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However, the original left overhead is still up, complete with a weathered I-15 shield and a very obvious looking space and shield outline next to it, photographed late afternoon for natural sun contrast. There is no enhancement necessary to see this one. If you can't see it, please make an appointment with me and I'll refer you to an ophthalmologist immediately.

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Incidentally, I promised you one more Route 194, and here it is on I-215 approaching the I-15 merge: a final postmile, and END 194 BEGIN 15. These postmiles are, last I checked as of this writing, still up.

Continue to Part 18

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