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Balboa Avenue (Old CA 274)

[San Diego 1934-1999] Click the thumbnail at left for a new window with a scrolling map of San Diego highways from 1934-1999.

[274 Map] Once the company of mighty highways, now just a city street -- the story of Old CA 274 in San Diego.

Unlike many of the highways here, CA 274 (as seen in detail on the schematic map at right; click for an enlargement) had a relatively short life. It was not defined legislatively until 1965, after the Great Renumbering, but didn't even have interchanges with the routes it would eventually unite until 1971. In its original days, there wasn't even the token turnoff exit from the new I-5 (US 101) freeway that exists now (its only direct junction was with Business 101/Business I-5 Mission Bay Drive, which still remains its only link from southbound I-5), I-805 didn't exist yet, future I-15 existed only in the form of the diminutive old CA 103 (not to be confused with modern-day CA 103) and it didn't even get that far east anyway because there was no bridge for Balboa Avenue to cross US 395 (future CA 163), leaving a small orphaned segment east of US 395 which also wasn't continuous with Tierrasanta Blvd.

In 1971, the route was formally commissioned. The present-day turn-off ramp from I-5 to EB CA 274 was added, as was an interchange with I-805, which had been built through that area by that time. Not until 1975-6 did CA 274 finally extend out to CA 163, and it was only in the early 1980s that it reached I-15 (which was still being constructed) and at last became continuous with Tierrasanta Blvd. Other than rehabilitating and improving the I-15 junction after a sinkhole swallowed it in 1998, this extended Balboa Ave alignment would remain its course until the route was decommissioned just a short time later in bureaucratic terms in 1999 (however, I state its "2001 alignment" in the map because it was not accepted by San Diego until that year, as part of the same vote that also accepted CA 209).

Although not a scenic or beautiful highway, it remains interesting because of the company it kept up until its untimely demise when the construction of faster bypasses, like CA 52 just north of Balboa Ave, would diminish its importance as a connecting arterial.

Photographed in December 2004, with additional photographs April 2005, August 2007 and December 2008. Virtually all of these shields have since been removed.

Western terminus at NB I-5. Note the new signage with the 274 shield removed.
However, on the offramp itself, old signage with button copy still showed CA 274 as signed for some time afterwards.
EB old CA 274 almost immediately has an interchange with Morena Blvd, old US 101.
Note that this was not US 101 during CA 274's days; that had long since moved to the new freeway which would shortly become I-5.
Morena Blvd even has ramps and an exit for it.
Unlike the new reflective signage on I-5, this obviously earlier replacement still shows CA 274 as signed. At least as of a few years ago, this was one of the few signs in the field still present.
First CA 274 shield EB at Moraga Avenue. There is no BEGIN or END shield at the I-5 junction.
Up the grade towards Clairemont Drive.
Note the Botts dots on the road; this indicates that this section was built to Caltrans expressway standard. They are not typically seen on city/county maintained streets and roads.
Balboa Avenue EB through the Tecolote Canyon.
Balboa and Genesee Ave intersection.
Junction Mt Abernathy, taken from the southwest corner of the intersection. If you look closely, the Mt Abernathy sign on the traffic light mast has an "EAST" sign but no CA 274 shield.
Present-day junction I-805.
CA 274 between I-805 and CA 163 (old US 395) through Kearny Mesa. This is at the intersection of Balboa Ave and Convoy St.
Junction CA 163 (old US 395).
Balboa Avenue through the commercial quarter east of CA 163. This was among the last portions of CA 274 to be added to the alignment.
Advance signage for the I-15 junction and terminus.
Eastern terminus at I-15. Tierrasanta Boulevard continues eastbound from this point. The flyover ramp in the background was part of the 1998 repair and upgrade.
END shield for 274, past the exit for NB I-15, now on Tierrasanta. This is, of course, gone.
We turn around at Santo Rd (at Serra High School) to catch three things of interest. First is the corresponding BEGIN shield ...
This shield is of course gone from the field, but I am pleased to say is now in my personal possession, acquired legally from a scrapper. It is easily distinguished by the slightly cockeyed mounting of the "2". I don't have the BEGIN banner, though.
... the painted marker on the overpass still showing CA 274 ...
... and finally one of the few postmiles extant (PM 5.941), even when CA 274's routing was in existence. This is just west of the I-15 interchange, at the western side of the bridge over Murphy Cyn Rd.
Unlike the western terminus at I-5, the eastern terminus at I-15 still remained in nearly totally signed condition (from the Interstate, at least) as late as 2013. Here we approach Balboa Ave from the north on SB I-15.
This is a simple T-intersection.
However, from the south on NB I-15, we get a full split ramp.
Split ramp for CA 274 west and Tierrasanta Blvd east. All these signs at I-15 have since been replaced. RIP, CA 274.

All images, photographs and multimedia, unless otherwise stated, are copyright © 2004-2024 Cameron Kaiser. All rights reserved. All writeups are copyright © 2004-2024 Cameron Kaiser. All rights reserved. Unauthorized copying or duplication without express consent of the copyright holder is strictly prohibited. Please contact the sitemaster to request permission if you wish to use items from this page.

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