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California State Route 152

Circumstance had me out in the Monterey Peninsula again this week.  Generally I try to take a route like California State Route 198 or ever County Route J1 to get across the Diablo Range but time had me in a slight bind.  That being the case I took the popular way across the Diablos on California State Route 152 via Pacheco Pass.


CA 152 is a 105 mile east/west State Highway which begins at CA 129 in Watsonville.  CA 152 travels east over the Diablo Range via Pacheco Pass to San Joaquin Valley where it terminates at CA 99 near Chowchilla.


The route of CA 152 was added to the State Highway System as Legislative Route 32 during the 1915 Second State Highway Bond Act.   LRN 32 was originally defined as a highway located between Madera and Merced which traversed the Diablo Range westward towards the City of Gilroy.  By 1933 a new extension of LRN 32 was extended west from Gilroy via Hecker Pass to Watsonville.  The entirety of LRN 32 selected to be signed as CA 152 in 1934.


CA 152 is somewhat infamous highway given it is really the primary route for truckers to get from I-5 west in San Joaquin Valley to US 101 in Salinas Valley.  After zig-zagging some accidents on/off California State Route 99 near Madera in the rural outskirts of the County bearing the same name I began my westbound trek on 152.




CA 152 is called the William Whitehurst Highway, at least it is west from CA 99.  The entire route of CA 152 in San Joaquin is an expressway aside from a small portion in the city of Los Banos.


The first junction on CA 152 is with CA 233 which is a small 4 mile highway that travels northeast to CA 99.


Next westbound CA 152 encounters the junction with the southern terminus of CA 59.  CA 59 travels about 34 miles north to Snelling where it would have intersected an unbuilt section of CA 65.  CR J59 north of Snelling is the implied 26 mile continuation northward to CA 132.  West of the junction with CA 152 the highway enters Merced County.



The routing of CA 152 between CA 59 and CA 33 crosses the San Joaquin River.


East of the City of Los Banos CA 152 picks up CA 33 and multiplexes west past I-5.



Upon entering the City of Los Banos CA 152 drops to a normal divided through-street and intersects CA 165 near downtown.  The expressway configuration of CA 152 resumes west of the city and crosses the California Aqueduct.







CA 152/CA 33 continue west after the junction with I-5.  CA 33 splits northward off of 152 west of I-5.





As CA 152 approaches the San Luis Reservoir it crosses to the south of the O'Neill Forebay.  Interestingly there is Elk Crossing signs west over the entirety of Pacheco Pass.




There is a pretty decent overlook of the San Luis Reservoir and Dam from the Romero Visitor Center.  The San Luis Dam was constructed from 1963 to 1968 which required CA 152 to be located to the modern expressway configuration on the north side of the reservoir.







Originally CA 152 took what is now Dinosaur Point Road from Pacheco Pass through the San Luis Reservoir.   The original routing was replaced in 1966 by the current one in advance of the San Luis Dam being complete.  The incomplete reservoir can actually be seen on the 1966 Division of Highways State Map.


The climb westbound to Pacheco Pass includes a third climbing lane for trucks.  Despite the high grades the summit of Pacheco Pass is only 1,368 feet above sea level at Dinosaur Point Road.  The county line for Santa Clara County is at Pacheco Pass.










For contrast this is how the climb to Pacheco Pass on CA 152 west looks with a full San Luis Reservoir.



The drop to Salinas Valley westbound is only four lanes and is surprisingly narrow.   Casa de Fruita Parkway is the original alignment of CA 152.





Another contrast; this is how CA 152 west appears following a very wet winter near Casa de Fruita:


At the junction of CA 156 the expressway configuration of CA 152 ends and it drops to a rural two-lane road.  Most traffic towards Monterey takes the two-lane CA 156 expressway.



Approaching Gilroy CA 152 intersects Bloomfield Avenue/CR G7 and Ferguson Road/CR G9.  Interestingly the the turn at G9 is most of the truck traffic heading to US 101 along CA 152 tends to back up.  This section of CA 152 between CA 156 and US 101 is contentious due to it being way under capacity for the current traffic counts.



Entering Gilroy CA 152 approaches US 101 as a four-lane road on 10th Street.  The modern alignment of CA 152 multiplexes US 101 (apparently unsigned) about 1.5 miles north to Leavesley Road.  Originally CA 152 continued on 10th to Monterey Road which is the direction I took, the multiplex of US 101 seems unnecessary aside from the fact that it gets Caltrans out maintaining a road in downtown Gilroy.










CA 152 continues west out of Gilroy on 1st before it becomes the Hecker Pass Highway.  CA 152 passes CR G8 before ascending into the Santa Cruz Range and Hecker Pass.




Hecker Pass is at 1,309 feet above sea level and is the boundary for Santa Cruz County.  The abandoned Mount Madonna Inn has really nice overlooks of Santa Cruz and the ocean below.





The descent towards Watsonville is fast and curvy.  I actually find it surprising that Caltrans maintains a state highway in this part of the Santa Cruz Range given it really isn't practical.  In fact this section of CA 152 got wiped out by a mudslide this part winter during the heavy storms.






Westbound CA 152 becomes a one-way roadway on Lake Avenue in Watsonville from Lincoln Street to Main Street.  The original terminus of CA 152 was at CA 1 at Main Street and it would have been a two-way road on Lake.  Eastbound 152 uses Beach Street today from Main Street to Lincoln Street.



CA 152 continues out of Watsonville to the CA 1 freeway.  CA 1 used to run on Main Street and took a northward turn on Freedom Boulevard towards Santa Cruz originally.  Oddly the western terminus of CA 152 doesn't have an "end" placard and traffic can only continue north on CA 1.




Interestingly CA 152 from what is now US 101 east to CA 99 has generally always been a popular route of travel in American California.  Pacheco Pass was a toll road from 1857 to 1878 before it was turned into a public county route.  The entire route of CA 152 from US 101 to CA 99 was adopted in 1915 as Legislative Route 32.  The section of LRN 32 west of Gilroy to Watsonville was adopted by 1933.  The early history of CA 152 is best viewed on CAhighways.org..

The current eastern terminus of CA 152 at CA 99 was originally envisioned to extend 15 miles to the planned but unbuilt alignment of CA 65.  CAhighways cites the implied alignment being adopted in 1959 as an extension of LRN 32.  The planned eastern extension of CA 152/LRN 32 to the planned route of CA 65 appears on the 1960 State Highway Map.


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