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Old US Route 101 in King City and the 1903 Southern Pacific Railroad Depot

This past month I visited King City of Monterey County and the 1903 Southern Pacific Railroad Depot located in San Lorenzo Park.  My visit to King City got me interested in plotting out the history of US Route 101 within the community.



The history of US Route 101 in King City

King City is a small City in Salinas Valley of southern Monterey County.  King City had been settled in 1884 after Charles King acquired 13,000 acres of land from what was Rancho San Lorenzo.  King City was originally known as Hog Town and was plotted as a large ranching community.  By 1886 King City had a stop on the Southern Pacific Railroad and Post Office Service began in 1887.  The Post Office adopted the name "King City" and the community began to grow approaching the start of the 20th Century.  King City became large enough that the Southern Pacific Railroad constructed a large depot in 1903 which was located near the intersection of 1st Street and Broadway Street.  The 1903 Southern Pacific Railroad Depot is now on display at San Lorenzo Park near the banks of the Salinas River.  The 1903 Southern Pacific Railroad Depot would have been one of the early landmarks on US 101 within in King City.








The era of State Highway Maintenance through King City would ultimately begin with the 1909 First State Highway Bond Act which was approved by voters in 1910.  One of the highways approved through the 1909 First State Highway Bond Act was a 481.8 mile highway originating at the City Limits of San Francisco which terminated in San Diego.  This highway would ultimately come to be known in time as Legislative Route Number 2.


Unlike the Spanish El Camino Real which was aligned west of the Salinas River to stay on path to Mission San Antonio de Padua and Mission Nuestra Senora de la Soledad the path of LRN 2 was aligned mostly through the center of Salinas Valley.  The planned alignment of LRN 2 was much more direct than the path to the Missions which made the crossing over the Salinas River at King City vital to State interests.  At some point in 1914 the existing wooden highway bridge over the Salinas River in King City was destroyed in a flood and was replaced in 1919.  Until the 1919 Salinas River Bridge was completed traffic headed south from Salinas to King City likely would had utilized Metz Road.  A photo of this wooden bridge over the Salinas River can be found on bridgehunter.


King City was one of the last parts of LRN 2 to be paved when the San Lorenzo Creek Bridge opened to traffic.  The San Lorenzo Creek Bridge on 1st Street is described in the October 1924 California Highways and Public Works Guide ("CHPW") as being the first two-girder design used in a State Highway Bridge.




Ultimately LRN 2 and the highway through King City became part of US Route 101 in late 1926.  On US 101/LRN 2 northbound the original alignment through King City was on; 1st Street, Broadway Street, and the 1914 Salinas River Bridge.  The original alignment of US 101/LRN 2 can be seen on the sketch below.


The 1919 Salinas River Bridge appears in form of a sketch titled; "Improvements to US 101 from San Francisco to Santa Barbara" in the November/December 1948 CHPW Guide.


The new 1956 Salinas River Bridge in King City is discussed in the January/February 1957 CHPW Guide titled "King City Bridge."  The 1956 Salinas River Bridge is described as being intended to carry the northbound lanes of US 101/LRN 2 and is cited to have opened on October 3rd, 1956.   The 1919 Salinas River Bridge is described as being a bottleneck point for large trucks that caused delays up to 30 minutes when oversized loads needed to cross.  The 1957 Salinas River Bridge project required part of the 1919 Salinas River Bridge be altered allow for one-way southbound traffic.  At the time the article was published the 1919 Salinas River Bridge had not been completely altered to allow for southbound US 101/LRN 2 traffic.   The 1957 Salinas River Bridge is described as originating at Canal Street and spanning 1.8 miles northbound across the Salinas River.  King City is described as being the origin point of an expressway to Salinas.  Even with the 1956 Salinas River completed US 101/LRN 2 stilled used Broadway Street and 1st Street in King City.





The status of the King City-Salinas Expressway is described in pictorial form in the March/April 1961 CHPW Guide.  As of 1961 an expressway alignment of US 101/LRN 2 through King City had not been yet adopted.


A new 19.7 mile freeway alignment of US 101/LRN 2 within Monterey County is discussed in the January/February 1962 CHPW Guide.  The article states that the new Monterey County freeway alignment was discussed at a public hearing in King City on Halloween of 1961.



The July/August 1962 CHPW Guide discusses the final freeway route adoption of US 101/LRN 2 within King City.  The California Transportation Commission selected a community favored freeway alignment near downtown King City during June 1962.



The November/December 1965 CHPW Guide states that the freeway bypass of US 101 within King City was earmarked for 1967-68 fiscal year.  The King City bypass project included a replacement span of the 1919 Salinas River Bridge to make the new alignment fully conform to freeway standards.


The last CHPW Guide to reference the US 101 King City bypass was in the November/December issue.  Said issue states that the King City bypass had been advanced to the 1966-67 Fiscal Year.



Of note; both County Route G13 and G15 were added to the Sign County Route System in 1965 according to CAhighways.org.  Upon the completion of the King City bypass route of US 101 the former surface route in downtown King City was added to County Route G13 and G15.  1st Street became an extension of County Route G15 whereas County Route G13 was extended over Broadway Street.

Today modern US 101 northbound Exit 281 approaching King City accesses it's former surface alignment on 1st Street.  1st Street is surprisingly well signed as County Route G15 and even carries a reassurance shield for County Route G13.  US 101 Business is signed from northbound US 101 but isn't well signed within King City on 1st Street and Broadway Street.




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