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Paper Highways of the Mojave Desert and San Gabriel Mountains; CA 48 (ii), CA 122, CA 196, and CA 249

In this edition Paper Highways the planned California State Highways of the Mojave Desert and San Gabriel Mountains are explored.  This issue will cover the planned routes of; the second CA 48, CA 122, CA 196, and CA 249.



Part 1; the wholesale Legislative Route adoptions of 1959

CA 48, CA 122, CA 196, and CA 249 prior to the 1964 State Highway Renumbering all were adopted as planned Legislative Routes ("LRN") in 1959.  Part of the planned LRN 267 west of Lancaster was already part of the existing CA 138 on LRN 59.  CA 48 east of Lancaster was planned as LRN 267 which was to have an eastern terminus at LRN 266.  LRN 266 was planned to originate from CA 2/LRN 61 near La Canada Flintridge and cross north/northeast over the San Gabriel Mountains into the Mojave Desert near Palmdale.  LRN 266 was planned to continue northeast from Palmdale to former US 466/LRN 48 near Hawes.  LRN 266 became CA 249 and CA 122 during the 1964 State Highway Renumbering.  LRN 269 was planned to be routed from CA 2/LRN 61 north over the San Gabriel Mountains to US 6/LRN 23 south of Palmdale.  CAhighways.org has pages dedicated to the Legislative histories of; LRN 266, LRN 267, and LRN 269.

LRN 266, LRN 267, and LRN 269 can all be seen for the first time on the 1960 Division of Highways State Map.


During the 1964 State Highway Renumbering the following changes were made:

-  LRN 266 became CA 249 from CA 2 to planned CA 196.  LRN 266 from planned CA 196 to US 466/CA 58 became CA 122.
-  LRN 267 became CA 48 but stayed signed as CA 138 west of Lancaster on what had been LRN 59.
-  LRN 269 became planned CA 196 from CA 2 to CA 14. 

The new assigned numbers of the planned State Highways in the San Gabriel Mountains and Mojave Desert can be seen on the 1964 Division of Highways State Map.



Part 2; the fate of planned CA 48 (ii)

The planned CA 48 is the second designation of the number as a State Highway and third if you count US Route 48.  CA 48 west of Lancaster and Palmdale is closely tied to the failure to move CA 138 onto to a new alignment which would have been a close analog for modern Sign County Route N2.  The following was noted regarding the history of CA 138 regarding the planned realignment on the corridor of N2 on the Gribblenation blog regarding said route:

"According to CAhighways.org a new proposed alignment of LRN 59 was legislatively defined running along what is modern Signed County Route N2 from CA 138 at Quail Lake southeast to Palmdale.  Ironically this would have put another part of the Old Ridge Route back into the State Highway system but it ultimately never happened.  CA 138/LRN 59 from Quail Lake east to US 6/LRN 23 was given a new LRN 267 designation which can be seen on the 1960 Division of Highways State Map (seen above)".

"During the 1964 Highway Renumbering the proposed route of LRN 59 between Quail Lake and Palmdale was assigned LRN 138.  CA 138 to the north was assigned as part of CA 48".

"The path of CA 138 was eventually moved to a new freeway/expressway alignment which bypassed the Old Ridge Route alignment on Gorman Post Road.  This new alignment appears to have been complete by 1967."

"Eventually plans to route CA 138 along Signed County Route N2 were abandoned by 1996 according to CAhighway.org and the legislative definition of CA 48 was changed back to CA 138.  The most recent studies by Caltrans suggest that CA 138 will largely become a four-lane expressway between I-5 and CA 14."

The truncated planned CA 48 can be seen on the 2005 Caltrans State Map originating at CA 14/CA 138 with an easterly path terminating at planned CA 122.  Note; the projected path of CA 122 changed significantly and in turn shortened planned CA 48 east of CA 138/14.



Part 2A; a drive on planned CA 48/modern CA 138 west of CA 14

In May of 2019 I drove the entirety of CA 138.  That being the case I also drove what was planned route of CA 48 west of Lancaster through Antelope Valley.  At Avenue D CA 138 westbound splits off the Antelope Valley Freeway and away from CA 14.  Avenue D east of CA 138/CA 14 is the projected path of planned CA 48  Avenue D west of CA 138/CA 14 to I-5 near Gorman was legislatively CA 48 from 1964 through 1996.





I-5 is signed as 35 miles away on CA 138 west of CA 14.  CA 138 west progresses into Antelope Valley on a two-lane road configuration through a Safety Corridor.  At 170th Street West there is signed access to the California State Poppy Reserve.  At 245th Street West in Neenach CA 138 west meets it's original alignment.












CA 138 west of Neenach begins to ascend a curved grade approaching CR N2 at the Old Ridge Route.











CA 138 west of CR N2 is built directly over the path of Old US 99 on the Old Ridge Route to Gorman Post Road.  Approaching Gorman Post Road CA 138 west passes by Quail Lake and expands to a freeway.








CA 138 west ends as a freeway at I-5.







Part 3; the fate of planned CA 122

According to CAhighways.org the origin point of CA 122 was changed from the junction of planned CA 249/CA 196 as part of legislation in 1965.  The new origin point for CA 122 was changed to CA 14 in Palmdale near the present route of Pearblossom Highway.  The new planned western terminus of CA 122 can be seen on the 1966 Division of Highways State Map.


By 1981 the planned route of CA 122 east of Palmdale/Lancaster changed.  Originally CA 122 was planned to head directly northeast to CA 58.  The 1981 Caltrans Map shows CA 122 taking a northward jog to planned CA 48 and then eastern turn towards it's originally projected alignment.  This change in planned routing of CA 122 likely was done to service Edwards Air Force Base.


Amusingly the Google Maps incorrectly displays CA 122 on Pearblossom Highway between CA 14 and CA 138.


Google likely received bad map data which shows Pearblossom Highway between CA 14 and CA 138 as the "traversable route."  The irony is that Pearblossom Highway essentially serves as the existing bypass route of downtown Palmdale for CA 138 traffic.





Part 4; the fate of CA 196 and CA 249

As originally planned CA 196 essentially would have been an adoption of Angeles Forest Highway into the State Highway System.  Angeles Forest Highway became Sign County Route N3 in 1963 according to CAhighways.org.  CA 196 was cancelled as part of 1965 Legislation but the segment north of the original planned junction with CA 122 was added to the planned route of CA 249.  These changes to the planned routes of CA 196 and CA 249 can be seen on the 1966 Division of Highways State Map.


Interestingly before LRN 266 was even adopted the route that would become the planned CA 249 was proposed to cross the San Gabriel Mountains by way of a large tunnel.  This tunnel was to be tolled and came be known as the "Ells Tunnel" after engineering consultant Joe C. Ells.  The Ells Tunnel was projected to need 10 to 15 years to complete and would cost about $200 million dollars when proposed in 1953.  CAhighways.org's page on CA 249 has a photo of the planned Ells Tunnel.

Since 1966 there has not been any changes to the planned route of CA 249.  CA 249 still appears as recently as 2005 on the Caltrans State Highway Map from said year.


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