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Paper Highways of San Diego; unbuilt California State Route 157, 171, and 252

This edition of Paper Highways examines the history of the unbuilt freeways of the San Diego area; California State Route 157, 171, and 252.

Note; CA 157, CA 171, CA 252 and the rest of the San Diego Freeway system were discussed on a Roadwaywiz YouTube webinar on 4/18/2020.  I happened to be one of the three member speaking panel.  If you're more inclined to listen to a talk about the San Diego Freeway and see videos with real-time drives the Roadwaywiz webinar can be found below:



Part 1; the background of unbuilt San Diego area freeways

Before the 1964 State Highway Renumbering numerous new route adoptions across California were added by the State Legislature during 1959.  The majority of the 1959 Legislative Route adoptions were intended to be urban freeway corridors.  The corridors of CA 157, CA 171, and 252 were all added for the San Diego area in 1959 with the following legislative descriptions:

-  The future corridor of CA 157 was added to the State Highway System as Legislative Route 285.  The routing of LRN 285 was defined as a highway from LRN 241 (future I-805) to the vicinity of the Sweetwater Reservoir.
-  The future corridor of CA 171 was added to the State Highway System as Legislative Route 284.  The routing of LRN 284 was defined as a highway from LRN 2 (US 101) via Switzer Canyon to LRN 241.
-  The future corridor of CA 252 was added to the State Highway System as Legislative Route 283.  The routing of LRN 283 was defined as a highway from LRN 241 in the northern City Limits in National City to LRN 2 along with a second segment from LRN 2 to LRN 77.  The former section was the corridor of CA 252 while the latter became CA 103 (now CA 15 and I-15).

LRN 283, LRN 284, and LRN 285 can all be seen for the first time on the 1960 Division of Highways State Map City Insert.



Part 2; the route of CA 157

As seen above the routing of LRN 285 was loosely defined as being routed between modern I-805 and CA 54.  On the 1963 Division of Highways State Map Insert LRN 285 is shown to have what appears to be a surveyed alignment and is shown being extended to LRN 282 (future CA 125) near Sunnyside.


During the 1964 State Highway Renumbering LRN 285 became CA 157.  CA 157 is shown to have a planned revised planned east terminus at CA 54/CA 125.  This new planned alignment of CA 157 can be seen on the 1964 Division of Highways State Highway Map City Insert.


According to CAhighways.org the planned routing of CA 157 was relaxed in 1972.  CA 157 remained on the State Inventory until it's Legislative definition was deleted in 1994.  The last time CA 157 appears is on the 1990 Caltrans State City Insert.



Part 3; the route of CA 171

As noted above the loose route definition of LRN 284 would have aligned it from I-5 in downtown San Diego towards the junction of I-805 and CA 15/I-15.  Interestingly the initial map of LRN 284 in 1960 showed it going through much of southeast Balboa Park to reach Switzer Canyon (a move which was sure not please anyone).


During the 1964 State Highway Renumbering LRN 284 became CA 171 which can be seen on the Division of Highways Map from said year.


Switzer Canyon was the subject of numerous proposals by the San Diego City Council to be added to the City Park System beginning in the late 1970s.  This culminated in 1987 when the City of San Diego purchased Switzer Canyon which effectively blocked the planned route of CA 171.  Nonetheless CA 171 would linger on the books until it was Legislatively deleted in 1994 according to CAhighways.  The last time planned CA 171 appears on a State Map was the 1990 Caltrans edition.


Exit 15B on I-5 towards Perishing Drive/B Street is a left over stub of the freeway-to-freeway connector that was intended for CA 171.





Part 4; the route of CA 252

As noted above the first segment of LRN 283 between LRN 241 and LRN 2 was intended to be located near the northern City Limit of National City.  The initial rough alignment of LRN 283 between LRN 241 and LRN 2 can be seen on the 1960 Division of Highways Map.


LRN 283 between I-805 and I-5 was swapped to CA 252 during the 1964 State Highway Renumbering.  The new designation of CA 252 can be seen on the 1964 Division of Highways State Map.


The 1966 Division of Highways Map City Insert shows the planned route of CA 252 moving into the southern City Limits of San Diego. 


According to CAhighways I-805 Exit 11A is a stub connector for what would have been CA 252.  The ramp at Exit 11A connects to 43rd Street in San Diego and was built circa 1974-1975.


The planned corridor of CA 252 was rezoned by the City of San Diego in 1980.  The Northgate Market Plaza now stands in the immediate right-of-way which was intended for CA 252.  West of the Northgate Market Plaza the undeveloped right-of-way for what would have been CA 252 is easily seen on Google Maps connecting to I-5.


Just as CA 157 and CA 171 it took until 1994 for CA 252 to be Legislatively deleted.  CA 252 still appears on the 2005 Caltrans State Highway Map.


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