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California State Route 60/Former US Route 60/70 through the Moreno Valley Badlands west to Riverside

This past month I drove California State Route 60 through the Moreno Valley Badlands westward towards the City of Riverside.  CA 60 through the Moreno Valley Badlands was once part of the corridors of US Route 60 and US Route 70.


The present route of CA 60 is a 70 mile (76 counting multiplex) slice of former US 60 between downtown Los Angeles east to I-10 near Beaumont.  The vast majority of CA 60 aside from a small section in the Moreno Valley Badlands is presently a freeway grade.



For me CA 60 holds some personal history as it was the route I used most frequently accessing work sites in the Inland Empire circa 2011-2013.  Despite what many others probably would say I always really enjoyed the Moreno Valley Badlands portion of CA 60.  Considering I frequently worked on US 60 through Arizona and New Mexico the route holds even more appeal.  I even have a CA 60 shield hanging up in my garage.




Part 1; History of Roadways in the Moreno Valley Badlands

CA 60 between Beaumont and Riverside was part of Legislative Route 19.  LRN 19 was originally defined during the 1909 First State Highway Bond as a route running from Riverside west to Claremont.  In 1931 LRN 19 was extended east to Beaumont through the Moreno Valley Badlands via Jack Rabbit Trail.  The new route of LRN 19 east from Riverside to Beaumont first appears on the 1932 Division of Highways State Map.


In 1932 US Route 60 was extended westward into California.  US 60 utilized LRN 19 from Beaumont to Riverside westward towards a terminus in downtown Los Angeles.   US 60 can be first seen appearing on the 1934 Division of Highways State Map from Beaumont west to Riverside.


1934 was also a significant year due to US 70 being extended westward into California.  Interestingly US 70 appears to have followed US 60 completely on it's initial alignment in California as it is seen multiplexing from Beaumont westward to Riverside on the 1935 Goshua Highway Map of California.


The alignment of US 60/70 from Beaumont west to Riverside is made clear on the 1935 Division of Highways Map of Riverside County.


The route of US 60/70 west from Beaumont to Riverside was as follows:

-  US 60/70 departed a multiplex of US 99 on 6th Street via Jack Rabbit Trail.
-  US 60/70 followed Jack Rabbit Trail westward through the Moreno Valley Badlands to Gillman Springs Road.
-  US 60/70 turned northwest on Gillman Springs Road to Alessandro Boulevard.
-  US 60/70 headed westward through Moreno (modern Moreno Valley) to US 395 (post-1934) which was on what is now known as Old 215.
-  US 60/70/395 headed northwest on an alignment largely under modern I-215/CA 60 to 8th Street (now University Avenue) in Riverside.

Jack Rabbit Trail is typically described as being very similar to the Ridge Route and San Juan Grade.  The Jack Rabbit Trail was very narrow and carries steep grades through the Moreno Valley Badlands which made it unsuitable for a cross-country US Route.  The construction of a new route for US 60/US 70/LRN 19 is described as being completed in three segments in a August 1937 Department of Public Works Guide.  Jack Rabbit Trail is described as being replaced by a new cut through the Moreno Valley Badlands during 1935.  A new route from Box Springs (near modern day Riverside) east to the Moreno Valley Badlands is described as being completed in 1936.  The third part of the new route was described as being completed east of the Moreno Valley Badlands to the Beaumont by July of 1937.  Although the new route from Riverside east to Beaumont would be considered conventional by today's standards the modern CA 60 alignment essentially uses the same right-of-way.











None of the Department of Public Works Guides make it clear where US 70 was located when the new route through the Moreno Valley Badlands was being constructed.  By 1938 US 70 was moved off the shared alignment of US 60/LRN 19 through the Moreno Valley Badlands onto a multiplex of US 99 west of Beaumont.  The new alignments of US 60 and US 70 can be seen on the 1938 Division of Highways State Map.



A November 1955 Department of Public Works guide cites that contract to widen US 60 through the Moreno Valley Badlands to four-lanes was awarded in February.


The March-April 1956 Department of Public Works Guide discusses the grand opening of the four-lane alignment of US 60 in the Moreno Valley Badlands in February 1956.  The guide goes further discussing the history of road crossings of the Moreno Valley Badlands which date back to a wagon route built in 1895-1896.  In 1913 the Riverside County Highway Commission began surveying new routes through the Moreno Valley Badlands which led to the construction of the Jack Rabbit Trail in 1915-1916.  The Jack Rabbit Trail was paved in 1923-1924 before being absorbed into LRN 19 in 1931.  The guide goes onto show the differences between the two-lane route of US 60 through Moreno Valley Badlands compared to the fresh four-lane widening.  Suffice to say for the time the route of US 60 through the Moreno Valley Badlands was a state of the art roadway.












During the 1964 State Highway Highway Renumbering LRN 19 was dropped from US 60 in the Moreno Valley Badlands.  US 60 west of the Moreno Badlands to US 395 appears as a limited access roadway for the first time on the 1964 Division of Highways State Map.  This segment of US 60 came be known as the Moreno Valley Freeway.


US 60 last appears on the 1967 Division of Highways Map in California.


US 60 is replaced by CA 60 on the 1969 Division of Highways Map.


Moreno Valley incorporated as a City in 1984 amid the explosive growth in population in the area.  Consequently CA 60 through the Moreno Valley Badlands became an infamously dangerous route as the designs opened in the 1950s became woefully outdated to handle modern traffic volumes.  CA 60 in the Moreno Valley Badlands gained national attention in 2004 when a five year old survived for ten days in a car which her mother crashed through a barrier gap.  In 2011 the HOT Lanes on the Moreno Valley Freeway were converted to part-time to aid traffic flow.   In June of 2019 construction of two new truck lanes on CA 60 between Gillman Springs Road and Jack Rabbit Trail began.


Part 2; Driving CA 60 from I-10 west through the Moreno Valley Badlands to the I-215/CA 91 split in Riverside

My approach to CA 60 was from I-10 west in Beaumont.  I-10 west Exit 73 accesses CA 60 westbound.



The junction signage at the split in I-10 west and CA 60 contains a covered US 60 shield.  The US 60 shield was simply covered with a CA 60 shield probably circa 1967.  The dark green guide sign was likely erected in the early in 1960s given the US Route 60 shield is solid white.  The dark green color of the guide sign is a giveaway of a enamel paint.


CA 60 westbound is initially an expressway grade with several at-grade junctions.  Traffic is advised vehicles longer than 30 feet are not recommended through the Moreno Valley Badlands.  Moreno Valley is signed as being 16 miles to the west on CA 60, Riverside 22 miles and Los Angeles 73 miles. 




CA 60 west traffic is advised that trucks and vehicles hauling trailers need to stay in the right lane for the next 7 miles. 


At Post Mile RIV 27.967 CA 60 west meets Jack Rabbit Trail at an at-grade intersection.  Jack Rabbit Trail is signed as being a closed road but apparently there no closure gates and really not much to stop a careful driver from reaching Gillman Springs Road.  West of Jack Rabbit Trail CA 60 becomes the Moreno Valley Freeway.



CA 60 enters the Moreno Valley Badlands where the current truck lane project is obvious due to the widening cuts.  Traffic presently on CA 60 westbound is reduced to 55 MPH and is forced into the left lane.  Considering my trip took place on a weekend the heavy CHP enforcement tends to suggest that construction has not been exactly a smooth process.  At Post Mile RIV 22.101 CA 60 westbound emerges from the Moreno Valley Badlands and meets the Gillman Springs Road Exit. 























CA 60 westbound traffic is advised the next 13 Exits are within Moreno Valley. 


At Post Mile RIV 21.369 CA 60 west meets the Theodore Street Exit. 


CA 60 west enters the City of Moreno Valley and accesses Redlands Boulevard at Exit 66. 




CA 60 west HOT lanes begin approaching Exit 65 for Auto Mall Parkway/Moreno Beach Drive.  Lake Perris is accessible from Exit 65. 






At Exit 64 CA 60 west accesses Nason Street. 




CA 60 west Exit 62 accesses Perris Boulevard.




CA 60 westbound Exit 61 accesses Heacock Street. 



March Air Reserve, Pigeon Pass Road and Fredrick Street access is signed via the Exit at CA 60 west Post Mile RIV 14.14.




CA 60 westbound Exit 59 accesses Day Street. 



CA 60 westbound enters the City of Riverside approaching I-215.  Westbound CA 60 traffic merges onto I-215 northbound whereas Exit 58 accesses I-215 southbound. 






CA 60 west/I-215 north Exit 30A accesses Fair Isle Drive. 



CA 60 west/I-215 north Exit 30B accesses Central Avenue and Watkins Drive.



 CA 60 west/I-215 north Exit 31 accesses Martin Luther King Boulevard. 




CA 60 west/I-215 north traffic is advised U.C. Riverside is accessible the next two Exits.



 
University Avenue (formerly 8th Street is accessible via CA 60 west/I-215 north Exit 32. 



Traffic is advised that the junction of CA 60/CA 91/I-215 is 2 miles away approaching Exit 33 for 3rd Street/Blaine Street.




CA 60 west splits from I-215 north approaching the interchange with CA 91 at Exit 34B.  CA 60 west of I-215 was closed for the weekend for the 60 Swarm (probably the most amusing name for a construction project since the Interstate 405 Carmaggedons) construction project. 







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