Monday, July 23, 2007

Technology Solves a Mystery - Identifying the West Lilac Road Bridge

My last "mototrips" post was linked on the blogs page of the Motorola Road Trips web site, although it probably wasn't what the creators envisioned.

Well, this post probably doesn't fit into the mold either, since it didn't use a cell phone - though it could have, I guess, if I had snapped a picture or written a mobile blog. (As you will see, there's still time to rectify this.)

I've driven from Ontario to San Diego many times in the last two decades, and there's always been one part of the trip that fascinated me. After you cross into San Diego County, but before you get to Escondido, there's a bridge, seemingly out in the middle of nowhere, that crosses high above Interstate 15. Floodgap has a picture of the bridge if you don't know what I'm talking about.

I've always been curious about the bridge. Is it a road, a bike/walking path, or something else? Where does it go? Where has it been?

As I neared the bridge yesterday, I figured I'd record its exact location so that I could answer these questions for myself. For the record, the bridge is

  • A little over two miles south of the junction between Interstate 15 and State Route 76.

  • A little less than a mile north of the junction between Interstate 15 and Old Highway 395.

With this information, I got into Google Maps and was able to identify the bridge. My search results are here.

As you can see, this bridge is for West Lilac Road, which is easily accessible via Old Highway 395 (which parallels the interstate).

The aforementioned Floodgap devotes a page to this portion of U.S. Highway 395 and the surrounding roads. Here's some of the text; go here to see the associated pictures.

One important question was why US 395 was gutted at all, if it wasn't originally planned to expire with the other US highways killed by the Great Renumbering. The answer, as in so many other things, is money. As we will see, and the 1963 inset map demonstrates, I-15 only went down as far south as San Bernardino. However, the 1968 Federal Aid Highway Act, one of the component funding acts for the Interstate system, provided $201.2 million for construction to connect I-15 from San Diego to Colton, and rather than build a new routing, I-15 was simply handed US 395's instead. By 1974, US 395 was no longer indicated on most maps and I-15 would assume its present routing from San Diego to Temecula, and thence to Devore via Corona when that stretch was completed over old CA 71....

Old Highway 395 in San Diego county...[was so designated] after the construction of Interstate 15 started in this region in the late 1970s through the early 1980s. At least part, if not all, of present-day Old Highway 395 carried a TEMPORARY I-15 shield during the completion of the Interstate; I personally remember these shields up until at least 1986, and riding on Old Hwy 395 on family trips with the I-15 designator. There were no US 395 shields by that time....

Modern Old Highway 395

Champagne Blvd continues north to directly transform into Old Highway 395 (a bit of a misnomer as, of course, Champagne Blvd was also old US 395). This is the first actual signage indicating Old Hwy 395, just south of the Gopher Canyon Road exit. It hugs the modern I-15 very closely, which is just at the top of this incline (a callbox is visible)....

This is the first of two crossover points and the only exit actually signed Old Hwy 395 from I-15 (here NB). Here, Old Hwy 395 crosses from hugging the northbound lanes to paralleling the southbound lanes....

Going over the bridge that spans the freeway is a I-15 postmile, which might have been a leftover from when this was TEMP I-15....

Junction with W Lilac Rd back to Bonsall (and eventually CA 76), or cross I-15 with a dizzyingly high narrow concrete bridge instead.

I was traveling this route to go to Mira Mesa as early as 1984, and I can barely recall the non-freeway portion of the route. However, I do remember the stretch of temporary Interstate 15 just north of Corona, back when State Route 31 (Milliken/Hamner Avenue) served as the fake Interstate. So presumably the West Lilac Road bridge was built after I arrived in California, but I'm not certain about that.

If I get a chance, I'll try to revisit the area a little later (when I head northbound again), and maybe snap a photo or two or write a mobile blog or two.

mototrips westlilacroad

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Stacey said...

I find all this interesting since I live right next to the bridge. I've been fascinated by it myself. Unfortunately tonight I find my interest turning a bit morbid as there was yet another suicide from the bridge. This is not that uncommon unfortunately. Thanks for the info.

Anonymous said...

In searching for info on the original alignment of Old 395, I came upon your blog. We have lived in Fallbrook for 30 years, and can remember routinely driving to San Diego on Old 395 long before I15 was extended through San Diego County from Riverside County on to San Diego. In those days it could be long, slow trip. Regarding the bridge you write about, it is been recognized by many for its beauty and soaring appeal. It was constructed to allow Lilac Road to bridge the huge cut that was required for I15. Another point of interest regards the bridge of Old 395 across I15 just South of there that you mention. That bridge used a rare construction technique. They dug forms on the ground under Old 395, constructed the bridge on the original lay of the land and then excavated under it to allow I15 to go under.