Since the foregoing paragraph was first published (1915) the good work
has gone steadily on and despite the sharp check that the World War
administered to public enterprises, Los Angeles County has materially
added to and improved her already extensive mileage of modern roads.
A new boulevard connects the beach towns between Redondo and Venice; a
marvelous scenic road replaces the old-time trail in Topango Canyon and
the new Hollywood Mountain Road is one of the most notable achievements
of highway engineering in all California. Many new laterals have been
completed in the level section about Downey and Artesia and numerous
boulevards opened in the foothill region. Besides all this the
main highways have been improved and in some cases-as of Long Beach
Boulevard-entirely rebuilt. In the city itself there has been vast
improvement and extension of the streets and boulevards so that more
than ever this favored section deserves to be termed the paradise of
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San Diego County has set a like example in this good work, having expended a million and a half on her highways and authorized a bond issue of two and one-half millions more, none of which has been as yet expended. While the highways of this county do not equal the model excellence of those of Los Angeles County, the foundation of a splendid system has been laid. Here the engineering problem was a more serious one, for there is little but rugged hills within the boundaries of the county. Other counties are in various stages of highway building; still others have bond issues under consideration-and it is safe to say that when this book comes from the press there will not be a county in Southern California that has not begun permanent road improvement on its own account.
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I say "on its own account" because whatever it may do of its own motion, nearly every county in the state is assured of considerable mileage of the new state highway system, now partially completed, while the remainder is under construction or located and surveyed. The first bond issue of eighteen million dollars was authorized by the state several years ago, a second issue of fifteen millions was voted in 1916, and another of forty millions a year later, making in all seventy-three millions, of which, at this writing, thirty-nine millions is unexpended. Counties have issued about forty-two millions more. It is estimated that to complete the full highway program the state must raise one hundred millions additional by bond issues.
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The completed system contemplates two great trunk lines from San Diego to the Oregon border, one route roughly following the coast and the other well inland, while lateral branches are to connect all county seats not directly reached. Branches will also extend to the Imperial Valley and along the Eastern Sierras as far as Independence and in time across the Cajon Pass through the Mohave Desert to Needles on the Colorado River. California's wealth of materials (granite, sand, limestone, and asphaltum) and their accessibility should give the maximum mileage for money expended. This was estimated by a veteran Pittsburgh highway contractor whom I chanced to meet in the Yosemite, at fully twice as great as could be built in his locality for the same expenditure.
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California was a pioneer in improved roads and it is not strange that mistakes were made in some of the earlier work, chiefly in building roadways too narrow and too light to stand the constantly increasing heavy traffic. The Automobile Club of Southern California, in conjunction with the State Automobile Association, recently made an exhaustive investigation and report of existing highway conditions which should do much to prevent repetition of mistakes in roads still to be built. The State Highway Commission, while admitting that some of the earlier highways might better have been built heavier and wider, points out that this would have cut the mileage at least half; and also that at the time these roads were contracted for, the extent that heavy trucking would assume was not fully realized. Work on new roads was generally suspended during the war and is still delayed by high costs and the difficulty of selling bonds.
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At this writing (1921) the two trunk lines from San Diego to San Francisco are practically completed and the motorist between these points, whether on coast or inland route, may pursue the even tenor of his way over the smooth, dustless, asphalted surface at whatever speed he may consider prudent, though the limit of thirty-five miles now allowed in the open country under certain restrictions leaves little excuse for excessive speeding. It is not uncommon to make the trip over the inland route, about six hundred and fifty miles, in three days, while a day longer should be allowed for the coast run. In parts where the following narrative covers our tours made before much of the new road was finished, I shall not alter my descriptions and they will afford the reader an opportunity of comparing the present improved highways with conditions that existed only yesterday, as it were.