John Vonderlin: The Modern Road: The Ocean Shore Highway, 233 Curves

Story by John Vonderlin

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Hi June,
This article appeared in the September, 1941 issue of “California Highways and Public Works.”


“A portion of the trail blazed by Gaspar de Portolo (sic) and his cavalcade of well over half a hundred men on his first land exploring expedition in 1769, has, after a period of 172 years, been transformed into a modern highway. A day’s journey of 10 to 15 miles made by Portolo, (sic) from one camp to the next, can now be made in as many minutes.


A new link in the Ocean Shore Highway, State Sign Route No. 1, extending 8.8 miles from Pescadero to San Gregorio in San Mateo county, constructed over new right of way, has replaced twelve miles of old, narrow road composed of a series of blind vertical and horizontal curves.
The old road had a maximum grade of 8.8 percent, 233 curves with a minimum radius of 50 feet and a total of 9,219 degrees of curvature. The new highway has a maximum grade of 7 percent, 19 curves with a minimum radius of 625 feet, and a total of 621 degrees of curvature.
This new unit in the progressive modernization of the Ocean Shore highway between San Francisco and Santa Cruz has a graded roadbed of 36 feet, surfaced with a two-lane plant mix pavement 22 feet wide and penetration oil shoulders laid on local select material and crusher run base.
It was necessary to construct two new bridges in connection with the highway project, one over Pescadero Creek, one over San Gregorio Creek. Both bridges are of continuos reinforced concrete girder design.
The Pescadero Creek bridge consists of six 43 foot spans and two 33 foot six inch spans on concrete bents on steel piles varying in length fron 25 to 50  feet.below the concrete bent footings.
The San Gregorio Creek bridge is made up of three 59 foot spans and two 44 foot spans on concrete bents also founded on steel piles varying in length from 25 to 40 feet below the concrete bent footings.
The completion of this section of highway opens to the public a new playground of sandy beaches for picknicking, bathing, and surf fishing.
The State Administration through the Division of Highways and County of San Mateo, working in conjunction have acquired title to miles of beautiful beaches, including the far-famed Sna Mateo County Pebble Beach, which have been made accessible for free public recreation.


The project was set up under two contracts, one for the highway work and one for the bridges; the highway work under District IV forces, and the bridges by the Bridges Department. N. M. Ball Sons of Berkeley were the contractors on the highway section and the Campbell Construction Company of Sacramento was the bridge contractor.
The project was financed by funds budgeted by the California Highway Commission, including Federal Aid, and by Joint Highway District No. 9, composed of the San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties.
Dedicatory ceremonies were held on August 17, at the Pescadero Creek Bridge. State, County and Joint Highway District officials took part in the ceremonies in which Deputy Director of Public Works Keaton represented Governor Olson and Director Frank W. Clark. A short program of speech making preceded a barbeque served in Pescadero under the auspices of the Pescadero Junior Chamber of Commerce.
Progress in the construction of the Ocean Shore Highway has progressed steadily under the co-operative efforts of the State and the Joint Highway District.
The highway has been constructed to modern standards between a connection with Junipero Sierra Boulevard at the south city limits of San Francisco to Moss Beach via Thornton, where it crosses Skyline Boulevard, Edgemar, and Rockaway Beach.
Improvement in Santa Cruz County has been accomplished through two contracts between one and one and a half miles miles south of Davenport and Waddell Creek.
The most spectacular project was the elimination of the notorious Pedro Mountain grade by the construction of the six-mile section between Farallone City and Rockaway Beach.