Caltrans projects in Inyo County

The Inyo Board of Supervisors got an update from CalTrans staff on future road projects at its Tuesday meeting starting with the four-lane expansion of U.S. Hwy. 395 at Olancha later this year and extending through 2026.

But, any conversation centered on the highway always leads to issues of high speeds and truck traffic and the board meeting was no exception.

Superintendent Jennifer Roeser, who requested the agenda item, asked about the possibility of stop lights in Big Pine and Independence, an item brought up by her constituents. According to CalTrans staff, certain warrants have to be met before a stop light is warranted. “We can look, but in the past, those warrants weren’t met,” was the response.

The solution is to make signage “more impactful,” more visible.

Another element that calms traffic are the bulb-outs included in the scheduled improvements.  The bulb-outs extend a minimum of five-feet into the bike lanes at intersections, basically giving pedestrians a jump start and greater visibility when trying to cross the highway.

As for the truck traffic, CalTrans’ Mark Heckman explained the increase is a perception issue. With Reno/Sparks area and logistics centers at the I-15 and the 60 Fwy., there was an assumption truck traffic would increase along the 395 corridor. But, following an Eastern Sierra Freight Study done a year ago, most freight increases are going from the coast due east, taking the I-80 to Reno, the 15 to Vegas and the 10 to Phoenix.

Truck traffic has increased on the 395, but only at roughly 1-percent a year. Current average daily trucks running through Bishop are at roughly 500 a day—locals haven’t imagined that.

The timeline on slated CalTrans projects:

  • Fish Springs pavement project, from Hwy. 168 in Big Pine to south of Tinnemaha, 2024 through 2025
  • Manzanar pavement project, through Independence, 2023-24
  • Lone Pine pavement project, with bulb-outs at Joseph’s, Lone Pine High School and at the Carl’s Jr., 2025-2026