Without fanfare, Caltrans’ contractor finished the Highway 138 East widening project sometime in the last couple of weeks. I knew they were getting close, because about 80 percent of the new road had been open for quite some time.
Last Sunday, we drove down the hill for lunch and decided to take Summit Valley Road to Highway 138 to Interstate 15 just in case those returning from Vegas had already jammed I-15. Lo and behold, all of the new part of Highway 138 was open for business.
It’s a pleasure to not have to navigate the switchbacks anymore and will cut a few minutes off anyone’s trip to or from Silverwood Lake, but we encountered a situation that I fear is proof that Caltrans should have opted for two lanes in each direction, at a minimum.
Yes, Highway 138′s new lanes are wider and there are now paved shoulders available if you have car problems or a flat tire, but don’t expect to be able to go 55 mph on this new section all the time.
We got stuck behind a guy driving an RV — actually we were in a line of cars about 10 deep — who was going downhill at about 35 mph. You can’t pass on the new road, so you’re stuck at whatever speed the cars or trucks ahead of you are going.
You expected that on the old road, because you couldn’t go very fast on the switchbacks unless you wanted to chance flying off the side of the mountain. But on the new road it would be nice if there were another lane so you could pass the slowpokes.
Of course, this will prove more frustrating to drivers when there is more traffic using Highway 138, such as when the Tapestry Project houses start being built.
So overall, I’m happy with the wideness and straightness of the new road, but sure wish Caltrans would have gone for four lanes instead of two.
Source: Steve Hunt, Daily Press