CalTrans crews are hard at work “realigning” State Route 138 east (A.K.A. Highway 138, A.K.A. Rim of the World Highway) from 1.9 miles east of Interstate 15 (A.K.A. I-15) to just west of Post Office Road. Apparently, “realignment” is CalTrans-speak for scrapping the previous road and replacing it with something completely different.

Highway 138 realignment

The existing highway configuration has many nonstandard horizontal and vertical curves and grades as steep as 15%. The existing pavement is between 21 and 28 feet in width, no paved shoulders, and narrow or nonexistent earth shoulders. The existing highway configuration is one of the worst I personally know of in California, with the possible exception of that short stretch of 9 Mile Canyon Road in Inyokern that is one lane wide for two-way traffic.

This project will improve operational efficiency by taking out some of the curves and steep grades, widen existing lanes to 12 feet, and add eight-foot shoulders, at an estimated cost of $23 million. There will also be three wildlife crossings and an off-highway vehicle crossing. Even though there does not seem to be any consideration of a bicycle lane, virtually nothing could be worse than the existing highway configuration, and with any luck, the eight-foot shoulders will provide a modicum of safety for cyclists even though the roadway on either end will not be improved at this time.

Highway 138 East construction map

Construction began in the Summer of 2016, and the expected completion date is Summer 2018.

For more information, visit the CalTrans District 8 web page.