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State Route 39

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Routing Routing

  1. Rte 39 Seg 1(a) Route 1 near Huntington Beach to the southern city limit of Buena Park.

    The relinquished former portions of Route 39 within the city limits of Azusa, Buena Park, Covina, and West Covina are not state highways and are not eligible for adoption under Section 81. For the relinquished former portions of Route 39, the Cities of Azusa, Buena Park, Covina, and West Covina shall maintain within their respective jurisdictions signs directing motorists to the continuation of Route 39.

    Post 1964 Signage History Post 1964 Signage History

    As defined in 1963, Route 39 had a single segment: "Route 1 near Huntington Beach to Route 2 passing through or near Buena Park and via San Gabriel Canyon."

    In 1958, route location studies were begun for a Route 39 freeway between Pacific Coast Highway and the Foothill Freeway in the general vicinity of existing Beach Blvd. There were public hearings in 1964 on the portion between Route 1 and Route 22. Studies on the northern portion were "later". A 1965 Planning Map shows Route 39 as the "Huntington Beach Freeway" through Orange County. The route would have paralleled old Route 39, Azusa Ave., in the SGV, continuing south along Beach Blvd. to the coast.

    In 1978, Chapter 1043 divided the route into the current three segments: "(a) Route 1 near Huntington Beach to Route 72 in La Habra via Beach Boulevard. (b) Beach Boulevard to Harbor Boulevard in La Habra via Route 72. (c) Route 72 in La Habra to Route 2 via Harbor Boulevard to the vicinity of Fullerton Road, then to Azusa Avenue, Azusa Avenue to San Gabriel Canyon Road, San Gabriel Avenue southbound between Azusa Avenue and San Gabriel Canyon Road, and San Gabriel Canyon Road. "

    In 2011, Chapter 536 (AB 957, 10/7/2011) permitted the relinquishment of the portion within the city limits of Buena Park from the Anaheim/Buena Park city limits to the junction with Route 5 (post mile 12.9 to post mile 15.1), on terms and conditions that the commission finds to be within the best interests of the state, effective upon the recordation of a certified copy hereof with the Recorder of Orange County. This segment was approved for relinquishment by the CTC in March 2012, and the resolution was recorded on April 9, 2012.

    In 2013, SB 788 (Chapter 525, 10/9/13) split this into two segments and consolidated the relinquishment language:

    (a) From Route 1 near Huntington Beach to the southern city limit of Buena Park.

    (b) Route 5 in Buena Park to Route 72 in La Habra via Beach Boulevard.

    The CTC is permitted to relinquish to the City of Buena Park the portion of Route 39 within the city limits of Buena Park from the Anaheim/Buena Park city limits to the junction with Route 5 (post mile 12.9 to post mile 15.1), on terms and conditions that the commission finds to be within the best interests of the state, if the department and the city enter into an agreement providing for that relinquishment. The following conditions shall apply upon relinquishment: (1) The relinquishment shall become effective on the date following the county recorder's recordation of the relinquishment resolution containing the commission's approval of the terms and conditions of the relinquishment. (2) On and after the effective date of the relinquishment, the portion of Route 39 relinquished under this subdivision shall cease to be a state highway and shall be ineligible for future adoption under Section 81. (3) For the portion of Route 39 relinquished under this subdivision, the City of Buena Park shall maintain within its jurisdiction signs directing motorists to the continuation of Route 39.

    The relinquished former portions of Route 39 within the city limits of Azusa, Buena Park, Covina, and West Covina are not state highways and are not eligible for adoption under Section 81. For the relinquished former portions of Route 39, the Cities of Azusa, Buena Park, Covina, and West Covina shall maintain within their respective jurisdictions signs directing motorists to the continuation of Route 39.

    Pre 1964 Signage History Pre 1964 Signage History

    In 1934, Route 39 was signed along the route from Jct. Route 3 (US 101A, later Route 1) near Huntington Beach to Jct. Route 2 near Valyermo, via Covina. This segment had two LRNs:

    1. LRN 171 between Route 1 and US 101 (once US 101 was rerouted to its freeway route). This ran N along Huntington Beach Blvd, then N on Stanton. Between Lincoln Avenue and (freeway) US 101 (along Grand Avenue). This was defined in 1933.
    2. LRN 62 between (freeway) US 101 and present-day Route 72 (former surface US 101; Whittier Blvd.; LRN 2). This route ran along Grand Avenue, La Habra Road, and La Mirada Avenue. This was defined in 1933.

    This segment from pre-1964 Route 26 south to the Pacific Coast Highway went under several different names in 1961 (all of these are now part of an extended Beach Boulevard): Huntington Beach Boulevard, Stanton Avenue (through the town of Stanton near Ball Road), Grand Avenue through Buena Park, and then Beach Boulevard in Mirada Hills. Near Westminster, this may have run along Coast.

    Status Status

    Rte 39 Corridor StudyBeach Boulevard Corridor Study

    In May 2019, OCTA announced surveys and scoping meetings on how to improve Beach Blvd in Orange County. They noted: "This major north-south thoroughfare crosses all the county’s major freeways – Route 91, I-5, Route 22, I-405 – on its way from La Habra to Huntington Beach, passing through the cities of La Mirada, Fullerton, Buena Park, Garden Grove, Anaheim, Stanton, and Westminster. It’s packed with retailers and businesses and entertainment centers such as Knott’s Berry Farm. If you could improve Beach Boulevard, what would you do? Would you make it easier for pedestrians and cyclists to travel the road? Add more transit? Synchronize the lights for less stop, more go?" The webpage on the study notes: "The Beach Boulevard Corridor Study of the 21-mile-long stretch of Route 39 (Beach Boulevard) is assessing existing conditions, forecasting projections of future growth, and developing solutions ranging from enhanced pedestrian, bicycle, and transit facilities to improved signal synchronization. Once complete, OCTA and Caltrans will provide local agencies along Beach Boulevard with improvement alternatives that will guide and enhance local planning initiatives. The initiatives will support the future development and formation of a collaborative and seamless transportation corridor from the coast to Whittier Boulevard."
    (Source: OCTA Blog, 5/9/2019; CorridorStudy Webpage)

    In May 2020, OCTA released the results of the Beach Blvd Corridor Study. Those responding covered a lot of areas, but primary desires appeared to be (1) increased coordination of traffic signals; (2) more pedestrian bridges (presumably to improve pedestrian safety and reduce slowdowns due to pedestrian crossing stops); (3) more bike lanes on parallel streets; and high capacity transit along the corridor.
    (Source: OCTA Blog 5/7/2020; Study Phase 2 Infographic)

    Buena Park Relinquishment

    In March 2012, the CTC authorized relinquishment of right of way in the city of Buena Park on Route 39 from the south city limits to Route 5 (~ ORA 12.656 to ORA 15.109), under terms and conditions as stated in the relinquishment agreement dated February 27, 2012, determined to be in the best interest of the State. Authorized by Chapter 536, Statutes of 2011, which amended Section 339 of the Streets and Highways Code.

    The City of Buena Park has a number of plans for its portion of Route 39 after relinquishment to the city. These plans include landscaping and water fountains in the highway's median, and pedestrian walkways and bridges crisscrossing the roadway. It will also give businesses and the city more control of signage and rights-of-way.

    Naming Naming

    Viet Dzung Human Rights Memorial HighwayThe portion of Route 39 (Beach Boulevard) between Talbert Avenue and I-405 in the County of Orange (~ ORA 3.606 to ORA 5.861) is named the "Viet Dzung Human Rights Memorial Highway". It was named in memory of Viet Dzung. Prior to his death in December 2013, at the age of 55 years, Viet Dzung was a recognized musician, songwriter, emcee, community leader, and an ardent voice for freedom, human rights, and democracy, particularly in Vietnam. Viet Dzung was born in Saigon, Vietnam, in 1958, to a former member of parliament and a school teacher. After the end of the Vietnam War, he fled to Singapore before moving to the United States in 1976 and being reunited with his family. Drawing strength from his family’s refugee experience, Viet Dzung was a champion involved in and leading the Vietnamese American community to honor the Vietnamese culture and to celebrate, defend, and press for freedoms both here and in Vietnam. Viet Dzung was instrumental as an organizer and emcee for the annual Black April Commemoration at the Vietnam War Memorial in the City of Westminster to honor United States and South Vietnamese veterans and the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for freedom during the Vietnam War. Viet Dzung reached out to and involved thousands of Vietnamese Americans, including performers, singers, students, business owners, religious leaders, and nonprofit leaders, as a daily voice on Radio Bolsa every morning providing news and public service announcements to the largest Vietnamese American community in the United States. Viet Dzung, whose real name was Nguyen Ngoc Hung Dung, was respected in Little Saigon and worldwide for his dedication to the Vietnamese refugee community and his commitment to fighting for human rights, religious freedom, and democracy in Vietnam. Thousands of people have been inspired by Viet Dzung’s activism, music, and art throughout his meaningful life. Viet Dzung’s life serves as an example of how one person can have a positive impact on those in his or her community. Named by Senate Concurrent Resolution 85, Resolution Chapter 90, on July 9, 2014.
    (Image sources: Wikimedia, Freedom for Vietnam Blog)

    Officer Steven PhillipsThe portion of Route 39 (Beach Boulevard) between I-405 and Route 22 within the boundaries of the City of Westminster (~ ORA 5.861 to ORA 8.425) is named the "Westminster Police Officer Steven L. Phillips Memorial Highway" This segment was named in memory of Westminster Police Officer Steven L. Phillips, who died in an on-duty traffic accident on January 29, 2004, at the intersection of Trask Avenue and Jackson Street in the City of Westminster. Officer Phillips was the first officer in the Westminster Police Department's 46-year history to die in the line of duty. He was born on June 5, 1957, in Los Angeles, California. Officer Phillips graduated from Edgewood High School in the City of West Covina and joined the United States Air Force in 1976. He completed four years of service as a military police officer, and continued his service with the Air Force as a reserve military police officer assigned to the 30th Security Forces Squadron at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc, California. He was called back to active duty for a year after the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001, and served his time at Vandenberg AFB. In 1986, Officer Phillips entered the Rio Hondo Police Academy. The City of Westminster then hired Officer Phillips as a police officer. Officer Phillips served in the Westminster Police Department for 18 years and he was a motor officer since 1991. He was an experienced motor officer and he was responsible for training new motor officers. Named by Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) 70, Resolution Chapter 132, on 9/19/2005.
    (Image source: OC Register)


  2. Rte 39 Seg 2(b) Route 5 in Buena Park to Route 72 in La Habra via Beach Boulevard.

    Post 1964 Signage History Post 1964 Signage History

    See segment (a).

    Status Status

    In February 2010, the CTC approved relinquishement of right of way in the city of La Habra along Route 39 on Imperial Highway between Brass Lantern Drive and Route 39 (~ ORA 19.12), consisting of a collateral facility.

    Naming Naming

    Gerald (Blackie) Sawyer Memorial HighwayThe portion of Route 39 (Beach Blvd.) in the City of Buena Park* from Stage Road to Hillsborough Drive (~ ORA 16.123 to LA D18.319) to is named the Gerald “Blackie” Sawyer Memorial Highway. It was named after Detective Gerald “Blackie” Wayne Sawyer. Sawyer was born in1941. In 1958, Detective Sawyer graduated from Excelsior High School in the City of Norwalk, California, where he was a very active student and played football. In 1963 Detective Sawyer began attending the Los Angeles Police Academy, where he attained his ultimate desire by becoming a proud member of the Los Angeles Police Department where he served for 10 years. In 1971, Detective Sawyer relocated to the City of La Mirada. On Tuesday, November 6, 1973, Detective Gerald Sawyer was shot and killed while working in a joint undercover investigation with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. Detective Sawyer was shot by a cocaine trafficker during an attempted robbery of a $144,000 flashroll. The trafficker and an accomplice were arrested at the scene by other narcotics detectives and charged with first degree murder. In 1974, Detective Sawyer was awarded the Medal of Valor, the highest award given an officer, for his ultimate sacrifice. In the years following Detective Sawyer’s tragic death, countless police officers and detectives nationwide have been made safer because of the training film outlining his death. Named by Assembly Concurrent Resolution 16, Resolution Chapter 68, August 8, 2013.
    [*: Actually, it's not in the city of Buena Park]
    (Image Source: Blackie Sawyer Memorial Facebook Page)

    Officer Michael Anthony OsornioThe portion of Route 39 on Beach Boulevard in the City of La Habra from the south city limits to Whittier Boulevard (~ ORA 18.49 to ORA 20.674) is named the "La Habra Police Officer Michael Anthony Osornio Memorial Highway". It was named in memory of Officer Michael Anthony Osornio, who was born in 1968, in the City of Fayetteville, North Carolina, the youngest of four children, to Rafael and Guadalupe Osornio. In 1976, his family moved to the City of La Puente, California, and in 1979, moved to the City of Walnut where Officer Osornio attended Suzanne Middle School and Walnut High School, where he was a very active student and played football. Officer Osornio relocated to the City of Montclair, where he resided with his family. Officer Osornio attended law enforcement classes at Golden West College, where he received his Police Officer Standards and Training Certificate in November 1991. In September 1993, Officer Osornio obtained his ultimate desire by becoming a proud member of the La Habra Police Department, where he served for 13 months. On October 31, 1994, Officer Osornio was patrolling the southwest portion of the city during the graveyard shift and was stopped at a red traffic signal at westbound La Habra Boulevard at Beach Boulevard. He began to accelerate when the westbound traffic signal changed to green, when his patrol car was hit by a vehicle as Officer Osornio crossed through the intersection, and he died in the line of duty from injuries sustained in the collision. The driver of that vehicle was driving at approximately 60 miles per hour and was subsequently convicted of a felony for driving under the influence of alcohol. In 2000, the La Habra Police Department created the Michael Osornio Drunk Driving Apprehension Award in honor of Officer Osornio, and that award is given to the police officer who makes the most arrests for driving under the influence. Named by Senate Concurrent Resolution 78, Resolution Chapter 88, on August 24, 2012.
    (Image source: Behind the Badge)


  3. Rte 39 Seg 3(c) From Beach Boulevard to Harbor Boulevard in La Habra via Whittier Boulevard.

    Post 1964 Signage History Post 1964 Signage History

    This segment was created by the original division of the route into segments in 1978 as "Beach Boulevard to Harbor Boulevard in La Habra via Route 72.". In 1981, the reference to Route 72 was changed to "Whittier", as the Route 72 segment was formally transfered to Route 39. This segment exists to connect the original Route 39 to the S with a planned freeway (never built) Route 39 betewen La Habra and West Covina.

    Pre 1964 Signage History Pre 1964 Signage History

    This segment was not part of the original Route 39; it was part of Route 72. Route 72 originally continued E from Beach Blvd and went S on Harbor. See Route 72 and Route 5 for additional details. This was part of LRN 2.


  4. Rte 39 Seg 4(d) Whittier Boulevard in La Habra to Route 2 via Harbor Boulevard to the vicinity of Fullerton Road, then to Azusa Avenue, Azusa Avenue to San Gabriel Canyon Road, San Gabriel Avenue southbound between Azusa Avenue and San Gabriel Canyon Road, and San Gabriel Canyon Road, other than the portion of the segment described by this subdivision that is within the city limits of Azusa, Covina, and West Covina.

    The relinquished former portions of Route 39 within the city limits of Azusa, Buena Park, Covina, and West Covina are not state highways and are not eligible for adoption under Section 81. For the relinquished former portions of Route 39, the Cities of Azusa, Buena Park, Covina, and West Covina shall maintain within their respective jurisdictions signs directing motorists to the continuation of Route 39.

    Post 1964 Signage History Post 1964 Signage History

    This segment was created by the original division of the route into segments in 1978 as "Route 72 in La Habra to Route 2 via Harbor Boulevard to the vicinity of Fullerton Road, then to Azusa Avenue, Azusa Avenue to San Gabriel Canyon Road, San Gabriel Avenue southbound between Azusa Avenue and San Gabriel Canyon Road, and San Gabriel Canyon Road."

    In 2000, the portion within the City of Azusa S of Post Mile 17 was reliquished to the containing city [SHC 339(c)]. Additionally, the portion of Route 39 that is within the City of Covina was been relinquished to that city when appropriate terms have been accepted by that city. (SHC 339(d), added by Assembly Bill 2909, Enrolled August 28, 2000. In 2003, Assembly Bill 1717 (Chaptered 9/25/2003, Resolution Chapter 525) changed the legislative definition to exclude the relinquished portions in Azusa and Covina.

    In 2004, SB 1578 authorized the relinquishment of the portion in West Covina as well.

    In December 2011, the CTC authorized relinquishment of right of way in the city of Azusa on Route 39 from Arrow Highway to 330 feet north thereof, under terms and conditions as stated in the relinquishment agreement dated November 7, 2011, determined to be in the best interest of the State. Authorized by Chapter 264, Statutes of 1996, which amended Section 339 of the Streets and Highways Code.

    SB 1578, chaptered September 9, 2004, authorizes the California Transportation Commission to relinquish to the City of West Covina any portion of Route 39 that is located within the city limits of West Covina, pursuant to the terms of a cooperative agreement between the city and the department, upon a determination by the commission that the relinquishment is in the best interests of the state. Said relinquishment becomes effective immediately following the recordation by the county recorder of the relinquishment resolution containing the commission's approval of the terms and conditions of the relinquishment. At that point, the portion of Route 39 relinquished ceases to be a state highway, and cannot be considered for future readoption. Furthermore, the City of West Covina is required to maintain within its jurisdiction signs directing motorists to the continuation of Route 39. In September 2005, the CTC considered this relinquishement.

    In 2010, SB 1318 (9/29/10, Chapter 421) made the following change: "...within the city limits of Azusa, and Covina, and West Covina."

    In 2013, SB 788 (Chapter 525, 10/9/13) added back the language regarding West Covina.

    Pre 1964 Signage History Pre 1964 Signage History

    In 1934, Route 39 was signed along the route from Jct. Route 3 (US 101A, later Route 1) near Huntington Beach to Jct. Route 2 near Valyermo, via Covina. This route consisted of the following:

    1. A routing N along Hacienda Blvd and Glendora Avenue to West Covina and the intersection with I-10 (formerly cosigned US 60/US 70/US 99). The official routing was later realigned to the E, but never finalized. This is signed as Route 39, and was LRN 62, defined in 1933. It was signed as late as 1988.
    2. N along Azusa Ave to San Gabriel Avenue and a logical connection with Route 2. This was LRN 62. Due to landslide, Route 39 does not connect with Route 2 anymore; supposedly, they are doing construction to reopen the part between Crystal Lake and Route 2 (which now Caltrans admits will never happen). The portion between Azusa and Route 2 was defined in 1919; the remainder was defined in 1933.

    According to Sparker at AAroads:

    The non-state-highway gap in Route 39 was actually signed from about 1958 to the mid-70's -- with older porcelain-white button-copy 1955-type shields -- in fact signage indicating route continuity was at least as complete, if not more so, than other urban state highways in District 7. Los Angeles County maintained the signage, with at least the tacit complicity of the Division of Highways, who likely supplied the shields themselves. North to south, the route was signed from the I-10/Azusa Ave. interchange, using South Garvey Avenue (the south I-10 frontage road) west from Azusa immediately south of the interchange. It was signed west right along the frontage road to Hacienda Blvd., where it turned southwest. It continued on Hacienda Blvd. south through West Covina, La Puente, and Hacienda Heights before going over the top of the Puente Hills. The Hacienda Blvd./quasi-Route 39 alignment continued to Whittier Blvd., where it turned west to Beach Blvd. The full signage of this section lasted until the 1964 renumbering, when state highway shields were changed to white-on-green.

    After 1964, the county apparently lost interest in signage of this route; the black-on-white shields disappeared along the South Garvey frontage road, and were seen only sporadically along Hacienda. Curiously, when the Route 60/Pomona Freeway was completed through Hacienda Heights in late 1967, the Hacienda Blvd. exit signage showed that street as Route 39. When Route 72 was signed on Whittier Blvd and Harbor Blvd. in La Habra in 1968, the junction with Hacienda Blvd. clearly indicated that route as Route 39, complete with new green shields. However, Hacienda Blvd. itself remained sporadically signed, even immediately north and south of the Route 60 freeway. After 1964, there was no signage on southbound Route 39 to indicate that it continued south of I-10; northbound, the signage simply "petered out" north of Francisquito Avenue in West Covina. The expansion of the Westfield West Covina mall in the 1970's, which included a reconfiguration of Hacienda Blvd. that moved the main flow of traffic to Vincent Ave. west of the mall and the downgrading of Hacienda Ave. from Vincent north to South Garvey to more or less an access road to the east side of the mall essentially put a nail in the Route 39 signage "coffin". By 1982, a "TO" banner was placed on the Route 60 BGS reference to Route 39; a few years later, the shield was greened out completely.

    In the early 2000's there was one "straggler" green Route 39 shield on NB Hacienda north of Anza; it was gone by 2010. With the north end of Hacienda Blvd. essentially a mall access road, and South Garvey having been truncated when the I-10/Azusa Ave. interchange was reworked in the '80's, there is no current physical continuity along the original L.A. County-signed route. Hacienda Blvd. through the Puente Hills remains a twisting, curvy 2-lane road -- albeit well-delineated with Caltrans-type outer lane striping.

    Both the Harbor Blvd./Azusa Ave. corridor from east La Habra north to Covina -- the route described in the Route 39 legislative description -- and Colima Ave (Los Angeles County Sign Route N8) crossing the hills to the west are multilane boulevards, but they certainly don't look like Caltrans-spec facilities (short left-turn pockets, curbs rather than shoulders), rather typical arterials through the housing tracts that line the Puente Hills. It appears that, despite the state legislative description, none of the relevant jurisdictions have any interest in signing and maintaining any surface connection between northern Orange County and the east San Gabriel Valley.
    (Ref: Sparker @ AARoads, 9/15/2016)

    As for San Gabriel Canyon Road: In 1914, Azusa officials posted a sign at the entrance to San Gabriel Canyon calling on the state to build a road into the steep mountains, saying it would be “the most scenic mountain road in So. California.” Completed in 1961, San Gabriel Canyon Road, later designated Route 39, took drivers through towering gorges, dark canyons and above raging rivers, connecting with Angeles Crest Highway, later designated Route 2, at a remote spot 8,250 feet in elevation called Islip Saddle. The ride was not only scenic but for the first time connected San Gabriel Valley residents directly to Wrightwood and local ski areas. The route, however, was closed regularly due to landslides. One such rock slide during the winter of 1978 grabbed a large portion of the highway, sending pavement, culverts and drain pipes tumbling into the valley below, forcing cars to U-turn just north of Crystal Lake and cutting off easy access to ski resorts and notable natural areas, such as Mount Williamson, Jackson Lake and the Pacific Crest Trail. Caltrans considered the segment to be closed permanently in 1978, with Mother Nature declared the victor. However.... according to a planning report on a CalTrans site, this might actually be reopened:

    "LA-39-40.0/44.4 19920K Reopen Highway (PC/AG) This project is currently in PSR review stage with changes still being made by Project Studies. This Office submitted amendments to the PEAR on September 7, 2000 for Alternative 5 and the cost estimate for biological mitigation (including Alternative 5). According to the 2nd draft of the PSR the recommended environmental document likely is an EIR/EIS for Alternative 5 (the preferred alternative)."

    In October 2017, it was reported that a member of Congress and a Los Angeles County supervisor took directors from the Azusa Chamber of Commerce and representatives of Caltrans on a helicopter tour of the 4.4-mile gap with the goal of reopening the closed portion of Route 39 all the way to Route 2 for public access. After in October 2016 that Caltrans would fill in the gap, nothing has happened. The department is in the midst of a preliminary engineering study to assess what kind of environmental studies are needed and how much construction will cost, Lauren Wonder, Caltrans spokeswoman, said. The study will be completed in Spring 2018. It was noted that the road needs to be restored to two lanes each way so that people escaping a fire can go north or south to exit the forest. During past fires in the Angeles National Forest or its foothills, the only way out was south to Azsua, she said. Sometimes helicopters had to evacuate survivors. Recently, minimal repairs made to the closed roadway allows emergency vehicles, such as fire trucks, access to the southeastern Angeles from Route 2 and from Crystal Lake north to Route 2, connecting to Mount Wilson, La Cañada Flintridge and Pasadena via the I-210, or Inland Empire cities via I-15.
    (Source: SGV Tribune, 10/15/2017)

    The City of Industry has a document that describes the origins of FAS Rte 1274, which appears to be today's Route 39 and County Sign Route N8. This was to be a route from Huntington Beach and north across the San Gabriel Mountains to the Antelope Valley. The project involved the extension of Azusa Avenue through West Covina to link with Pass and Covina Road just S of Amar Road in La Puente. Part of this effort involved remaking Grazide Road into a four-lane divided highway from Hacienda Bl east for ½ mi.

    Status Status

    La Habra to the Angeles National Forest

    Unconstructed Between La Habra and Route 10 in Azusa, this was a planned freeway routing that was never built. It is unclear if Route 39 is signed between Whitter Blvd / Harbor Blvd and I-10; if it is, the signed Route 39 between those points is the pre-1964 routing. According to the Traversable Routing report, between the Orange County line (Whittier Blvd) and Route 10, the traversable local roads are Harbor Blvd, Fullerton Road, Colima Road, and Azuza Ave. Right of way engineering was recommending deletion of this portion from the state system.

    Currently, the routing is as follows: When entering the southern city-limits, it follows Beach Blvd. Afterwards, it shortly jogs east on Whittier Blvd. State maintenance ends at Harbor Blvd.. Note that, historically, Route 39 continued north of La Habra city-limits, via Hacienda Blvd.

    The SAFETEA-LU act, enacted in August 2005 as the reauthorization of TEA-21, provided the following expenditures on or near this route:

    • High Priority Project #1904: Reconstruct Azusa Ave and San Gabriel Ave for two-way traffic in Azusa. $2,000,000.

    In Decmeber 2011, the CTC approved $900K to construct three maintenance vehicle pullouts, one retaining wall, 20 freeway access gates, in Monrovia, Duarte, and Azusa, at various locations from Huntington Drive to Azusa Avenue (Route 39).

    Angeles National Forest to Crystal Lake

    In April 2016, an update on Route 39 was reported. An El Niño storm wiped out Route 39 north of East Fork Road (~ LA 25.718) on Jan. 6, 2016. The road to the alpine ecosystem was damaged and had to be closed. Likewise, the connection to Wrightwood on Route 2 — also knows as the Angeles Crest Highway — from I-210 in La Cañada Flintridge had been closed at Islip Saddle, a plateau that sits at the intersection of Route 2 and Route 39, where 7 miles of Route 39 has been closed from Route 2 going on 40 years. April saw Caltrans reporting the repair of the damaged portion of Route 39 and its reopening to the Crystal Lake Recreation Area from Azusa. At the same time, Caltrans re-opened Route 2 from Islip Saddle to 5 miles west of Big Pines.
    (Source: SGV Tribune, 4/29/2016)

    In September 2009, the CTC approved for future consideration of funding this project, which was described as a project in Los Angeles County that will rehabilitate, re-open, and construct roadway improvements on Route 39 within the Angeles National Forest north of the city of Duarte. It was noted that the project is fully funded. The project is programmed in the 2008 State Highway Operation and Protection Program for $47,592,000, capital and support. Construction is estimated to begin in Fiscal Year 2011-12.

    North Fork San Gabriel Bridge (LA R31.2)

    [Pier Repair] In February 2010, the CTC approved a project in Los Angeles County to rehabilitate an existing pier on the North Fork San Gabriel Bridge on Route 39 in the Angeles National Forest (LA R31.2). The project is fully funded in the 2008 State Highway Operation and Protection Program. The total estimated project cost is $3,874,000 for capital and support. Construction is estimated to begin in Fiscal Year 2011-12. A Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) has been completed.

    In June 2019, the CTC made the following construction allocation: $18,239,000 07-Los Angeles-39 R31.2 ProjID 0718000018. Route 39 Near Azusa, at the North Fork San Gabriel River Bridge No. 53-2245. Replace bridge with a new single-span structure on an alignment to the south, install guardrail, and construct a Maintenance Vehicle Pullout (MVP). Const. $13,763,000 Const Engr. $4,476,000 (Future consideration of funding approved under Resolution E-10-09; February 2010.)
    (Source: June 2019 CTC Minutes, Agenda Item 2.5b.(1) Item 23)

    Crystal Lake Road to Route 2

    The portion between Crystal Lake Road and Route 2 (~ LA 38.148 to LA 44.383) is currently closed. However, according to a report on 12/15/02 in the Whittier Daily News, it may be reopened in the future. According to the article, by January 2003, Caltrans officials expect to have a plan in place to repair Route 39 where it meets Angeles Crest Highway. This 6.2 mile stretch was closed after a major storm in 1978, and provides a recreational loop from Azusa to La Canada Flintridge, with an option to veer toward Wrightwood. However, it may take until 2007 to open the road. Without the route, residents must drive an extra 45 miles through the forest to get to Route 2 in La Canada Flintridge, or to Interstate 15 in Rancho Cucamonga to reach higher-elevation campgrounds, ski areas and restaurants in Wrightwood. There are two phases:
    (Thanks to Greg Saia for providing this information, including forwarding information he obtained from Caltrans.)

    • Phase I includes repaving work, drainage work, retaining-wall construction and partial reconstruction of the road. It covers the northern and southern sections (PM 40/41.6 and 43.00/44.44) with an estimated completion of summer 2004. Specific actions include cleaning 23 culvert inlets, building 4 new retaining walls and installing metal beam guardrails. The Initial Study/Environmental Assessment (IS/EA) for Phase I was released in January 2003 and found no significant impacts. The tentative work schedule for Phase I is as follows: finalize IS/EA early spring 2003 and begin construction Summer 2003 with an estimated completion of winter 2003.
    • Phase II requires re-engineering a part of the road where a landslide swept away a 500-foot portion about five miles north of Crystal Lake. It has an estimated completion date of at least summer 2008. Phase II currently has 5 alternatives. Alternatives for Phase II are currently under evaluation. The preferred alternative would include realigning the roadway at Snow Spring Slide and installing retaining walls and metal beam guardrails. The cost of this project is estimated at over $20,000,000, and there is no forseeable source of funding.
    [Route 39]According to the Caltrans EIR (PDF) dated January 2009, the project (which appears to be Phase II above) would rehabilitate and reopen a 4.4-mile segment of Route 39 from post miles 40.0 to 44.4, in the Angeles National Forest, in Los Angeles County. The restored connection would be accessible to public highway traffic throughout the year, with seasonal closures during times of inclement weather. These closures would likely occur during Winter and early spring. Phase I, mentioned above, rebuilt the roadway at Snow Spring, making it traversable throughout the length of the project area. Maintenance activities included the cleaning of drainage culverts and the erection of a dirt berm. With these past improvements, the roadway is passable, but only open to emergency service vehicles, and it is constricted as it approaches its northerly terminus at post mile 40.00.

    The proposed project would consist of the following actions; the reconstruction of culverts and construction of new retaining walls, installation of new metal-beam guard rails and widening of the shoulder at the Route 39/Route 2 intersection, maintenance of drainage inlets at each end of the closed segment and at Snow Spring, and repaving of the roadway within project limits. The design alternatives being considered are:

    • Alternative 1, or the “No-Build Alternative” proposes to maintain the existing conditions of the roadway without any improvements. This alternative is not recommended since it does not reopen the closed section of Route 39 or address persisting safety issues that the proposed project intends to resolve.
    • Alternative 2 proposes to rehabilitate roadway/roadside facilities, and install geosynthetic reinforcement at Snow Spring. Alternative 2 also proposes to reconstruct the washed out and damaged Route 39 roadway section for approximately 2,000 linear feet. At the location of the most significant damage, the Snow Spring Slide area (post miles 42.20 to 42.37), this alternative would install geosynthetic reinforcement to a depth of 29.5 feet below the roadway level. At post miles 40.96 to 40.97, a mechanically stabilized earth wall would be constructed to replace the existing, damaged crib wall.
    • Alternative 3 proposes to rehabilitate roadway/roadside facilities, and construct a concrete-boxgirder bridge at Snow Spring. Alternative 3 also proposes to reconstruct the washed out and damaged Route 39 roadway section for approximately 1,300 linear feet, plus provide a new bridge at Snow Spring Slide. At this location, where the most significant damage has occurred, a concrete box girder bridge would be constructed to allow slide debris and heavy runoff to pass underneath the roadway. At post miles 40.96 to 40.97, a reinforced concrete slab bridge with spread footing on bedrock would be constructed to replace the existing, damaged crib wall.
    • Alternative 4 also proposes to reconstruct the washed out and damaged Route 39 roadway section for approximately 2,000 linear feet, including a realignment of the road at the Snow Spring Slide. At this location, where the most significant damage has occurred, the existing roadway would be realigned 16 feet toward the down slope by building a 890-foot mechanically stabilized earth wall along the roadway on the down slope side to support the realignment. A 20-foot rock catchment area would be constructed, along with a rock-fall fence. A 6.6-foot-deep subdrain would be installed at the bottom of the upslope.

    In April 2009, it was noted that the project is fully funded. The project is programmed in the 2008 State Highway Operation and Protection Program for $43,360,000, capital and support. Construction is estimated to begin in Fiscal Year 2010-11.

    In April 2011, it was reported that Caltrans opened Route 39 to allow motorists access to Crystal Lake Road on Tuesday, March 22 at 6:30 a.m. There is no access to Route 39 beyond Crystal Lake Road. The highway may be closed occasionally due to inclement weather. The project to repair storm damaged sections of Route 39 in the Angeles National Forest began May 2010. Two retaining walls were built to help support the highway. This $400,000 contract was awarded to Chumo Construction, Inc. of Baldwin Park, California.

    In October 2011, it was reported that despite earlier promises, Caltrans is abandoning plans to reopen a 4.4-mile section of Route 39 in the Angeles National Forest between Crystal Lake and Wrightwood, citing rising costs, engineering challenges and a mandate to protect bighorn sheep offspring. Caltrans had agreed to repair the long-closed gap in Route 39 in May 2009. After stakeholders attended several scoping meetings in Azusa, the state agency said it would spend $32 million on new drainage, an 890-foot mechanical wall and a redirected portion of the highway at Snowy Springs, about 23 miles north of Azusa and less than a mile north of Crystal Lake. The last portion of Route 39 connecting it to Highway 2 was built in 1957 by order of President Dwight Eisenhower. It washed away in heavy rains in 1978, a result of what some call shoddy engineering. It has never re-opened. In a Caltrans letter dated Sept. 26, 2011, the agency said engineering and environmental mitigations would most likely increase the project's cost, making it no longer feasible. They wrote it was likely to be washed out again, making the repair project "less than a prudent investment." They also also wrote that the California Department of Fish and Game notified Caltrans of the protected status of the big horn sheep in the area, making the reopening of the road within their habitat "problematic." Caltrans cited the recent death of a neonatal bighorn lamb on the closed portion of the highway as evidence that a working road would increase the likelihood of lambs being run over. To prevent lamb deaths, the road would therefore have to be closed or restricted during the sheep's birthing season from January to June.

    In January 2012, it was reported that Caltrans now wants to relinquish the portion of Route 39 in the San Gabriel Mountains betwween Azuza and Route 2 to either the U.S. Forest Service or Los Angeles County. L.A. County needs the highway to access three dams critical to flood control. The Forest Service's interest is access to Angeles National Forest by the public and, at times, by firefighters. The agency spent $6 million improving a spacious campground at Crystal Lake, where the highway now ends after winding along the San Gabriel River past the Morris and San Gabriel reservoirs. The problem is… neither agency wants the road. Caltrans spends $1.5 million a year maintaining the two-lane paved roadway, which is damaged regularly by landslides, flooding, falling rocks and forest fires. Further, if Caltrans abandons the road (as opposed to relinquishment), the Forest Service interpretation is that "…if Caltrans abandons the highway, they have to remove their improvements — meaning the road — and return the area to the natural landscape." A landslide swept away the highest part of the road in 1978, cutting it off from Angeles Crest Highway (Route 2). Since then, that last stretch of asphalt has been roamed by Nelson's bighorn sheep, creatures fully protected under state law. Caltrans concluded that it would be cost-prohibitive to re-engineer that 4.4-mile gap and legally risky to try because it cannot guarantee that the sheep would not be killed in the process. As a result, the highway has become what Caltrans spokesman Patrick Chandler described as "essentially a 27-mile-long cul-de-sac."
    (Source: Los Angeles Times, 1/29/2012)

    In February 2012, the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments voted unanimously to oppose Caltrans' abandonment of 27 miles of Route 39 from Azusa to Crystal Lake. The agency also voted to write a letter requesting the state transportation agency continue the project it started in 2009 to repair a 4.4-mile gap in the the highway between Islip Saddle and Wrightwood at Angeles Crest Highway. That upper portion of Route 39 has been closed to the public since 1978 due to a mud slide that damaged the roadway.

    In September 2016, a question to the Cajon Pass Commuter raised the question of whether this stretch of Route 39 would be reopened. The question was passed to Patrick Chandler, public information officer with Caltrans District 7, who said: "There are no projects to reconnect [Route 39] to [Route 2]. There was several years ago, but that's not going to happen. There is no funding for it. And it's way more than just landslides. It's way more than that."
    (Source: Victor Valley Daily Press, 9/2/2016)

    In October 2016, it was reported that, just maybe, work might proceed on reopening Route 39. A 1978 mud-and-rock slide took out a 4.4-mile chunk of the mountain highway about 27 miles north of Azusa, leaving a gap between Route 39 and Route 2, better known as Angeles Crest Highway. For decades, civic and business leaders called for repairing the broken portion of the state highway bisecting a majestic set of canyons, peaks and rivers enjoyed by more people than any other national forest. And in 2009 the state had answered in the affirmative. But in 2011, just days before construction was to begin, Caltrans announced it abandoned the fix. Instead, the $32 million set aside for Route 39 went toward repairing a bridge on Route 1 in Northern California. Now, five years after the stinging reversal, the cities of Azusa and Glendora, business groups, a local congresswoman and the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments have convinced Caltrans to consider reopening the road to Route 2. Caltrans has indicated that they are preparing the engineering design and environmental studies in support of this effort. One sticking point is the presence of the San Gabriel Mountains bighorn sheep known as Nelson’s bighorn sheep, ovis canadensis nelsoni. In 2011, Caltrans said it was unwilling to rebuild the road because motorists may run into or over the state protected species, particularly the lambs. Caltrans and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife are tussling over the issue. Caltrans would not agree to build the road without another study that shows the sheep’s location. Previous studies showed the sheep, which numbered 292 in 2006, were mostly at Cucamonga Peak, Mount Baldy, Iron Mountain and Twin Peaks, far from Islip Saddle/Snow Canyon. The San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments, a collaboration of 31 cities, three county supervisors and three water agencies, has written a letter to the U.S. Forest Service, asking to include a completed Route 39 as part of its management plan for the forest and the 346,177-acre San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. The letter, from council Executive Director Philip Hawkey, says the entire route was included in a 1919 state bond measure. The letter states completion of the 4.4-mile damaged portion would provide better access for recreation, fire suppression and search and rescue teams. Fires and floods can leave people in Mountain Cove, an Azusa mountain neighborhood, and various mountain camps and campgrounds trapped in the San Gabriel Mountains with no way out. Providing a northerly escape route through Route 39 to Route 2 would save lives and also provide quicker fire suppression responses.
    (Source: SGV Tribune, 10/17/2016)

    The 2020 SHOPP, approved in May 2020, included the NEW Long Lead Roadway Protective Betterment program item of interest: 07-Los Angeles-39 PM 40.0/44.4 PPNO 5381 Proj ID 0718000117 EA 34770. Route 39 near Falling Springs, from 1.8 miles north of Crystal Lake Road to Route 2. Rehabilitate and reopen a 4.4 mile segment of Route 39. Note: Complex environmental issues due to the protected species, Nelson’s Bighorn Sheep. This leads to risks to cost and schedule, as well as constructability concerns. Programmed in FY26-27, with construction scheduled to start in May 2027. Total estd. project cost is $57,100K, with $35,100K being capital (const and right of way) and $22,000K being support (engineering, environmental, etc.). Only the PA&ED Phase is programmed in the 2020 SHOPP for $7,900K.
    (Source: 2020 Approved SHOPP a/o May 2020)

    Naming Naming

    The proposed name for the freeway segment was the "Huntington Beach" Freeway. It was named for its terminus in Huntington Beach. Huntington Beach was named for Henry E. Huntington, nephew of Collis P. Huntington and a Southern California Utility magnate and promoter.


Post 1964 Signage History Post 1964 Signage History

Pre-1978, this was a continuous route from Route 1 to Route 2. A 1965 planning map shows this as freeway from Route 1 to Route 210; never constructed/upgraded. Route/location studies were conducted in 1958, with public hearings in 1964.

If one hikes over the planned route, one will discover two "tunnels to nowhere" and one "bridge to nowhere". These are along the E fork of the San Gabriel River. One tunnel was built in 1961; the other was built in 1964. They were to be a part of Route 39 up the East Fork of the San Gabriel River to Vincent Gap (at Route 2). The road is called present-day Shoemaker Canyon Road and is only partially paved. The Bridge to Nowhere was part of a road up the East Fork of the San Gabriel River built in 1929 to 1938, when most of the road was destroyed by a rainstorm, leaving the bridge stranded. The Road to Nowhere was another attempt made from 1954 to 1969, stopped this time by budget-cutters and environmentalists

Pre 1964 Signage History Pre 1964 Signage History

In 1934, Route 39 was signed along the route from Jct. Route 3 (US 101A, later Route 1) near Huntington Beach to Jct. Route 2 near Valyermo, via Covina.

Other WWW Links Other WWW Links

Statistics Statistics

Overall statistics for Route 39:

Freeway Freeway

[SHC 253.3] From Route 5 to Route 210. Not upgraded. The portion between Route 1 and Route 210 was added to the Freeway and Expressway system in 1959; in 1988, the Freeway and Expressway designation was redefined to Route 5 to Route 210.

Scenic Route Scenic Route

[SHC 263.4] From Route 210 near Azusa to Route 2.

Pre-1964 Legislative Route Pre-1964 Legislative Route

The route that would become LRN 39 was first defined by Chapter 680 in 1915, which called for "a state highway from Tahoe City, Placer County, along the N boundary of Lake Tahoe to the W boundary of Nevada at Crystal Bay". This was captured substantially intact in the 1935 highway code as:

"Tahoe City along the northern boundary of Lake Tahoe to the Nevada State Line at Crystal Bay"

This definition remained unchanged until the 1963 renumbering. It was signed as Route 28, and started at Route 89.


Acronyms and Explanations:


Back Arrow Route 38 Forward Arrow Route 40

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Maintained by: Daniel P. Faigin <webmaster@cahighways.org>.