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State Shield

State Route 90

Click here for a key to the symbols used. An explanation of acronyms may be found at the bottom of the page.


Routing Routing

Rte 90From Route 1 northwest of the Los Angeles International Airport to Route 91 in Santa Ana Canyon passing near La Habra, except for the portion within the city limits of Yorba Linda.

The relinquished former portion of Route 90 within the City of Yorba Linda is not a state highway and is not eligible for adoption [as a state highway]. The City of Yorba Linda shall ensure the continuity of traffic flow on the relinquished former portion of Route 90, including any traffic signal progression, as well as maintaining signs directing motorists to the continuation of Route 90.

Post 1964 Signage History Post 1964 Signage History

In 1963, Route 90 was defined as "Route 1 northwest of the Los Angeles International Airport to Route 605.", and consisted solely of the former LRN 221.

In 1965, Chapter 1330 transferred the portion from Route 605 to the junction of Routes 39 and the then Route 42 near La Habra (former LRN 176) were transferred from Route 42 (and thus, Route 90 gained the Yorba Linda freeway). This made the definition for Route 90: "Route 90 is from Route 1 northwest of the Los Angeles International Airport to the junction of Routes 39 and 42 near La Habra." Route 42 was redefined to be (1) from Route 1 west of Inglewood to Route 605 and (2) Route 39 near La Habra to Route 91 in Santa Ana Canyon. Chapter 1372 also amended the route that year, but appeared to make no other changes. Astute observers will note that this left Route 90 and Route 42 roughly parallel.

Construction on the route begin in 1966 between Centinela Ave and I-405. The remainder of the route to the W, between Centinela and Route 1 was pending completion of the Pacific Coast Freeway. Eventually, that freeway was abandoned and the western segment was constructed as a limited-access expressway. The eastern portion (Slauson Freeway) still had no route determination, and has not been constructed to date. As a personal footnote here: I remember distinctly driving with my brother on Route 90, right after it opened, sometime in 1968 or 1969.

In 1968, Chapter 282 transferred segment (1) of Route 42 to Route 105, and segment (2) to Route 90, making the definition "Route 1 northwest of the Los Angeles International Airport to Route 91 in Santa Ana Canyon passing near La Habra."

In April 2002, AB 885 (Chapter 27, 4/23/2002) permitted the relinquishment of that portion of Route 90 in the city of Yorba Linda. Upon relinquishment, the relinquished portion (a) ceases to be a state highway; and (b) may not be considered for future adoption as a state highway. The City of Yorba Linda is required to ensure the continuity of traffic flow on the relinquished portion of Route 90 (including any traffic signal progressions), and must maintain signs directing motorists to the continuation of Route 90. This reliniquishment was done to permit the City of Yorba Linda to quickly assume and complete various construction and maintenance projects on the applicable portion of Route 90 that were underway in 2002 or in the planning and development stages.

In 2003, AB 1717 (Chapter 525, 9/25/2003) changed the legislative definition to reflect the relinquishment.

Pre 1964 Signage History Pre 1964 Signage History

This route was unsigned in 1963. It did, however, have a legislative definition:

  1. LRN 221, proposed, with no routing determined, between Lincoln Blvd and LRN 170 (future I-605). This corresponds to the remainder of the original Route 90 definition, and the unconstructed portion. The portion between Route 1 and I-110 was defined in 1947; the remainder in 1959.
  2. LRN 176, which runs from the Route 42/LRN 170 (I-605) junction to Yorba Linda. This corresponds to the subsequently added portion of the route that used to be part of Route 42. It also helps to explain why the route was shown as it was on some maps. The portion between Route 39 and Route 91 was defined in 1933; the remainder in 1959.

X-ed Out Pre-1964 State Shield Sign Route 90 was not defined as part of the initial state signage of routes in 1934. It is unclear what (if any) route was signed as Route 90 between 1934 and 1964.

The route had its origins in the 1933 definition of LRN 176 as "Buena Park-Azuza Road near La Habra to LRN 43 in Santa Ana Canyon via Brea." The first routing was aligned between LRN 62 in La Habra eastward to LRN 43 via Cedar Street (late renamed Imperial Highway). 1935 maps show LRN 176 originating at Route 39/LRN 62 in La Habra.  LRN 176 followed Cedar Street (Imperial Highway) to Loftus.  It then followed an interim alignment via Carolina Street (Kramer Boulevard), Golden Avenue, Rose Drive, Citrus Avenue (Bastanchury Road) and Plumosa Avenue to Yorba Linda.  From Yorba Linda, LRN 176 followed Imperial Highway, Yorba Linda Boulevard, Ohio Street, Mountain View Avenue and Kellogg Drive to Route 14/LRN 175 at Placentia-Yorba Linda Boulevard.  It did not yet connect to Route 18/LRN 43 (today's Route 91). In 1936, a new alignment of LRN 176 between Cedar Street to Luitweiler Avenue was started as a Federal Emergency Relief Project. 
(Source: Gribblenation Blog (Tom Fearer), "California State Route 90", June 2022)

It is unclear exactly when the Imperial Highway name came to this segment, but the basic Imperial Highway route was determined in 1931, and the section in Yorba Linda was completed in 1937. In announcing the completion of the work on 7/31/1937, the August 1937 California Highways & Public Works indicated that Imperial Highway was to have an eventual planned western terminus in El Segundo.  Imperial Highway had a much longer definition, but the LRN 176 portion runs along Imperial Highway (from Firestone and Imperial, the Route 42/Route 90 junction, although postmiles for Route 90 in the postmile tool do not begin until Route 39). The name "Imperial" refers to the Imperial Valley, which took its name from the Imperial Land Co., a subsidiary of the California Development Company charged with reclaiming the water-starved but arable land east of San Diego for agricultural purposes in the early 1900s. The company began building canals in 1900, diverting water from the Colorado River for irrigation, and forming the Salton Sea in the process. The Los Angeles area wanted to patch together a superhighway that would stretch from the Pacific all the way to Brawley in the Imperial Valley, a distance of 215 miles; the route was later extended a few miles farther south to El Centro. The most route roughly followed the old Butterfield Stage overland route, established in 1858: across the desert (Route 78) and along today’s Route 79 to Temecula, where it headed on to Corona via Lake Elsinore and Temescal Canyon (Route 71, later I-15). There the road turned left down the Santa Ana Canyon on its way to Yorba Linda (present-day Route 91) and La Habra (present-day Route 90), then across Los Angeles County to meet the sea at El Segundo (as Imperial Highway, although it is paralleled by I-105). The extension to Brawley was along Route 86 The early Imperial Highway plans involved connecting a patchwork assortment of roads of varying length and quality.  In 1912, a group of Los Angeles boosters informally known as the Committee of One Hundred, working with Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside and Imperial counties, settled on a route along the edge of the inland Salton Sea that completely bypassed San Diego County, from which Imperial County had been split off in 1907. The Los Angeles section of road would be mostly a straight shot from LAX to Anaheim, where the proposed road would dip south diagonally before eventually reaching the Imperial Valley. By the 1920s, the efficacy of the Imperial Highway concept had become apparent, and a new and more forceful private group, the Imperial Highway Association, was formed in 1929 to encourage the regions involved to mount a fully cooperative effort, including working closely with San Diego County, to get the job done. The association adopted an official route for a more streamlined, uniform highway in 1931 that ran slightly west of the earlier Salton Sea route. The improved roadway, now referred to informally as “the Cannon Ball Road,” would eliminate tight right angle turns that slowed trucks, smooth and widen the various roadways involved, and have new bridges where necessary. A major section in Yorba Linda was completed in 1937. Two-lane portions of the highway through Inglewood had to be expanded to four. A  bridge over the Los Angeles River, completed in 1951, eliminated a crucial bottleneck; it replaced an old one that collapsed in 1948. The final section of the Imperial Highway as envisioned by the association was completed, and it was dedicated a scenic highway in a ceremony on the Imperial-San Diego county border in December 1961. Of its 220 total miles, 77 were county roads, with the rest being state highways. The cost to complete the project was estimated at $16 million (about $138 million in 2020 dollars). In 1965, Caltrans planned a new freeway along the path of Imperial Highway, from LAX to Norwalk. It opened in 1993 as I-105, though Imperial Highway itself remained in place, if somewhat less crucial than it once was. Through Orange County, Imperial Highway was Route 90. Major chunks of the roadway through Riverside and San Diego counties were subsumed by newer freeways and highways over the years. The 41-mile Los Angeles stretch, which passes through El Segundo, Hawthorne, Inglewood, South Los Angeles, Lynwood, South Gate, Downey, Norwalk, Santa Fe Springs and La Mirada, retains the original Imperial Highway name, as does a section of Route 86 in El Centro (also known as Imperial Avenue).
(Source: Daily Breeze, “South Bay History: Imperial Highway once figured as part of a superhighway plan”, 3/29/2021; Orange County History “The Imperial Highway”, 2011)

By 1940, the extension of LRN 176 from Yorba Linda to CA 18/LRN 43 was appearing on maps.
(Source: Gribblenation Blog (Tom Fearer), "California State Route 90", June 2022)

In 1947, LRN 221 was defined as "A point on LRN 60 (US Route 101A) near Los Angeles Airport to a point on LRN 165 (US 6/Route 11) between Santa Barbara and Slauson Avenues.", which was changed in 1953 to "Los Angeles International Airport to a point on LRN 165 the Harbor Freeway, between Santa Barbara Avenue and Florence Avenue."
(Source: Gribblenation Blog (Tom Fearer), "California State Route 90", June 2022)

In 1956, it was announced that Route 14/LRN 175 (future Route 91) had been shifted to the first unit of the Houston Expressway between from Cypress Avenue to Santa Ana Canyon Road.  The realignment of Route 14/LRN 175 onto the Houston Expressway extended LRN 176 to finally reach US 91/Pre-1964 Route 18/LRN 43. In 1959, a freeway corridor for LRN 176 was adopted that would connect Yorba Linda Boulevard to the Newport Freeway.  In 1960, this was called the "Imperial Freeway", and later the "Imperial-Yorba Linda Freeway". The initial 2.3 miles of the Yorba Linda Freeway to US 91 opened on February 8th, 1963.
(Source: Gribblenation Blog (Tom Fearer), "California State Route 90", June 2022)

In 1960, it was reported in CHPW that a section 3.9 miles long in the Culver City-West Los Angeles area was adopted on December 16, 1959 as a freeway by the California Highway Commission. The estimate of cost for ultimate development to eight lanes is $30,800,000 for right-of-way acquisition and construction. The Marina Freeway will provide traffic service for the motorists using recreational facilities in the Santa Monica Bay area, and it could eventually serve as a part of the East-West Slauson Freeway that was included in Senate Bill 480. Route 90 was planned as 22.2 miles consisting of both the Mariana Freeway and Slauson Freeway corridors.  The corridor of Route 90 planned to connect Route 1/Pacific Coast Highway at Lincoln Boulevard east to I-605/San Gabriel River Freeway. 

In 1963, it was noted that the easterly continuation of the Marina Freeway was under study, and would be called the Slauson Freeway E of I-405.

Status Status

Unsigned The portion from Inglewood to where Route 90 meets Route 39 is unsigned; small sections are freeway; orginally planned as freeway from Route 1 to Route 605 as the Marina-Slauson Freeway, with the remainder of the route (along Route 42) to have been the Yorba Linda Freeway. The traversable local routing is Slauson Avenue, which does not have adequate construction. The route concept report recommends deletion of Route 90 from the state highway system from unconstructed Route 258 to the Orange County line.

Western End (Marina Freeway)

There is a plan, on the western end, to extend the Marina Freeway west to Mindanao by building a full interchange and grade-separation at Culver.

According to the Daily Breeze in March 2006, Los Angeles County Public Works (see http://www.sr90admiraltyway.org/) has a plan to relieve clogged intersections in and around Marina del Rey by extending the Marina (Route 90) Freeway past Lincoln Boulevard, allowing motorists to bypass the busy thoroughfare on their way to the water (not all of this would be Caltrans, unless the legislative definition is changed). Note that portions of this would not be state highway; specifically, the portion W of Lincoln Blvd. This connector would provide a direct link to Admiralty Way, a four-lane road lined with boat storage, retailers and park space that circles the marina. An alternative being considered would widen Admiralty Way to handle heavier volumes of traffic from new and future residential developments. These projects are being planned at the county level, and would result in the addition of an exit at Lincoln Blvd. A draft environmental impact report is not expected to be finished until 2007, and construction isn't anticipated until at least 2011. The department is studying three options for a freeway connector, all of which would require the freeway to be realigned between Mindanao Way and Lincoln Boulevard:

Eastern End (Yorba Linda)

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

In February 2016, it was reported that the city of La Mirada has places to improve the intersection of Imperial Highway (Route 90) and La Mirada Boulevard-Telegraph Road. Specifically, city officials have a plan to add an extra lane on the west bound (north side) of Imperial Highway to try and relieve some of the problem. About 1,900 cars use Imperial Highway going west in the morning and evening, according to Los Angeles Public Works Department traffic counts. It only has two through lanes and some right-turn lanes. City officials have long sought to improve the intersection, but when two deals to redevelop the then-vacant Crossroads Center fell through in the 2000s, plans to realign Telegraph Road were put on hold. The first step in the plan is to remove two median islands at the Telegraph and Imperial intersection. Cost of this first project is estimated at $1 million, $450,000 of which will come from a Los Angeles County grant. The second step is to acquire land in front of Walgreens and Banc of California and create a new lane from La Mirada Boulevard to Telegraph, on Imperial. That will allow for the addition of a new lane on westbound Imperial.
(Source: Whittier Daily News, 2/29/2016)

In June 2021, the CTC authorized relinquishment of 3 segments of right-of-way, consisting of collateral facilities in the county of Orange along Route 90 on Esperanza Road (12-Ora-90-PM 11.8/12.7), under the terms and conditions as stated in Resolution No. 20-053 dated June 2, 2020.  The County, by letter dated May 27, 2021, agreed to waive the 90-day notice requirement and accept title upon relinquishment by the State.
(Source: June 2021 CTC Agenda, Agenda Item 2.3c)

Orangethorpe Rail Separation

On the eastern end, there is currently a plan to extend the freeway portion of this route over Orangethorpe Avenue/Esperanza Road (~ ORA 12.312) and the subsequent rail grade, due to increasing rail traffic. Also in the works are plans to expand this road using the old Pacific Electric right of way through Yorba Linda (construction has started in Yorba Linda). Brea also has expansion plans, and Placentia needs only to restripe the road (all .3 miles of it) when the expansion on either side is finished. Eventually, Imperial Highway will be 3 lanes between Route 39 and Santa Ana Canyon Road. However, as of 2004, it appears that funding problems have waylayed the Imperial Highway bridge over the BNSF grade that it crosses near Anaheim and unincorporated Yorba Linda.

As of August 2002, construction in Yorba Linda is complete. Dennis Carr reports that they even moved the remaining rail car down near Polly's Pies, at the crossing of Imperial Hwy and Lemon St, which as he understands it was the location of the old PE rail station in Yorba Linda. In June 2002, the CTC had on its agenda the relinquishment of 12-Ora-90-KP 12.87/16.25 and KP 16.25/18.91 in the City of Yorba Linda. This is likely the original highway bypassed by the new construction.

Naming Naming

Marina FreewayThe segment of this freeway from Route 1 to Route 91 (although it is not all constructed to freeway standards) is named the "Marina Freeway". It was named by Senate Concurrent Resolution 56, Chapter 25 in 1976. The Marina Freeway opened in 1968.
(Image source: AAroads)

Richard M. NixonBetween 1971 and 1976, the entire route (adopted and unadopted portions) was named the "Richard M Nixon Freeway". Richard Nixon was the 37th President of the United States. Born in California in 1913, Nixon had a brilliant record at Whittier College and Duke University Law School before beginning the practice of law. He served as both a congressman and a senator from California, and was Vice President under President Eisenhower. He was elected president in 1968, and served until he resigned in 1974. For more details, consult his official biography or visit the Richard M Nixon Library. A snippit from the Los Angeles times shows the resolution was past in the August-September 1971 timeframe, and was authored by Assemblyman John Briggs (R-Fullerton). Briggs sought the naming because the potential freeway would run through Whitter (where Nixon grew up) and end in Yorba Linda (where he was born).
(Image source: LA Times, Wikipedia)

This was originally to have been named the "Marina-Slauson Freeway", and would have run to I-605.

The portion of this route constructed to freeway standards in Orange County is named the "Yorba Linda Freeway", and opened in 1970. It was named by location.

Richard Nixon ParkwayThe portion of the former freeway in Yorba Linda has been renamed the Richard Nixon Parkway by the Yorba Linda City Council. They recently finished an upgrade project, funded by the City of Yorba Linda, which turned the Super 2 into a Super 4 (except for a 4/10 of a mile stretch still controlled by the state). The city council, having been given control of that portion of SR-90, decided that they no longer wanted it to be called a freeway, so they've renamed it and have removed all references to the term "freeway" from local signs, including removing the "Freeway Entrance" signs from its one controlled access intersection, Kellogg Dr.
(Image source: GKids Films on Twitter, Wikipedia)

Freeway Freeway

[SHC 253.1] Entire route. Added to the Freeway and Expressway system in 1959.

Classified Landcaped Freeway Classified Landcaped Freeway

The following segments are designated as Classified Landscaped Freeway:

County Route Starting PM Ending PM
Los Angeles 90 1.11 2.76

Exit Information Exit Information

Other WWW Links Other WWW Links

Statistics Statistics

Overall statistics for Route 90:

Pre-1964 Legislative Route Pre-1964 Legislative Route

In 1933, the segment from "[LRN 7] near Vacaville to [LRN 7] near Dunnigan" was added to the highway system. In 1935, this definition was codified as LRN 90 in the highway system. This route ran from US 40 near Vacaville to US 99W near Dunnigan. It appears to have been unsigned in 1963; it is present-day I-505.


Acronyms and Explanations:


Back Arrow Route 89 Forward Arrow Route 91

© 1996-2020 Daniel P. Faigin.
Maintained by: Daniel P. Faigin <webmaster@cahighways.org>.