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State Route 123

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 123From Route 580 at San Pablo Avenue in Oakland to Route 80 in Richmond at Cutting Boulevard.

Post 1964 Signage History Post 1964 Signage History

In 1963, Route 123 was defined as the route from "Oakland to Route 80 in Richmond at Cutting Boulevard."

In 1990, Chapter 1187 clarified the definition: "Route 580 at San Pablo Avenue in Oakland to Route 80 in Richmond at Cutting Boulevard."

Pre 1964 Signage History Pre 1964 Signage History

Business Route Shield This is the old surface street routing of US 40 along San Pablo Ave. between Peralta Street and Cutting Blvd. It was LRN 14, defined in 1909. This was signed as Business US 40 until 1964. Tom Fearer has a good summary of the history of the US 40 aspects of this route on his Gibblenation blog California State Route 123/San Pablo Avenue; a trip down Old US Route 40 and the US Route terminus points in the Oakland Area. Former US 40 on San Pablo Avenue/LRN 14 apparently was signed as US 40 Business until 1964 after the mainline was moved to the East Shore Highway. By the 1964 State Highway renumbering LRN 14 south of El Cerrito to MacArthur Boulevard was assigned Route 123 while mainline US 40 was co-signed with I-80.

Note that Route 123 doesn't cover all of the older surface street routing of US 40. In particular, N of El Cerrito, former US 40, bypassed in 1958, is not part of the state highway. This is probably because the Eastshore Highway originally fed straight into San Pablo Avenue just south of Cutting Boulevard in El Cerrito (next to the current El Cerrito Del Norte BART station); that intersection was the original northern terminus of the 1940 Business US 40. In 1958, the Interstate 80 bypass north to the Carquinez Bridge was built and signed as I-80/US 40; the orphaned portion of Eastshore Highway south of Cutting Boulevard and San Pablo Avenue became a city street, while Business US 40 was extended to San Pablo Avenue north of Cutting all the way to Crockett and Rodeo. So why wasn't Route 123 designated on all of former Business US 40? This has to do with the legislative numbering history. Before the Crockett bypass portion of the Eastshore Freeway was built, the Eastshore Highway was LRN 69 from Eastshore/San Pablo in El Cerrito south to the Macarthur Maze, and San Pablo Avenue was LRN 14 from Eastshore/San Pablo south to then-US 50 (now I-580), connecting back to US 40 (now I-80) via Macarthur Boulevard and Freeway. North of the original Eastshore/San Pablo split, San Pablo Avenue was all LRN 7 to the Carquinez Bridge. But when the Crockett bypass was built for I-80/US 40, LRN 7 was completely moved over to that new freeway and did not apply to the now-business route. Thus, state maintenance did not carry over on the former alignment and only former LRN 14 (plus Cutting Boulevard, which was never part of the US 40 route and only serves to connect San Pablo Avenue with I-80.) Also orphaned by the construction of the 1958 freeway was a very small segment of the Eastshore Highway from Potrero Avenue (at its interchange with I-80) north to San Pablo Avenue; this had formerly been LRN 69 but LRN 69 was redesignated to apply specifically to the freeway in that area. That segment is now known as Eastshore Boulevard and serves to connect eastbound I-80 with northbound Route 123 past the El Cerrito Del Norte BART station. In 1964, when the great renumbering occured, the portion of Business US 40 which was now no longer covered by LRN 7 became local street; the portion of Business US 40 which was still LRN 14 is now Route 123 (which is signed at least at the Cutting/San Pablo and I-80 junction).

Route 123 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 123 between 1934 and 1964.

Status Status

San Pablo Avenue Corridor Project

123 ProjectIn November 2017, it was reported that a nine-year, $300 million-plus project to accommodate growth on the San Pablo Avenue corridor — covering more than 13 miles from Richmond’s Hilltop neighborhood to downtown Oakland — awaits user input. The project, now in the planning stages, is a partnership of the Alameda County Transportation Commission, the lead agency, and the West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee to develop a vision for the corridor through Richmond, San Pablo and El Cerrito in Contra Costa County, and Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley and Albany in Alameda County. The planning also includes consideration of new development along San Pablo that would increase foot, motor and bicycle traffic. “Jurisdictions are concentrating growth along the corridor, with several higher-density, mixed use developments recently completed and numerous others under consideration,” notes the project website. Improvements “could include transit priority treatments such as queue jump lanes and signals to bypass congested segments and improve reliability, transit signal priority, signal modernization and coordination, and enhanced bus stops or stations,” as well as measures to enhance bicycle and pedestrian safety. The project timeline envisions scoping (input), planning, engineering and design phases through 2024, with construction from winter 2024 to winter 2026. The estimated cost is $312 million, funded through federal, state and local sources.
(Source: East Bay Times, 11/20/2017)

In February 2022, it was reported that the San Pablo Avenue Corridor Project, a joint effort between seven cities, two counties (Alameda and Contra Costa), and the state of California, has been quietly and steadily moving forward since 2016. It is a part of Plan Bay Area 2040, a massive state-mandated transit and land-use project that will invest approximately $300 billion in the region over 24 years. Phase one of the San Pablo project, which wrapped in Winter 2021, created a long-term vision for the corridor, drawing on years of studies by the Alameda County Transportation Commission, AC Transit, and others. That vision—a vibrant transit hub with dedicated lanes for faster, likely electric buses, wide bike lanes, and improved walking infrastructure—is expected to be realized by 2040.  Phase two will involve the finalizing of plans, additional fundraising, and initial design changes in the four participating Alameda County cities: Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville, and Albany. By the end of 2022, final street safety designs should be approved by the county transportation commission and city councils in the four cities. Funding will be solicited from state agencies, and grants could also be awarded by year’s end. And city transportation agencies will hold public meetings and conduct community outreach to residents and businesses to solicit feedback and address any design or equity concerns. In 2017, the ACTC funded a $1.75 million study of the existing conditions along San Pablo Avenue. The goal was easy to explain but difficult to execute: Find out what’s working about San Pablo, and what’s not, across multiple cities. The report would also include a survey of community members in each city that sought to find how they used the corridor and what the biggest transit challenges were, including the lack of signage, congestion spots, and broken facilities. The study looked at the entirety of San Pablo Avenue, from Oakland in the south to Richmond in the north. It was felt to be critical to include the parts of San Pablo Avenue that are in Contra Costa County as travelers don’t have the same boundaries as government agencies. The report was published in 2018 and found that most collisions on San Pablo Avenue happened within 100 feet of intersections, mostly affecting bikers and walkers. Crossing the street was also difficult because it lacked medians, adequate crossing signals, and stop infrastructure. The study also revealed that the southern portion of San Pablo Avenue, particularly between 40th Street and Broadway in Oakland, is one of the most dangerous sections to walk or bike. The central portion, comprising Berkeley, Albany, and El Cerrito, has the most car collisions. One intersection on Solano Avenue in Albany was found to be the most dangerous spot for bicyclists.
(Source: Oaklandside, 2/17/2022)

San Pablo ProjectBy late 2018 and into 2019, after months of community focus groups and business outreach, the county commission engaged with city transportation departments to develop new road designs. Together, they came up with four options:
(Source: Oaklandside, 2/17/2022)

When presented with the options, the cities disagreed about which design elements were best. However, the four cities in Alameda County were able to narrow down the possible options. Oakland and Emeryville would use parts of concepts A and B, while Berkeley and Albany would mix in concepts A, B, and D. Throughout the community outreach process, commissioners heard from residents, especially in the four Alameda County cities, who expected near-term fixes to improve safety.  By the end of 2021, all four of the participating cities in Alameda County—Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley, and Albany—decided that it was in the public interest to pilot a program to increase safety on San Pablo Avenue within 3-5 years. County officials say this timeline will allow for the approval of final designs and funding. Initial improvements in all four cities will include pedestrian crossings with loud, audible signals, easy-to-see crosswalks with diagonal striping, and rapid flashing beacons controlled by pedestrians that alert cars to slow down. Bus stops will also get a refresh, with new curb ramps to help disabled people better access public transportation, while some will get improved lighting and hardware fixes, including new seats. Dedicated bus and bike lanes will be added in Oakland and Emeryville. Where the new bus lanes will be placed—in the middle of the street or next to the sidewalk—has not been decided. OakDOT officials, however, are leaning toward the latter. The pilot will also add better crossing tech at road intersections (a big win for bicyclists), including on transit hubs like Grand Avenue in West Oakland. However, the new bus and bike lanes proposed for Oakland and Emeryville will only extend a few blocks into Berkeley. That’s because the Alameda County Transportation Commission decided against building transit lanes through Berkeley and Albany, citing “significant concerns” heard during the project’s public outreach about taking a lane away from cars and reducing parking along the avenue. Instead of dedicated lanes, plans call for building upgraded “in-lane” bus stops through the rest of Berkeley and Albany that will let drivers pick up and drop off riders without having to pull over or merge back into traffic, which should make boarding faster. The project would also fund traffic-calming measures to encourage bicyclists to use Ninth Street as a parallel route to San Pablo, as well as improved intersections to make crossing the avenue safer for pedestrians.
(Source: Oaklandside, 2/17/2022)

As the portion of San Pablo Avenue between I-580 in Oakland and I-80 in Richmond (which includes Berkeley), is a state highway (Route 123), ACTC needs approval from the California Department of Transportation for any design or structural additions. According to the ACTC, its officials are in weekly discussions with Caltrans about the project’s scope. Still, there is no deadline for the state to approve changes.
(Source: Oaklandside, 2/17/2022)

Naming Naming

Historically, this route is close to the original "El Camino Real" (The Kings Road). A portion of this route has officially been designated as part of "El Camino Real by Assembly Bill 1707, Chapter 739, on October 11, 2001.

Other WWW Links Other WWW Links

Statistics Statistics

Overall statistics for Route 123:

Pre-1964 Legislative Route Pre-1964 Legislative Route

In 1933, Chapter 767 added two segments to the state highway system:

In 1935, this was added to the highway code as LRN 123, with the following definition:

  1. Snelling to [LRN 4] near Merced
  2. [LRN 4] near Merced southerly to [LRN 32]

This route remained unchanged until the 1963 renumbering. It was signed as Route 59.


Acronyms and Explanations:


Back Arrow Route 122 Forward Arrow Route 124

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