Click here for a key to the symbols used. An explanation of acronyms may be found at the bottom of the page.
This route remains as defined in 1963.
This was LRN 81, defined in 1933.
According to research done by Tom Fearer, LRN 81 was an adoption of the
already existing North Bank Road. North Bank Road can be seen on the
1917 California State Automobile Association Map of California. It is
first shown as LRN 81 on the 1935 Division of Highways Map of Del Norte
(Source: Gribblenation Blog, "California State Route 197")
Sign Route 197 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 197
between 1934 and 1964. Sign Route 197 first appears on a state highway map
in 1964, and appears to have been first signed in 1969*.
(* Source: Gribblenation Blog, "California State Route 197")
Truck Passing Improvements (DN 3.2 to DN 4.5)
In December 2012, the CTC reviewed a draft EIR related to improvements on Route 197 and US 199 and had no comments. The project will improve spot locations on Route 197 and US 199 in Del Norte County so that two Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) trucks passing in opposite directions can be accommodated. Within the project limits, Route 197 and US 199 are rugged, two-lane conventional highways with tight curves and steep-cut slopes providing narrow traffic lanes with narrow shoulders (if shoulders exist). Route 197 is the designated route for the movement of extralegal truck loads between US 101 and US 199 because it avoids traversing Jedediah Smith Redwoods Park. Known as North Bank Road, Route 197 was built in the 1930s. US 199 in the project limits traverses the Middle Fork Smith River and was built in the early 1920s and is a tightly curved alignment with spectacular views. The proposed work consists of roadway widening, shoulder widening, roadway curve improvements, bridge replacements and culvert replacements. The project will bring Route 197 and US 199 into compliance with federal and state legislations regarding access for STAA trucks. It is split into four projects: Ruby 1 (EA 48110, Route 197 PM 4.5) is fully funded in the SHOPP Minor A Program. It would lengthen the curve and increase shoulder width. Culverts and drainage would be adjusted. The total estimated cost is $2,499,000. Construction is estimated to begin in Fiscal Year 2013-14. Ruby 2 (EA 45490, Route 197, PM 3.2 to 4.0) is fully funded in the SHOPP Minor A Program. This would improve the existing road curve, roadbed elevation, and roadway width. Different alternatives have slightly different roadway and shoulder widths. The total estimated cost is $3,400,000. Construction is estimated to begin in Fiscal Year 2014-15. Patrick Creek Narrows (PPNO 1047) will improve US 199 from Post Mile 20.5 to 20.7, Post Mile 23.9 to 24.3, and Post Mile 25.55 to 25.65. Most of these involve improving curves and slight roadway widening. It would also replace the existing Middle Fork Smith River bridge with either an upstream or downstream alternative, or rework the existing bridge to allow large trucks to cross. The project is programmed in the 2012 STIP. The total estimated cost for capital and support is $21,302,000. Construction is estimated to begin in Fiscal Year 2012-13. The Narrows and Washington Curve (PPNO 1073) will improve US 199 from Post Mile 22.7 to 23.0 (Narrows), and from PM 26.3 to 26.5 (Washington Curve). These involve lane widening and curve improvement. The project is programmed in the 2012 SHOPP. The total estimated cost for capital and support is $6,750,000. Construction is estimated to begin in Fiscal Year 2015-16. For these four projects, there are a total 12 build alternatives being proposed as well as the no build alternative
In June 2013, the CTC accepted the environmental document for Ruby 1, Ruby 2, Patrick Creek Narrows, and Narrows and Washington Curve.
In September 2020, it was reported that the Crescent
City Harbor District added support to the Del Norte Local Transportation
Commission for a project to bring Route 199 and Route 197 up to 1982
trucking standards. Harbor commissioners unanimously approved a resolution
reaffirming their support for the project, which has been stalled when
Friends of Del Norte, the Environmental Protection Information Center and
the Center For Biological Diversity obtained an injunction in 2014. The
Harbor District’s vote comes about two weeks after a federal judge
in the case awarded intervenor status to the Del Norte Local
Transportation Commission. According to a staff report, the Local
Transportation Commission argued that it is local elected officials, not
the litigants, who represent the public. The Del Norte Unified School
District Board of Trustees has also unanimously declared their support for
the STAA 197/199 project, stating that widening the road is also essential
for school buses. The $34 million project includes widening three curves
on US 199 and replacing a bridge that was built in 1924. It also consists
of widening two curves on Route 197 near Ruby Van Deventer County Park.
Caltrans’ goal is to make the project safer for trucks meeting the
1982 Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) standard. The project
has been paid for with state and federal dollars since 2008 and was about
to enter the construction phase when Friends of Del Norte, EPIC and Center
For Biological Diversity initiated a lawsuit that stalled the project in
2014. The three conservation groups argued that allowing for the larger
STAA trucks would increase, rather than decrease the risk to safety on the
two roads. The three groups are also concerned about the possibility of a
hazardous material spill impacting the Smith River. However, restricting
the travel of trucks carrying hazardous materials down US 199 and Route 197 could circumvent that argument.
(Source: Wild Rivers Outpost, 9/1/2020)
In March 2022, it was reported that a federal judge had
lifted the injunction that prevented Caltrans from completing road
improvements on two highways which, at many points, run directly alongside
the wild Smith River. Specifically, U.S. District Judge James Donato
lifted the nearly decadelong injunction after finding Caltrans’
revised plans for improvements on US 199 and Route 197 did not violate the
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Plaintiffs
Friends of Del Norte, an environmental group based in the state
northwesternmost county, sued Caltrans claiming plans for improving the
highways posed a threat to the salmon that inhabit the 25-mile river. The
project had been intended to facilitate the movement of large trucks. But
in 2014 the judge found "serious questions about the adequacy of the
reviews and consultation process that Caltrans and National Marine
Fisheries Service conducted under the Endangered Species Act.” At
the time, the court found “contradictions and critical gaps in
reasoning” in the two agencies’ assessments of the project's
effects, and even whether a formal consultation was required under the
Endangered Species Act. Two species of endangered salmon, coho and
Chinook, inhabit the river along with cutthroat and steelhead trout,
according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Rather than appealing, Caltrans
launched a second round of consultations with the Fisheries Service, which
resulted in a revised evaluation of the project’s potential effects.
(Source: Missoula Current, 3/4/2023)
[SHC 263.1] Entire route.
Overall statistics for Route 197:
In 1933, Chapter 767 defined the route from "[LRN 77] near Escondido to El Cajon-Santa Ysabel Road near Ramona" as part of the state highway system. In 1935, this route was added to the highway code as LRN 197 with the routing:
Acronyms and Explanations:
Route 196 Route 198
© 1996-2020 Daniel P. Faigin.
Maintained by: Daniel P. Faigin <email@example.com>.