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State Route 197

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 197From US 199 to Route 101 staying north of the Smith River.

Post 1964 Signage History Post 1964 Signage History

This route remains as defined in 1963.

Pre 1964 Signage History Pre 1964 Signage History

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 County.
(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")

Status Status

Truck Passing Improvements (DN 3.2 to DN 4.5)

Route 197 and US 199 ImprovementsIn 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)

Scenic Route Scenic Route

[SHC 263.1] Entire route.

Other WWW Links Other WWW Links

Statistics Statistics

Overall statistics for Route 197:

Pre-1964 Legislative Route Pre-1964 Legislative Route

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:

"[LRN 77] near Escondido to [LRN 198] near Ramona"

This definition remained unchanged until the 1963 renumbering. The route ran from US 395 (present-day I-15) near Escondido to the Route 67/Route 78 junction near Ramona. This is present-day Route 78.

Acronyms and Explanations:

Back Arrow Route 196 Forward Arrow Route 198

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