In 1960, CalTrans officials were proudly showing off the model of the planned U.S. 101 and U.S. 396 interchange at the south end of Balboa Park. San Diego would get its own four-level interchange, although there is still only one Four Level, in Los Angeles.
The plan was to widen U.S. 395, now Highway 163, to eight lanes from four, all the way through Balboa Park. The route would have remained split through the historic Cabrillo Bridge, then come together north through the rest of the park to Mission Valley.
While today’s drivers use what you see here (it was finished in 1964), the widening never happened. But, if you look closely on the south end, you can see grading and concrete roadways that abruptly end. Public outcry has kept 163 two lanes in each direction through the beloved park.
And U.S. 101? By the time the freeway opened in 1964, 101 was on its way out, replaced by Interstate 5. Known today as the “downtown S-curve,” the freeway is a bit wider in parts, but still retains most of its 1964 look.
The model includes buildings at the south end of Balboa Park, with what’s now the San Diego Air and Space Museum most prominent. Courtesy archive.org.