It was a heady time for freeway construction in 1958 and this report from Caltrans District XI Engineer Jacob Dekema wrapped up the projects in the November-December 1958 issue of California Highways and Public Works via

This was the initial upgrade of San Diego’s main highways — then U.S. 80, U.S. 395 and U.S. 101 — to what might be called semi-freeways, as there were still parts with stoplights and street corners.

Dekema’s writing is a bit less gushing than the author in last week’s post, but he still sets up his story with some history of District IX, which included San Diego, Imperial and Riverside counties.

The district’s 1,137 miles of state highways are widely although not uniformly distributed over the 13,100 square miles that comprise the district. The district is composed of extreme variations of terrain, including coastal plain, mountainous regions reaching an elevation of 6,500 feet, as well as fertile agricultural valleys and arid desert regions. The planning, engineering and construction problems are therefore greatly diversified.

Freeway construction in 1958
Freeway construction in 1958.

If you recognize the name Jacob Dekema, that’s because Interstate 805 is named after this longtime District Engineer.

The photo at the top of this story is one I find very interesting… recognize it?

This is Rose Canyon in 1958, with then-U.S. 101 heading north and following today’s Gilman Drive. It went right through today’s UCSD and connected with Torrey Pines Road. Interstate 5 bypassed UCSD, moving east.

That thing that looks like a road that splits off from the highway? That’s the then-Santa Fe Railroad track, which still goes east to the edge of the MCAS Miramar.

The homes in the lower right are the edge of Clairemont. A few months back, I visited there with Clairemont Times columnist, Clairemont booster, unofficial San Diego Santa and baseball historian Bill Swank.

I was born in November 1958, so this is a look what San Diego was like when I started my journey.


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