I-5_med.gif (4416 bytes) US 101 Photo Gallery

San Clemente:
The Last Hurrah

Modern style US 101 shield

San Diego Freeway

March-April Cover of California Highways and Public Works
Click on image for larger view
One of the last sections of US 101 to have been built and signed was completed in San Clemente in November of 1960. The freeway was actually built as a signed portion of Interstate 5 to bypass San Clemente, but it was legislatively Route 2, the designation applied to US 101. It was signed as both I-5 and US 101, but after 1968, the US 101 designation was decommissioned upon the completion of I-5 through San Diego.

In 1960, San Clemente was a sleepy town of only 5,000 persons. Even so, it was a major bottleneck for through traffic between Los Angeles and San Diego. It was the last remaining section of US 101 in Los Angeles and Orange Counties that had not bee upgraded to expressway and freeway standards and was a narrow four lanes between San Juan Capistrano and the San Diego County line.

Right: The San Diego Freeway through San Clemente is featured on this cover of California Highways and Public Works, March-April, 1961. The view is looking south.

end_fwy_san_clemente_1959.jpg (21825 bytes)

End of the Line (1959)

By the end of 1958, the Division of Highways completed
a very short stretch of US 101 between the San Diego
County line and El Camino Real just a couple of miles to
the north. Construction for the contract between El
Camino Real and just north of US 101A (Pacific Coast
Highway) was already in progress, although it would take
until October 1961 to finish. This portion of the San Diego
Fwy is significant since it is the last section to have been
built as US 101 and not I-5. The picture shows a US 101
shield being put up with no evidence of an I-5 shield.

  Left: The end of the 1958 alignment was at El Camino Real.
(Photograph courtesy of Caltrans)


Coast Freeways

I-5 was built to completely bypass San Clemente as an inland route as shown to the right. The pictures below show what was to have been the interchange for the southern terminus of the "Pacific Coast Freeway," an ill-advised project that was to have plowed through many coastal towns.

Right:  I-5 (US 101) soon after completion in 1961. Note old El Camino Real which is the dark line diverging to the left of the freeway.
Below: Two views of the San Diego Fwy / Pacific Coast Hwy (SR-1 née US 101A) interchange. In 1963 at left and following completion in 1961 at right. Note the increased development at left.
(All photographs courtesy of Caltrans)

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101-101a-dana_point_1963.jpg (45688 bytes) 101-dana_point_1961a.jpg (43419 bytes)


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Camino Capistrano (1966)

These bridges mark the northern extent of the six-lane 1960 freeway. This is the point where the new construction linked to the section completed in 1959. The ramp on which the car is driving previously served as the transition from old US 101 to the completed 1958freeway heading north. The bridges were widened outward in 1969, but with the same style guardrail so that today the bridges look very similar to the one in the picture. (Photograph courtesy of Caltrans).

Click on shield to go to the US 101 page. San Juan Capistrano
Camp Pendleton

South Orange County and Camp Pendleton

US 101 Page

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If you have any questions, comments, or if you would like to send me any updates or pictures, please contact me at: casey@gbcnet.com.