Old style US 101 shield US 101 Photo Gallery

Oceanside-Carlsbad Freeway:
Oceanside Bypass

1953 Map Showing Exits on the Freeway
1953 map showing interchanges on freeway. Click on image for larger view.

Part I: Carlsbad  |  Part II: Oceanside Bypass

While much of the Carlsbad portion of the freeway was built on the existing alignment, virtually all of the alignment through Oceanside was built on entirely new alignment, using the latest in freeway building technology. A testament to the quality of this construction is the fact that most of the original concrete and half the original bridges are incorporated into modern I-5

Oceanside Freeway: From Before to After

By the early 1950s, traffic had become very heavy on US 101 through Oceanside and Carlsbad, as is visible in the picture below. This necessitated the construction of a freeway on all new alignment to relieve the cities of their burdensome traffic problem. The pictures show a before shot (the traffic), a construction photograph and two photographs of the completed freeway near the time of its opening.

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Above: Pre-freeway traffic on Hill Street, 1951.

Below: Section of freeway looking south toward
Carlsbad. This bypassed congested Hill St (Old US
101) in 1953. (Caltrans)

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Above: Cut and fill construction south of Vista Way (Route 78)

Below: View of freeway looking north with Vista Way in the foreground

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Vista Way: 1953 and 1955

The pictures at right and below show the considerable effort put into constructing even a small stretch of freeway. The section pictured below, with Vista Way in the background  was built over the Buenavista Lagoon and required a lot of imported fill. Adding to the challenge was the fact the fill needed a lot of time to settle. However the result is the groomed freeway pictured to the right. Today it is still in use as part of I-5.

Waiting for the fill to settle, 1953.
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The completed freeway, 1955
The picture at right shows the Vista Way separation looking toward the south, shortly after the opening of the freeway in 1953. This is evidenced by the close-up of the "State Highway Under Construction" sign in the picture to the bottom right. The other close-up shows exit signs typical of the time. The big cantilevered sign bridges we are used to seeing would not appear for several years.
Vista Way, 1953. Note the freshly planted oleander seedlings.


Freeway Architecture and Landscaping

The pictures below show some of the distinctive characteristics of this freeway. All the bridges had the characteristic metal guardrail of the 1940s and 1950s as well as the smaller scale than today's bridges. The landscaping is also interesting as this displays a theme (the palm trees); the tall oleander that sits in the middle of today's I-5 is little more than seedlings at this time. The pictures below were taken on November 25, 1953 - very shortly after the completion of the freeway.

Sycamore Ave Undercrossing

Eighth St Overcrossing
Mission Ave was a major road even in the 1950s. One can see this with the channelized off-ramp and an overcrossing carrying a four lane road where neighboring roads were only two lanes. Note the reflective paint in the divots engraved in the curb, which is especially visible in the picture at left. This is the predecessor to the familiar plastic reflectors to which are are accustomed to seeing. The sign at left was the Division of Highways standard for the time and the painted pole shows the attention to detail once prevalent.
Mission Ave Overcrossing


Freeway / Business US 101 Separation (North)

This pictures shows the northern terminus of the Oceanside-Carlsbad Freeway shortly before its opening in 1953. Today this freeway is part of I-5 and goes through a very urbanized area, which makes it hard to imagine it was a rural bypass. However, as this picture shows, it once did go through a rural area that bears little resemblance to today's landscape. Hill St (Business US 101) branches to the right and is the dark line heading into town. The San Luis Rey River bridge, which was built in 1929 is visible in the front.

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San Luis Rey River Bridge (1955)

The bridge pictured in the foreground at left was part of US 101 from its completion in 1931 to its replacement by the current twin bridges on I-5 in 1971. It is a high level truss type bridge that looks every bit as impressive today as it did over half a century ago. When it was originally built, it was wide for its time - four lanes. It was modified in 1952 to accommodate the new freeway as it was the location where the old and new alignments split, as shown at left. The freeway split was added to the existing bridge and later removed in 1971. The freeway bridge in the background is the Hill St (now Coast Hwy)  exit.

Business US 101 and Freeway split. Note the widening of the bridge. (Caltrans)


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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.