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Bayshore Freeway

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U.S. Route 101 marker

Bayshore Freeway
Bayshore Freeway highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by Caltrans
Length56.4 mi[1] (90.8 km)
Major junctions
South end US 101 at Blossom Hill Road (former SR 82) in San Jose
North end US 101 / I-80 in San Francisco
CountiesSanta Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco
Highway system

The Bayshore Freeway is a part of U.S. Route 101 (US 101) in the San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S. state of California. It runs along the west shore of the San Francisco Bay, connecting San Jose with San Francisco. Within the city of San Francisco, the freeway is also known as James Lick Freeway, named after the California philanthropist. The road was originally built as a surface road, the Bayshore Highway, and later upgraded to freeway standards. Before 1964, it was mostly marked as U.S. Route 101 Bypass, with US 101 using the present State Route 82 (El Camino Real).

Route description[edit]

The Bayshore Freeway begins at the Blossom Hill Road interchange on US 101. The freeway curves north and northwest, bypassing downtown San Jose to the east, and then curves west-northwest, crossing I-880 and SR 87, the latter just north of the San Jose International Airport. The portion of the highway from San Jose to South San Francisco is relatively straight and flat, running near the west edge of the San Francisco Bay. Junctions here include SR 237 in Sunnyvale, SR 85 in Mountain View, SR 84 in Menlo Park and Redwood City, SR 92 in San Mateo, and the San Francisco International Airport and I-380 in San Bruno. In South San Francisco, the freeway curves northeast around San Bruno Mountain, crossing its east edge at Sierra Point, and then heads north on a causeway across the former Candlestick Cove to the San Francisco city line.[2]

The San Francisco Skyway over Third Street

In San Francisco, where the road is also known as the James Lick Freeway, it continues north-northwesterly between Bayview Park and McLaren Park, and crosses I-280 at the Alemany Maze. There it curves north-northeasterly around Bernal Heights and then northwest around Potrero Hill, meeting the Central Freeway at the border between the Mission District and South of Market. The Bayshore Freeway ends at the intersection of US 101 and Interstate 80,[3] which, although signed as Interstate 80, is not officially Interstate 80 until the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The freeway that goes from US 101 to the Bay Bridge that is signed as I-80 but not officially I-80 is called the San Francisco Skyway.


Initial construction[edit]

Before the Dumbarton and San Mateo-Hayward Bridges were built across the San Francisco Bay in the 1920s, San Francisco was bottled up at the north end of a long peninsula, with driving south on El Camino Real towards San Jose as the only reasonable alternative to the ferries for crossing the bay. The first of several highways built as an alternate to El Camino Real was the Skyline Boulevard, which was added to the state highway system in 1919. A second route, the Bay Shore Highway (Route 68[4]), became a state highway in 1923, but only from the San Francisco city limits into San Mateo County, where the Dumbarton Bridge would begin.[5] Just prior to the start of construction on the Dumbarton Bridge, San Francisco Supervisor Richard J. Welch noted that the Bay Shore Highway would need to be built all the way to San Jose as an escape valve for the additional traffic that the bridge would attract.[6]

Looking west at the Sierra Point cut in Brisbane, 1929. The road crosses over Tunnel 5 of the Bayshore Cutoff rail line.

The state legislature extended the highway in 1925, defining it to run from near the intersection of Army Street (Cesar Chavez Street) and San Bruno Avenue in San Francisco to a point in San Jose. The governor approved the bill with the stipulation that only the portion between the city limits of San Francisco and San Jose would be a state highway.[7] Construction between South San Francisco and Burlingame had begun by 1924, funded by a $500,000 contribution from San Francisco, and was completed in 1928. A disconnected segment north of San Mateo was built by the state at the same time. It was not until February 1929 that the road was fully paved between San Francisco and Burlingame, and on October 20, 1929 the new highway was officially dedicated to San Mateo,[6][8][9] several months after the connecting San Mateo-Hayward Bridge opened (at what is now Third Avenue[10]).[11] Even then, motorists had to wait until May 7, 1931 to reach Jefferson Avenue in Redwood City (near the west end of the four-year-old Dumbarton Bridge).[12] The roadway was extended to Oregon Avenue in Palo Alto in mid-1932,[13][14] Lawrence Station Road in mid-1933,[15][16] and to Lafayette Street near Santa Clara, across the Guadalupe River from San Jose, by 1934.[17] The final piece to Oakland Road (13th Street) in San Jose, which was then the main road - Legislative Route 5 and Sign Route 17 - between San Jose and Oakland,[18] was dedicated on June 12, 1937,[19] over ten years after the Dumbarton Bridge opened in January 1927.[20]

By-pass plate.svg
US 101 (1961 cutout).svg
The Bayshore Highway was marked as a bypass of US 101 by 1939.

Although the highway was designed and built to what were, at the time, high standards, with a 100-foot (30 m) wide right-of-way in most places, it was accident-prone because it lacked a median barrier.[6][9] One segment of the so-called "Bloody Bayshore" was "Boneyard Hill", a steep grade through the Visitacion Valley near the San Francisco city line, running past a bone meal plant. Causes of the crashes included turning conflicts at intersections, and speeding drivers crossing the centerline to use the oncoming lanes as a passing lane.[21][22] The roadway was entirely at-grade except for crossings of rail lines. It generally followed the present alignment of the Bayshore Freeway, but deviated in several places: Old Bayshore Highway in San Jose, Veterans Boulevard in Redwood City, Bayshore Highway in Burlingame, a destroyed section of road through San Francisco International Airport, and Airport and Bayshore Boulevards from South San Francisco through Brisbane into San Francisco. Within that city, the new highway continued three miles (5 km) along the present Bay Shore Boulevard to Army (Cesar Chavez) Street and Potrero Avenue.[23]

The four-lane Bayshore Highway

When the Bayshore Highway was completed in 1937, U.S. Route 101 signs were moved to it from El Camino Real, and El Camino became U.S. Route 101 Alternate. Businesses along El Camino created the El Camino Real Association to protest the move and resulting loss of business,[24] and by 1939 the main route had been moved back, with the Bayshore Highway becoming U.S. Route 101 Bypass.[25] The two routes split in San Jose at the junction of First and Second Streets near Keyes Street, with the El Camino route mostly following the present SR 82 and the Bayshore route using locally maintained Second, Reed, and Fourth Streets to reach the state-maintained Bayshore Highway.[18][26] In San Francisco, they rejoined at the present location of the Alemany Maze, with the El Camino route following Alemany Boulevard from near the city line; from there US 101 continued north on Bay Shore Boulevard, Potrero Avenue, and 10th and Fell Streets to Van Ness Avenue, meeting the Bay Bridge approach (US 40/US 50) at Bryant and Harrison Streets.[27] The Bryant/Harrison one-way pair was added to Route 68 (which already included the bridge) in 1937[28] and removed in 1947 along with the bridge;[29] in 1961 the new freeway approach became part of Route 68, which was extended back over the bridge to Route 5 at its Oakland landfall.[30][31]

Construction of an extension to Route 115 (Santa Clara Street, now SR 130) at 30th Street in San Jose began in 1939,[32][33] and was completed by late 1940.[34] As with the portion between Fourth and 13th Streets, it was not marked as a numbered route.[18] The state legislature authorized an extension beyond San Jose back to El Camino Real near Ford Road in 1947,[29] which was already under construction, and was completed that year.[35] This was the first segment built with interchanges, and included a median barrier. Despite this, most crossings were at-grade; only the two ends at Route 115 (Santa Clara Street) and regular US 101 included bridges, the former a diamond interchange and the latter a simple split with additional access to Ford Road. It also crossed over Coyote Road, though with no access, just south of the Coyote Creek bridge.[36] The original 1947 bridge over Coyote Road remains, though widened in 1990, and is one of the oldest road-road grade separations on the present freeway.[37]


2014 view of the Bayshore Freeway at Hillsdale Boulevard

By 1940, at the dawn of the freeway era, the state was making plans to convert the Bayshore Highway into a ten-lane Bayshore Freeway between San Francisco and Palo Alto.[35][38] The first piece built was from Peninsula Avenue at the San Mateo-Burlingame line to South San Francisco. This six-lane freeway, completed in 1949,[35] followed the existing highway to Broadway in Burlingame, but then took a more inland alignment past the San Francisco International Airport, and crossed the old road at South San Francisco, running just east of it to near the south end of the cut at Sierra Point.[39] Construction began inside San Francisco in 1950 and was completed in 1958; the new causeway across Candlestick Cove, connecting the completed section in South San Francisco with San Francisco, was dedicated in mid-1957.[35] In 1951, the state legislature renamed the portion within San Francisco after James Lick, a California pioneer and philanthropist.[40]

A movement to make the four-lane undivided "Bloody Bayshore" safer all the way to San Jose began in Palo Alto.[22] As a temporary measure, the state lowered the speed limit, installed traffic signals, closed minor crossroads, and prohibited left turns in places. The community convinced the state to extend the six-lane freeway,[41] which was completed in 1962.[35] The freeway continued to end at the old El Camino Real merge near Ford Road until the early 1980s, when the South Valley Freeway was constructed.[37]

Exit list[edit]

Except where prefixed with a letter, postmiles were measured on the road as it was in 1964, based on the alignment that existed at the time, and do not necessarily reflect current mileage. R reflects a realignment in the route since then, M indicates a second realignment, L refers an overlap due to a correction or change, and T indicates postmiles classified as temporary (for a full list of prefixes, see the list of postmile definitions).[42] Segments that remain unconstructed or have been relinquished to local control may be omitted. The numbers reset at county lines; the start and end postmiles in each county are given in the county column.

Santa Clara
SCL R28.61-52.55
San JoseR28.61 US 101 south (South Valley Freeway) – Los AngelesContinuation beyond CR G10 (Blossom Hill Road)
R28.61378 To SR 82 / Blossom Hill Road (CR G10), Silver Creek Valley Road
30.10380Hellyer Avenue
31.00381Yerba Buena RoadExit was separated northbound in 2014
31.70382Capitol Expressway (CR G21)
33.03383Tully Road
34.55385AStory RoadSigned as exit 385 northbound
34.87385B I-280 north / I-680 north – San Francisco, Downtown San Jose, SacramentoSigned as exit 384 northbound; I-680 exit 1B
R35.76386A SR 130 (Alum Rock Avenue) / Santa Clara Street
R36.14386BMcKee Road, Julian Street
387Mabury Road, Taylor StreetPlanned interchange scheduled to open in late 2021
37.73388AOakland Road, 13th StreetFormer SR 238
38.30388 I-880 (Nimitz Freeway) – Oakland, Santa Cruz, Los GatosSigned as exits 388B (north) and 388C (south); I-880 exits 4B-C
38.80389AOld Bayshore Highway, 4th StreetNo southbound exit
39.29389BBrokaw Road, First StreetSigned as exit 389 southbound
San Jose39.93390 SR 87 south (Guadalupe Parkway)Southbound exit and northbound entrance; SR 87 north exit 9B
San JoseSanta Clara line40.70391Trimble Road, De la Cruz Boulevard – Santa ClaraSigned as exits 391A (Trimble Road) and 391B (De la Cruz Boulevard) southbound
Santa Clara41.98392San Tomas Expressway, Montague Expressway (CR G4)
42.73393Great America Parkway, Bowers Avenue
Sunnyvale43.85394Lawrence Expressway (CR G2)
44.83395Fair Oaks AvenueSigned as exits 395A (north) and 395B (south) southbound
45.68396A To SR 237 east / Mathilda Avenue northNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
45.68396BMathilda Avenue south – SunnyvaleSigned as exit 396A southbound; former SR 85
46.13396B SR 237 east – Alviso, MilpitasSouthbound exit and northbound entrance; SR 237 west exit 3A
46.13396C SR 237 west (Mountain View Alviso Road)Northbound exit and southbound entrance; SR 237 east exit 3A
Mountain View47.01397Ellis Street
47.89398AMoffett Boulevard, NASA ParkwaySigned as exit 398 northbound
48.10398B SR 85 south – Cupertino, Santa CruzSouthbound exit and northbound entrance; SR 85 north exit 24B
48.60399AShoreline Boulevard – Mountain ViewSigned as exit 399 southbound
48.97399BOld Middlefield WayNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
49.61400AAmphitheatre Parkway, Rengstorff AvenueSigned as exits 400A (Amphitheatre Parkway) and 400B (Rengstorff Avenue) northbound
Mountain ViewPalo Alto line50.32400CSan Antonio RoadSigned as exits 400B (north) and 400C (south) southbound
Palo Alto52.01402Oregon Expressway (CR G3), Embarcadero Road
San Mateo
SM 0.00-26.11
East Palo Alto0.89403University Avenue (to SR 109)
East Palo AltoMenlo Park line1.87404Willow Road (SR 114)Signed as exits 404A (east) and 404B (west)
Menlo Park3.59406 SR 84 east (Marsh Road) – Dumbarton BridgeSouth end of SR 84 overlap
Redwood City5.39408 SR 84 west (Woodside Road) / Seaport BoulevardNorth end of SR 84 overlap
6.62409Whipple Avenue – Redwood City
San Carlos411Brittan AvenueSouthbound exit and entrance
8.40411Holly Street, Redwood Shores Parkway – San Carlos
412Harbor BoulevardSouthbound exit and entrance
Belmont9.55412Marine Parkway, Ralston Avenue – BelmontFormer Legislative Route 214
San Mateo11.15414AHillsdale Boulevard – Foster City
11.90414B SR 92 – Hayward, San Mateo Bridge, Half Moon BaySR 92 exits 13A-B
11.90414BFashion Island BoulevardNo northbound exit
12.69415Kehoe AvenueNorthbound exit and entrance
13.464163rd AvenueFormer SR 92
14.33417ADore AvenueNorthbound exit and entrance
14.33417Poplar AvenueSouthbound exit and entrance
14.69417BPeninsula Avenue – BurlingameNorthbound exit and entrance
Burlingame419AAnza BoulevardNorthbound exit and entrance
16.58419BBroadway – Burlingame
Millbrae17.95421Millbrae Avenue – MillbraeSigned as exit 420 southbound
San Bruno19.12422 San Francisco International AirportSouthbound exit is part of exit 423A
R20.39423ASan Bruno Avenue
R20.72423B I-380 west to I-280 – San BrunoI-380 west exit 6, east exits 6A-B
South San FranciscoR20.72423CNorth Access Road (I-380 east) – North Cargo AreaSouthbound exit is part of exit 423A
21.69424South Airport Boulevard
21.92425AGrand Avenue – Downtown South San FranciscoNo southbound entrance
22.71425BOyster Point Boulevard
425CSouth San Francisco (Airport Boulevard)Southbound exit and entrance
Brisbane23.39426ABrisbane, Cow Palace (Bayshore Boulevard)Northbound exit only
23.66426BSierra Point Parkway, Marina Boulevard – BrisbaneSigned as exit 426 southbound; southbound exit and entrance are located 1.2 miles (1.9 km) north of northbound exit and entrance
City and County of San Francisco
SF 0.00-R4.24
0.03429ATunnel Avenue – Candlestick Park
0.77429BThird Street – Cow Palace
1.11429CPaul AvenueNo northbound entrance; signed as exit 430A southbound
1.77430BSilver AvenueNo northbound entrance
1.98430A I-280 north – Downtown San FranciscoNorthbound exit and southbound entrance; I-280 south exit 54
1.98431 I-280 south – Daly CityI-280 north exits 54A-B
2.00431Alemany Boulevard, Bayshore Boulevard
2.92432Cesar Chavez Street, Potrero Avenue
4.10433AVermont StreetNorthbound exit only
R4.24433B I-80 east – Bay Bridge, OaklandSigned as exit 433 southbound; I-80 exit 1A
R4.24 US 101 north (Central Freeway) – Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Civic CenterContinuation beyond I-80
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Google Maps driving directions, accessed February 2008
  2. ^ Google Maps street maps and USGS topographic maps, accessed January 2008 via ACME Mapper
  3. ^
  4. ^ California State Assembly. "An act to establish a Streets and Highways Code, thereby consolidating and revising the law relating to public ways and all appurtenances thereto, and to repeal certain acts and parts of acts specified herein". Fifty-first Session of the Legislature. Statutes of California. State of California. Ch. 29 p. 280p. 287.: "Route 68 is the Bay Shore Highway from San Francisco to San Jose. This route includes the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge and the approaches thereto on the San Francisco end..."
  5. ^ California State Assembly. "An act authorizing and directing the California highway commission to lay out and acquire a right of way or rights of way for a highway or highways from the county line of the city and county of San Francisco, in, to and through San Mateo county..." Forty-fifth Session of the Legislature. Statutes of California. State of California. Ch. 181 p. 422.: "from the county line separating the city and county of San Francisco from the county of San Mateo, in, to and through the county of San Mateo, at such location or locations as the said California highway commission may select."
  6. ^ a b c Mel Scott, The San Francisco Bay Area: A Metropolis in Perspective, University of California Press, 1959, pp. 174, 183, 209-210, 215
  7. ^ California State Assembly. "An act to provide for the establishment of a highway, to be known as the Bay Shore highway, in the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara". Forty-sixth Session of the Legislature. Statutes of California. State of California. Ch. 471 p. 1009.
  8. ^ Los Angeles Times, Desert Replaces Ocean and Mountains in Hearts of Those Who Roam in Motor Cars, October 20, 1929, p. 1
  9. ^ a b Lawrence Kinnaird, History of the Greater San Francisco Bay Region, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1966, pp. 243-245
  10. ^ Rand McNally & Company, san Francisco & Vicinity Archived March 30, 2008, at the Wayback Machine., 1933
  11. ^ The New York Times, Coolidge Opens Big Bridge, March 3, 1929, p. N4
  12. ^ Oakland Tribune, Bayshore Highway Open to Palo Alto, May 10, 1931
  13. ^ San Mateo Times, October 7, 1931: "...the Bayshore highway in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, between Redwood City and Oregon avenue, Palo Alto, was under award today..."
  14. ^ Oakland Tribune, New Link of Bay Shore Highway Open, June 19, 1932
  15. ^ Oakland Tribune, Highway Completion is Asked of State, May 30, 1933
  16. ^ Oakland Tribune, July 16, 1933: "The Bayshore Highway is also available as far south as Lawrence Station from where it is necessary to join U. S. 101..."
  17. ^ Division of Highways, San Jose, 1934
  18. ^ a b c Division of Highways, San Jose, 1944
  19. ^ Oakland Tribune, Last Bay Shore Link to Be Dedicated, June 6, 1937
  20. ^ California Department of Transportation, Dumbarton Bridge Archived February 14, 2008, at the Wayback Machine., accessed February 2008
  21. ^ Paul D. Buchanan, San Mateo Daily Journal, History traces the bayshore from highway to freeway, April 15, 2002
  22. ^ a b Matt Bowling, Palo Alto Daily News, Then and Now: The 'Bloody Bayshore', May 20, 2007 (Archived from the original on June 21, 2008)
  23. ^ United States Geological Survey, San Jose (1942) Archived July 19, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., Palo Alto (1940) Archived July 19, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., Hayward (1942) Archived July 19, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., San Mateo (1939) Archived July 19, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., and San Francisco (1942) Archived July 19, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. (scale 1:62500)
  24. ^ San Mateo Times, Camino Robbed of Auto Traffic by Plot, Claim, December 23, 1937
  25. ^ Oakland Tribune, October 1, 1939: "The Pacheco Pass road, a good connection between coast and inland routes, is reached over pavement via U.S. 101 or U.S. 101 Bypass to San Jose..."
  26. ^ H.M. Gousha Company, San Jose Archived March 30, 2008, at the Wayback Machine., 1942
  27. ^ H.M. Gousha Company, San Francisco and Vicinity Archived 2008-06-25 at the Wayback Machine., 1941
  28. ^ California State Assembly. "An act to amend section 368 of the Streets and Highways Code, relating to State highway route 68". Fifty-second Session of the Legislature. Statutes of California. State of California. Ch. 48 p. 119.: "...and includes both Harrison Street and Bryant Street from 10th Street to 5th Street in the City and County of San Francisco."
  29. ^ a b California State Assembly. "An act to amend Sections 311, 352, 368, 369, 465, 472, and 496 of, the Streets and Highways Code, relating to state highway routes". Fifty-seventh Session of the Legislature. Statutes of California. State of California. Ch. 1233 p. 2736.: "Route 68 is the Bayshore Highway from San Francisco to Route 2 near Ford Road south of San Jose."
  30. ^ California State Assembly. "An act to amend Sections 253, 305, 308, 315, 316, 323, 326, 343, 354, 366, 368, 376, 399, 414, 415, 416, 468, 512, 513, 526, 572, 582, and 587, to amend and renumber Section 559, and to repeal Section 725.5..." 1961 Session of the Legislature. Statutes of California. State of California. Ch. 1146 p. 2891p. 2892.: "Route 68 is from Route 2 near Ford Road south of San Jose to Route 5 near Oakland."
  31. ^ Division of Highways, San Francisco, 1963
  32. ^ Oakland Tribune, To Extend Bayshore, March 19, 1939
  33. ^ Oakland Tribune, April 16, 1939: "Bids will be opened at Sacramento, April 5 for two bridges on the projected extension of the Bayshore Highway to 30th and East Santa Clara Streets..."
  34. ^ Oakland Tribune, November 23, 1940: "Autos driven by Dowey and Joseph Lawrence, Evergreen rancher, collided at McKee Road and Bayshore Highway."
  35. ^ a b c d e California Department of Transportation, Index to California Highways and Public Works, 1937-1967, June 1997, pp. 104, 107, 109
  36. ^ United States Geological Survey, San Jose (scale 1:62500) Archived July 19, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., 1953
  37. ^ a b c California Department of Transportation (July 2007). "Log of Bridges on State Highways". Sacramento: California Department of Transportation.
  38. ^ Oakland Tribune, Bayshore Speed Road Discussed, July 26, 1940
  39. ^ United States Geological Survey, San Mateo (1949) Archived July 19, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., Montara Mountain (1949) Archived July 19, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., and San Francisco South (1947) (scale 1:24000)
  40. ^ California State Assembly. "Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 37—Relative to the naming of the James Lick Memorial Freeway". 1951 Session of the Legislature. Statutes of California (Resolution). State of California. Ch. 122 p. 4550.
  41. ^ MPO Productions, Freedom of the American Road, 1955
  42. ^ a b California Department of Transportation. "State Truck Route List". Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. Archived from the original (XLS file) on June 30, 2015. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
  43. ^ California Department of Transportation, All Traffic Volumes on CSHS, 2005 and 2006
  44. ^ California Department of Transportation, California Numbered Exit Uniform System, US-101 Northbound and US-101 Southbound, accessed February 2008

External links[edit]

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata