California State Route 125
SR 125 highlighted in red
|Defined by Streets and Highways Code § 425|
|Maintained by Caltrans and SANDAG|
|Length:||23.839 mi (38.365 km)|
|South end:||Otay Mesa Road in Otay Mesa|
|North end:||SR 52 in Santee|
State Route 125 (SR 125) is a state highway in the US state of California. As a freeway, it runs from Otay Mesa Road (former SR 905) in Otay Mesa near the U.S.–Mexico border to SR 52 in Santee. SR 125 serves as an additional north–south route in the San Diego metropolitan area. The definition of the route continues to SR 56, but this portion has not been constructed, and there are no plans to do so.
The southern portion of SR 125 from Otay Mesa Road to SR 54 near Chula Vista is a toll road called the South Bay Expressway (SBX). The toll road was funded by the private company California Transportation Ventures, Inc. and the following public agencies: the United States Department of Transportation, Caltrans, San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), and the City of Chula Vista. However, California Transportation Ventures declared bankruptcy in 2010 and sold the road to the San Diego Association of Governments.
SR 125 begins as the South Bay Expressway toll road at an interchange with Otay Mesa Road, the former alignment of SR 905. The route heads north, encountering its first toll plaza just before entering the city of Chula Vista. The freeway cuts through the Eastlake neighborhood of Chula Vista before leaving the city and passing through Sweetwater Regional Park near Sweetwater Reservoir. SR 125 intersects with SR 54, where the tolled portion ends, before turning north again through the unincorporated area of La Presa. The freeway briefly enters Lemon Grove before intersecting with SR 94 and entering La Mesa.
SR 125 interchanges with Interstate 8 (I-8) before continuing north through the city of El Cajon and passing near Grossmont College. The freeway continues into Santee, where the route terminates at the SR 52 interchange. Traffic can continue onto SR 52 or onto Mission Gorge Road at the terminus.
SR 125 is part of the California Freeway and Expressway System, and south of I-8 is part of the National Highway System, a network of highways that are essential to the country's economy, defense, and mobility. The route is eligible for the State Scenic Highway System, but it is only a scenic highway from SR 94 to I-8 as designated by Caltrans, meaning that it is a substantial section of highway passing through a "memorable landscape" with no "visual intrusions", where the potential designation has gained popular favor with the community; In 2013, SR 125 had an annual average daily traffic (AADT) of 29,000 at the northern terminus, and 161,000 between SR 94 and Lemon Avenue, the latter of which was the highest AADT for the highway.
Added to the state highway system in 1933, and defined in 1935, Route 198 extended from US 80 onto La Mesa Boulevard and Palm Avenue to SR 94 by 1938. In 1947, the San Diego County Highway Development Association requested that the highway from Sixth Avenue in Mission Valley to US 80 be constructed as a freeway. Although sate senator Fred Kraft criticized the proposal in July 1953 because he believed that it would be too expensive and would not reduce congestion in the long-term, especially around the junction with US 80 in Grossmont, approval for the Route 94 freeway extended to the junction with U.S. Route 80 (US 80) by October, with the Grossmont part of the route signed as Route 67. The Route 67 freeway was completed in March 1957, from Campo Road and Route 94 to US 80; the project was completed for $1,625,000.
Route 282 was defined as a route from Brown Field through La Mesa extending to Route 277 in 1959, and in 1961 the latter terminus was changed to Route 278. The California Highway Commission selected a route for the highway in mid-1963. In the 1964 state highway renumbering, SR 125 was designated as the highway from SR 75 near Brown Field to SR 56. Route 198 was renumbered as State Route 67; the portion south of I-8 was renumbered as SR 125.
At the beginning of that year, the La Mesa City Council expressed their preference for Route 282, which had been nicknamed the Ramona Freeway, to run on the routing of Fletcher Parkway, contrary to local businesses that wanted the highway to be routed 0.25 miles (0.40 km) west of the parkway. A few months later, state engineer Jacob Dekema indicated that there were four routes under consideration for the portion from Brown Field to Sweetwater Lake, and the project would not be completed until well after 1972. The state had selected a route for that part of the highway by June, and for the routing west of Fletcher Parkway extending to Mission Gorge Road by July. The next year, the California Highway Commission approved a routing north of Mission Gorge Road into Poway and ending at SR 56.
In the 1970s, planning continued for the construction of the route, as well as modifications to the existing roadway. The City of La Mesa began discussions regarding adding SR 125 from SR 94 to I-8 into the scenic highway system in 1968; the county Planning Commission continued pursuing these plans in 1970. SR 125 was lengthened by the Legislature to extend to the border in 1972.
In 1973, then-governor Ronald Reagan vetoed a bill to delete part of SR 125 from state plans, over concerns that not enough transportation studies had been done on the matter. An improved interchange with SR 94 was being planned the next year. Soon after, Caltrans raised concerns about the remainder of SR 125 not being constructed, due to objections from the community relating to freeway construction in general. Construction began on the SR 94 interchange in October, and continued into late 1975, at a cost of $11 million (about $74 million in 2013 dollars). Parts of the interchange with SR 94 were open by July 20. The City of Chula Vista considered SR 125 as possibly having scenic value when constructed, and considered asking the state to add it to the state highway system; this influenced a rule that construction projects near possible scenic routes in the city had to take natural aesthetics into account. The La Mesa City Council asked the state to modify the interchange with I-8 in July; the original interchange did not allow for access to SR 125 from I-8 east or to I-8 west from SR 125.
In January of the following year, state Assemblyman Wadie Deddeh proposed legislation to remove the southern portion of SR 125 from the state highway plans again. Soon afterward, the Comprehensive Planning Organization (CPO) moved to support retaining SR 125 from Poway to Santee in the county transportation plan, despite opposition from a county supervisor and the mayor of Escondido. Deddeh's bill passed the state Assembly Transportation Committee a month later; in the meeting, Deddeh noted the construction of I-805 to handle the traffic demands of the region, as well as a lack of funding that would result in the construction being delayed for at least 20 years. Despite a petition from the mayor of Escondido, the CPO again declined to remove SR 125 from the county transportation plan in March.
The new interchange with SR 94 was completed in July 1976. In August, the CHC announced that SR 75 south of SR 54 had been removed from the state highway plan. The next year, the county supervisor, a San Diego City councilman, and the mayors of La Mesa and National City wrote a letter to then-Governor Jerry Brown to ask for the construction of this portion of SR 125 and other freeways, due to concerns about the types of congestion seen in Los Angeles coming to San Diego due to the incomplete freeway system. San Diego City Councilman Tom Gade wrote a telegram to the Caltrans Director Adriana Gianturco about the possible deletions; in response, Gianturco clarified that the plans were only being reconsidered and had not been removed, and a CHC member criticized the tone of the original telegram, calling it "intemperate".
In March 1980, the CPO approved the funding for the redesign of the interchange with I-8. By early 1980, SR 125 was denoted with signs saying "To 94" at Grossmont Summit; plans were to provide access north to Fletcher Parkway in the revamp of the interchange. On December 30, 1980, the City of Poway included SR 56 in the city plan extending east through the city to a northern extension of SR 125.
By 1981, the environmental impact report had been completed on the proposed changes to the I-8 intersection, and the $50 million (about $190 million in 2013 dollars) project to add ramps and widen I-8 was awaiting clearance from the Federal Highway Administration. In 1983, both the cities of San Diego and Poway supported the extension of SR 56 to SR 67, although the City of Poway wanted the route moved and had reservations about the freeway ending in the city.
In 1986, the project revamping the I-8 interchange was under way, at a cost of $80 million (about $222 million in 2013 dollars); it would allow for SR 125 to be extended north past I-8. That year, SR 125 was truncated to begin at SR 905, as the latter was formed as a route from I-5 to the border.
The northernmost portion of the current SR 125 was built in stages. The portion from Fletcher Parkway to Amaya Drive was finished at the beginning of 2001, with a segment at Navajo Road to open later that year. After weather-related construction delays due to the El Niño season of the winter of 1997–1998, the extension of SR 52 between Mission Gorge Road and SR 125 was dedicated on May 9, 1998. The northernmost portion (north of Grossmont College Drive) was completed to SR 52 and Mission Gorge Road while the portion south of Grossmont College Drive. This section was completed by 2004.
The first phase of the construction of the eastern portion of the SR 54 freeway corresponded with construction of SR 125 north of Jamacha Boulevard to SR 94; construction began in 1996 and was completed in 2003.
The second phase consisted of the construction of the SR 125 toll road and opened on November 19, 2007. While California Transportation Ventures owned the franchise on the tolled portion of SR 125, the interchange with SR 54 was constructed with $160 million of public funding. From 2005 to 2007, 1.5 million cubic meters of rock were blasted through in 160 separate explosions to allow for the interchange to be built. The South Bay Expressway extended SR 125 southward from SR 54 to Otay Mesa. Construction of this portion was opposed by community and environmental groups. This toll road was one of four privately financed toll highway projects, including the 91 Express Toll Lanes, that were approved in 1990.
On March 22, 2010, the toll road's operator filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing traffic counts running at less than 40% of initial estimates due to the economic downturn. At the time of the filing, the expressway had $510 million of loans outstanding, of which $170 million was owed to the U.S. Department of Transportation. In addition, according to the filing, there was over $600 million of unresolved litigation with the construction contractors. EBITDA for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009 was approximately $3 million on revenues of $21 million. On July 29, 2011, SANDAG agreed to purchase the lease of the freeway from toll road operator, South Bay Expressway LLC; the sale was finalized on December 16, 2011. SANDAG claimed at the time that they would reduce the tolls to attract increased use. Due to toll reductions that were 25 to 40 percent less than their pre-public owned amounts, the number of vehicles using the toll portion of the expressway have increased by 19 percent as compared to the previous year.
Toll plazas are located along the South Bay Expressway at all northbound onramps and southbound offramps; there is also a mainline Otay Mesa Toll Plaza at the southern end of the facility just north of Otay Mesa Road. The toll road is equipped with the FasTrak electronic toll collection system, with drivers being charged a prorated toll based on the distance traveled. Patrons paying by cash or credit card are charged a more expensive flat rate depending on which toll booth they pass through, using a barrier toll system, as opposed to a ticket system. For example, any cash- or credit-paying driver that passes through the Otay Mesa Toll Plaza ends up paying $3.50 regardless of the distance they actually traveled.
The following table lists the toll rates for passenger cars, both with and without FasTrak (as of June 12, 2012). The toll rate is doubled for vehicles with more than two axles.
|Southern end of trip||Northern end of trip||Fastrak||Cash/Credit|
|Otay Mesa Road||SR 54||$2.75||$3.50|
|East H Street||$2.00||$3.50|
|Birch Road, Olympic Parkway, or Otay Lakes Road||$1.95||$3.50|
|Between Birch Road and East H Street||$0.50||$2.50|
|Birch Road, Olympic Parkway, Otay Lakes Road, or East H Street||SR 54||$1.70||$2.50|
|San Miguel Ranch Road||$1.55||$2.00|
The proposal to extend SR 125 north into Poway was discussed as late as 2003 by a local advisory group working with the San Diego Association of Governments. However, none of these proposals to extend SR 125 have been included in SANDAG's 2050 Regional Transportation Plan.
Previously, SR 905 had a direct connection with SR 125 via two at-grade intersections on Otay Mesa Road. With the completion of the newest freeway segment of SR 905 and the freeway-to-freeway connection to SR 125 unconstructed, traffic on SR 905 must exit at La Media Road (exit 7), head north on La Media and head east on Otay Mesa Road to make the connection. A freeway-to-freeway interchange is planned for the connection between SR 125 and SR 905, and an additional interchange is planned for Heritage Road; there are also plans to connect to the new SR 11 freeway once it is constructed. SR 11 is planned to be a toll facility that will serve a new border crossing east of Otay Mesa.
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). Segments that remain unconstructed or have been relinquished to local control may be omitted. The entire route is in San Diego County.
|L0.50||1||Otay Mesa Road to SR 905||Southbound exit and northbound entrance; south end of SR 125|
|San Diego||Otay Mesa Toll Plaza|
|Chula Vista||2.29||5||Birch Road|
|4.04||7||Otay Lakes Road|
|5.08||8||East H Street|
|6.93||9||San Miguel Ranch Road, Mt. Miguel Road||Southbound exit and northbound entrance|
|North end of toll road|
|9.59||11||SR 54 west (South Bay Freeway)|
|9.90||12||Jamacha Boulevard, Paradise Valley Road (CR S17)|
|Lemon Grove||12.97||15||SR 94 (Martin Luther King Jr. Freeway)||Southbound exit to SR 94 east is via exit 17A|
|13.50||17A||Spring Street – La Mesa||Northbound exit is via exit 15|
|La Mesa||14.74||17A||Lemon Avenue||Northbound exit and southbound entrance|
|El Cajon||19.53||20A||Navajo Road|
|20.39||20B||Grossmont College Drive|
|Santee||22.17||21||SR 52 – San Diego, Santee||Northbound exit and southbound entrance; north end of SR 125|
|22.30||Mission Gorge Road||At-grade intersection|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
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Route map: Bing
- California @ AARoads.com – State Route 125
- Caltrans: Route 125 highway conditions
- California Highways: Route 125
- South Bay Expressway: Toll Road SR 125 south of SR 54 to SR 905
- Federal Highway Administration Project Profiles: South Bay Expressway