California State Route 163

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State Route 163 marker

State Route 163
Cabrillo Freeway
SR 163 highlighted in red
Route information
Defined by Streets and Highways Code § 463
Maintained by Caltrans
Length 11.088 mi[1] (17.844 km)
History 1948 as US 395, 1969 as SR 163
Major junctions
South end A Street and Ash Street in San Diego
North end I-15 in San Diego
Counties San Diego
Highway system
SR 162SR 164

State Route 163 (SR 163), also known as the Cabrillo Freeway, is a state highway in San Diego, California. The 11.088-mile (17.844 km) stretch of freeway runs from Downtown San Diego just south of an interchange with Interstate 5 (I-5), extending north through historic Balboa Park and various neighborhoods of San Diego to an interchange with I-15 in the neighborhood of Miramar. The freeway is named after Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, the first European to navigate the coast of present-day California.

The historic section of freeway through Balboa Park south of I-8 was the first freeway in San Diego County and one of the first in California.[2] Prior to 1964, this was the southernmost section of U.S. Route 395 (US 395), which was truncated to Hesperia when it was replaced by I-15. This section is also designated as a State Scenic Highway.

Route description[edit]

The Cabrillo Freeway leading into Downtown San Diego

SR 163 begins in downtown San Diego at an at-grade intersection with A Street and Ash Street. Shortly after, the freeway has an interchange with I-5 before entering Balboa Park. This 2.5-mile (4.0 km) section of SR 163 is built to parkway standards, featuring a wide, grassy median with trees, four through traffic lanes, and several very sharp curves, also passing under the Cabrillo Bridge. Shortly after leaving Balboa Park, SR 163 has an interchange with I-8 in Mission Valley. North of this interchange, SR 163 becomes a modern, Interstate-standard, eight-lane freeway. Continuing north, the freeway climbs uphill from Mission Valley to Linda Vista, where it has a partial interchange with I-805; traffic northbound on one freeway can only transfer only onto northbound of the other and southbound traffic can only transfer onto southbound direction of the other freeway. In Kearny Mesa, the freeway has a partial interchange with SR 52; one of the biggest bottlenecks in San Diego County. The freeway then heads north to and merges with I-15 near Miramar, where the southern terminus of the reversible lanes of I-15 are located. Ramps were built to allow traffic on SR 163 to enter and exit the express lanes of I-15.[3]

SR 163 is part of the California Freeway and Expressway System[4] and is part of the National Highway System,[5] a network of highways that are considered essential to the country's economy, defense, and mobility by the Federal Highway Administration.[6] SR 163 is eligible to be included in the State Scenic Highway System,[7] and is designated as a scenic highway in Balboa Park by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans),[8] 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.[9]


The southernmost portion of the highway, running through Balboa Park, began construction in 1942 and opened in 1948 as part of US 395; it was the first freeway in San Diego County and one of the first in California.[10] The Cabrillo Freeway was also part of US 80 from the late 1940s until 1964.[11] This stretch of road has been called one of America's most beautiful parkways,[12] and was designated a California Historic Parkway in 2002.[13]

There were previously southbound entrances at Quince and Richmond Streets, but these have been closed. The single-lane bridge at Richmond Street which allowed this entrance still exists but is closed to traffic, and the remainder of the ramp has been demolished.[citation needed]

On May 17, 1995, Shawn Nelson, a US Army soldier and plumber, stole a tank from the National Guard and drove it outside the base and onto the highway. After the tank got stuck in the median, he was shot and killed by police.[14]

Exit list[edit]

The entire route is in San Diego, San Diego County.

0.000.0010th AvenueContinuation beyond Ash Street; south end of SR 163; northbound entrance only accessible from 11th Avenue and A Street
0.060.0971AAsh StreetNo exit number northbound; northbound exit only accessible from A Street
0.060.0971A I-5 north (San Diego Freeway) / 4th Avenue – Los AngelesSouthbound exit is part of exit 1B; I-5 exit 16 southbound
0.360.581B I-5 south (San Diego Freeway) / Park BoulevardSouthbound exit and northbound entrance; I-5 exit 16A northbound
0.360.581BQuince Street – Balboa ParkNorthbound exit only
1.272.041CRichmond Street – San Diego Zoo, MuseumsNorthbound exit only
2.223.572ARobinson AvenueNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
2.223.572AWashington Street east (I-8 Bus.)Signed as exit 2B northbound
2.223.572BWashington Street west (I-8 Bus.)No northbound exit
2.453.942CUniversity AvenueNo northbound exit
3.215.173 I-8 / Hotel Circle – El Centro, BeachesSigned as exits 3A (east) and 3B (west); I-8 exits 4A-B westbound, 4B-C eastbound
3.846.184Friars RoadNorthbound exit is part of exit 3B
5.268.475Genesee AvenueSigned as exits 5A (east) and 5B (west) northbound
6.019.676Mesa College Drive, Kearny Villa RoadNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
6.5110.487A I-805 north (Jacob Dekema Freeway) – Los AngelesNorthbound exit and southbound entrance; I-805 exit 20 southbound
6.5110.487A I-805 south (Jacob Dekema Freeway)Southbound exit and northbound entrance; I-805 exit 20B northbound
7.4812.047BBalboa AvenueFormer SR 274
8.2813.338Clairemont Mesa Boulevard
9.0214.529A SR 52 eastNorthbound exit and southbound entrance; SR 52 exit 6
9.0214.529B SR 52 westSigned as exit 9 southbound; no northbound entrance; SR 52 exit 6
10.3116.5910Kearny Villa RoadFormer US 395
I-15 north (Express Lanes / Carpools only)Northbound exit and southbound entrance
11.2318.07 I-15 north (Escondido Freeway) – EscondidoNorthbound exit and southbound entrance; north end of SR 163; I-15 exit 12 southbound
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ Marshall, David (2007). San Diego's Balboa Park. Arcadia Publishing. p. 110. ISBN 978-0-7385-4754-1. 
  3. ^ "State Route 163 Transportation Concept Summary" (PDF). California Department of Transportation. Retrieved August 18, 2016. 
  4. ^ California State Legislature. "Section 250–257". Streets and Highways Code. Sacramento: California State Legislature. Retrieved June 9, 2017. 
  5. ^ Federal Highway Administration (March 25, 2015). National Highway System: San Diego, CA (PDF) (Map). Scale not given. Washington, DC: Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved September 22, 2017. 
  6. ^ Natzke, Stefan; Neathery, Mike & Adderly, Kevin (June 20, 2012). "What is the National Highway System?". National Highway System. Washington, DC: Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved July 1, 2012. 
  7. ^ California State Legislature. "Section 260–284". Streets and Highways Code. Sacramento: California State Legislature. Retrieved June 9, 2017. 
  8. ^ California Department of Transportation (September 7, 2011). "Officially Designated State Scenic Highways and Historic Parkways". Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. Retrieved September 22, 2017. 
  9. ^ California Department of Transportation (2012). Scenic Highway Guidelines (PDF). Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. p. 5. Retrieved June 8, 2017. 
  10. ^ Marshall, David (2007). San Diego's Balboa Park. Arcadia Publishing. p. 110. ISBN 978-0-7385-4754-1. 
  11. ^ Jensen, Jeff (2013). Drive the Broadway of America!. Tucson, AZ: Bygone Byways. pp. 216–217. ISBN 9780978625900. 
  12. ^ Marshall, David (2007). San Diego's Balboa Park. Postcard History Series. Charleston, SC: Arcadia. p. 110. ISBN 9780738547541. OCLC 154662185 – via Google Books. 
  13. ^ Kehoe, Christine (November 11, 2002). "State Route 163 Gets Historic Designation". San Diego Business Journal. p. 53. 
  14. ^ "Man Killed After Stealing Tank for Rampage". The New York Times. May 19, 1995. 
  15. ^ a b Warring, KS (March 7, 2008). "State Route 163 Freeway Interchanges" (PDF). California Numbered Exit Uniform System. California Department of Transportation. Retrieved September 1, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Route map: Google

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