California State Route 39

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State Route 39 marker

State Route 39
SR 39 highlighted in red
Route information
Defined by Streets and Highways Code § 339
Maintained by Caltrans
Length50.017 mi[2] (80.495 km)
SR 39 is broken into pieces due to an unconstructed portion, and the length does not reflect the gap. Also, portions of SR 39 have been relinquished to or are otherwise maintained by local or other governments, and are not included in the length.
Section 1
South end SR 1 in Huntington Beach
North endWhittier Avenue, Harbor Boulevard in La Habra
Section 2
South end I-10 / CR N8 in West Covina
I-210 in Azusa
North end SR 2 in Angeles National Forest
CountiesOrange, Los Angeles
Highway system
California 38.svg SR 38I-40 (1957).svg I-40

State Route 39 (SR 39) is a state highway in the U.S. state of California that travels through Orange and Los Angeles counties. Its southern terminus is at Pacific Coast Highway (SR 1), in Huntington Beach. SR 39's northern terminus is at Islip Saddle on Angeles Crest Highway (SR 2) in the Angeles National Forest, but its northernmost 4.5-mile (7.2 km) segment (including the connection with SR 2) has been closed to the public since 1978 due to a massive mud and rockslide. It would cost a total of $100 million USD to repair the road.

Caltrans relinquished a portion of SR 39 in Buena Park from Stanton Avenue in Buena Park to Interstate 5 in 2013, as well as those segments within the cities of Azusa by 2010, Covina by 2010, and West Covina by 2013. Since 2001, a portion of SR 39 that runs through the city of Stanton has been considered for relinquishment to the city.[3] If so, the portion that runs through the city of Anaheim will still be state controlled.

Major places of interest along SR 39 are Knott's Berry Farm, an amusement park, Adventure City, another amusement park targeted for children, Huntington Beach, a local beach, a Medieval Times location, the Buena Park Auto Center, and the Westridge Golf Course in La Habra.

Route description[edit]

SR 39 closure in the San Gabriel Mountains
Locked gate at northern terminus of Highway 39

Although defined to be a continuous route in the California Streets and Highway Code, there is a gap in the adopted State Route 39 maintained by Caltrans (see also the Future section below).

The southern portion of State Route 39 runs along Beach Boulevard, with the exception of the segment between the southern city limit of Buena Park and Interstate 5, which was relinquished to the city in 2013. At Beach Boulevard's northerly terminus at Whittier Boulevard in La Habra, State Route 39 turns east to run to the intersection of Whittier Boulevard and Harbor Boulevard, taking over a former segment of Route 72, while the remaining segment Route 72 remains on Whittier Boulevard west of Beach Boulevard. An "END 39" sign then appears at the intersection of Whittier and Harbor, marking the northern terminus of the southern portion of the adopted Route 39.

Adopted Route 39 then resumes and signs for Route 39 appear on Azusa Avenue from its junction with the San Bernardino Freeway (Interstate 10) in West Covina, and through Covina to First Street in the city of Azusa just north of Interstate 210. The route then runs as a couplet (composed of two one-way streets), with northbound traffic on Azusa Avenue, and southbound traffic on San Gabriel Avenue, to Sierra Madre Avenue where the two one-way streets converge to form San Gabriel Canyon Road. Although relinquished in the cities of West Covina, Covina, and Azusa, California Route 39 shields remain on this segment of the highway to aid motorists wishing to continue on Route 39.

Map of the closed and incomplete section; the ca. 1967 reconstruction is shown in blue

State maintenance of Route 39 begins again along San Gabriel Canyon Road at the north limit of Azusa. Route 39 winds through the San Gabriel Mountains in the Angeles National Forest for 22.6 miles (36.4 km) until it reaches a gate barring the road 0.25 miles (0.40 km) north of Crystal Lake Road in the Crystal Lake Recreation Area. The last six miles of the route, including the connection to Route 2, are closed to public highway traffic, as the roadbed has been closed since 1978, due to major rock slides that year and again in 2005 which damaged more of the remaining roadbed. Although Google Maps and other mapping services may list this section of the road as an "available" route to connect to Route 2, this section actually remains closed.

A replacement of the section north of East Fork Road, in the next canyon to the east, was partly built in 1936 and 1961, but was never completed. The section includes one bridge and two tunnels; it was never used by automobile or truck traffic. In one local hiking guide the section is identified as the "Road to Nowhere" and the "Convict Road", although the official name is the Shoemaker Road and was planned to be an escape route in times of nuclear warfare.[4] A ca. 1967[5] replacement, much closer to the existing alignment, was also stopped prematurely, and so the middle of the segment between East Fork Road and the closure gate, with its many hairpin curves, still exists.

SR 39 is part of the California Freeway and Expressway System,[6] and the urban portions of SR 39 are part of the National Highway System,[7] a network of highways that are considered essential to the country's economy, defense, and mobility by the Federal Highway Administration.[8] SR 39 is eligible for the State Scenic Highway System,[9] but it is not officially designated as a scenic highway by the California Department of Transportation.[10]


Although defined to be a continuous route, there is a break in adopted Route 39 at the intersection of Whittier Boulevard with Harbor Boulevard, where an "END 39" sign appears. Since 1992, when the Harbor Boulevard extension opened, the California Streets and Highways Code has defined the continuation of Route 39 as "via Harbor Boulevard to the vicinity of Fullerton Road, then to Azusa Avenue" through Rowland Heights. After the overlap on Beach Boulevard, Route 39 used to turn north on Hacienda Road to the junction with the I-10 and followed for a mile before separating on Azusa Avenue, but that portion has since been relinquished to Los Angeles County and Route 39 was relocated to end on Harbor Boulevard.[11]

The traversable route to fill the Route 39 gap would be via Harbor Boulevard north, Fullerton Road north, and then Colima Road west to Azusa Avenue in Hacienda Heights. Route 39 would then continue north on Azusa Avenue through the City of Industry to Interstate 10 in West Covina.


Prior to the present before reaching Harbor Boulevard, SR 39 continued north from Whittier Boulevard along Hacienda Road to the Los Angeles/Orange County line then north on Hacienda Boulevard and Glendora Avenue to US 60, 70, and 99 (Garvey Avenue, now Interstate 10) in West Covina.[12] It then continued east with US 60, 70, and 99 to Azusa Avenue where it turned north to follow the present alignment as described beginning in the fourth paragraph of the preceding section. The Hacienda Glendora segment can still be seen as Route 39 on some maps.

Prior to 1991, Harbor Boulevard would become Fullerton Road heading northward at the Los Angeles/Orange County Line, and would continue north as Fullerton Road though the Puente Hills as a one-lane winding road into Rowland Heights. However, due to complaints of nearby residents due to the increased volume of traffic, a straighter, wider stub was built slightly to the east, and was named Harbor Boulevard. This route is in consideration to become part of SR 39 to complete the gap.

The new Harbor Boulevard became opened to the public early in 1992 and now serves as the primary passage between Orange County and Rowland Heights. The original winding Fullerton Road segment still exists but no longer serves as the primary passage. It is now strictly a residential street.

On July 10, 2006, the Pasadena Star-News reported that the state provided funding for an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) in June 2006 to assess the feasibility of reopening Highway 39 in the Angeles National Forest.

A 4.5-mile (7.2 km) stretch of the road, from Snow Springs north of Azusa to Highway 2, has been closed to the public since 1978 due to a massive mud and rockslide. While the road is passable to emergency vehicles for the entire closed length, sections near reoccurring rock slides become narrow dirt roads which are not suitable for passenger vehicles. The EIR will take three years to complete, according to California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) officials.

The highway was opened to emergency crews in February 2003 after a Caltrans study showed reopening it would not harm wetlands, air and water quality, natural vegetation or threatened plants and animals.

According to the Caltrans District Seven "Inside Seven" newsletter, work was to continue through 2009 and 2010 on reconstruction and installation of features to prevent future slides from damaging the roadway:

"Two projects that will address those issues and get the highway reopened are scheduled for construction soon. The first, building two retaining walls near the city of Azusa from Old San Gabriel Canyon Road to approximately four miles south of SR-2, could begin in mid-2009. The second, a $45 million project to reconstruct the roadway, construct soldier pile retaining walls, repair drainage systems, install rock fall protection, and provide asphalt concrete overlay and traffic striping, should begin in fall 2010."[13]

However, due to budgetary issues, by 2012 Caltrans was instead trying to transfer responsibility for the entirety of SR 39 north of postmile LA 17.81 (including the closed section) to either the U.S. Forest Service or Los Angeles County, both of which declined, also for financial reasons, even though both the USFS and the county deem the route "essential". Abandoning the route would also not be cost-effective for Caltrans due, among other reasons, to federal environmental restoration requirements related to the presence of bighorn sheep.[14] The proposal was abandoned after opposition by local residents and the county, as well as substantial legal pressure by the Forest Service, who threatened to enforce an old contract that requires Caltrans to completely deconstruct the highway should it refuse to maintain it.[14] There are proposals to move the closed gate north two miles to a popular trailhead.[citation needed]

People heading to Mount Waterman must currently travel west to Pasadena and join the Angeles Crest Highway (Highway 2) in La Cañada Flintridge - a nearly two-hour trip. Reopening Highway 39 would cut the drive-time to the Waterman ski area in half and shorten the trip east to Wrightwood.

Major intersections[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).[2] 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.

ORA 0.00-17.26, 18.44-22.66
Huntington Beach0.00 SR 1 (Pacific Coast Highway)Southern terminus; former US 101 Alt.
Huntington BeachWestminster line5.80 I-405 (San Diego Freeway) – San Diego, Long BeachI-405 exit 16; former SR 7
Westminster8.48 SR 22 (Garden Grove Freeway) – Long Beach, OrangeSR 22 exit 8
Buena Park12.91Stanton AvenueNorth end of state maintenance
14.38 SR 91 (Artesia Freeway) – Riverside, Beach CitiesSR 91 exit 23B
15.07 I-5 (Santa Ana Freeway) – Los Angeles, Santa AnaInterchange; south end of state maintenance; I-5 exit 116
La Habra19.17 SR 90 east (Imperial Highway)Western terminus of SR 90; Imperial Hwy. was former SR 90 west before being relinquished to local jurisdictions
20.72 SR 72 north (Whittier Boulevard)Former US 101; Whittier Blvd. was former SR 72 south before being relinquished to local jurisdictions
22.66Harbor Boulevard southCaltrans signs this as north end of Orange County segment; former US 101 south; former SR 72 south; SR 39 north follows Harbor Blvd. north into Los Angeles County and onto Fullerton Boulevard north, then turns west onto Colima Road, per the California Streets and Highways Code[17]
Los Angeles
LA 10.70-44.40
City of Industry SR 60 (Pomona Freeway) – Los Angeles, PomonaSR 60 exit 18; SR 39 south follows Azuza Avenue south to Colima Road, where it turns east, per the California Streets and Highways Code[17]
Chestnut StreetInterchange; northbound exit and entrance only
Valley BoulevardInterchange; access via connector roads
South San Jose HillsValinda
West Covina tripoint
North end of state maintenance[17]
West Covina10.71 I-10 (San Bernardino Freeway) – Los Angeles, San BernardinoCaltrans signs this as south end of Los Angeles County segment; I-10 exit 36; former US 99
Azusa14.05 I-210 (Foothill Freeway) – Pasadena, San BernardinoI-210 exit 40
17.81Bridge over San Gabriel River
South end of state maintenance
39.90Gate (closed north of here)
Islip Saddle44.40 SR 2 (Angeles Crest Highway)Closed; northern terminus
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "California Highways ( Routes 33 through 40". Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b c 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.
  3. ^ "Route 39 and Caltrans" (PDF). Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-01-17. Retrieved 2010-04-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b "California Log of Bridges on State Highways: District 7" (PDF). Caltrans. California Department of Transportation. January 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 24, 2011. Retrieved September 20, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "Article 2 of Chapter 2 of Division 1". California Streets and Highways Code. Sacramento: California Office of Legislative Counsel. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  7. ^ Federal Highway Administration (March 25, 2015). National Highway System: Los Angeles, CA (PDF) (Map). Scale not given. Washington, DC: Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved October 15, 2017.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "Article 2.5 of Chapter 2 of Division 1". California Streets & Highways Code. Sacramento: California Office of Legislative Counsel. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  10. ^ California Department of Transportation (August 2019). "Officially Designated State Scenic Highways and Historic Parkways" (XLSX). Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 15, 2017.
  11. ^ "California @ AARoads - California 60 East - Interstate 605 to California 57 north". Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  12. ^ "Map of Los Angeles and Vicinity, 1939".
  13. ^ (source)
  14. ^ a b Sahagun, Louis (January 29, 2012). "Walking away from a highway". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
  15. ^ California Department of Transportation, All Traffic Volumes on CSHS Archived July 21, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, 2006
  16. ^ California Department of Transportation, All Traffic Volumes on CSHS Archived July 21, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, 1996 (the last year before it was updated to remove the relinquished part)
  17. ^ a b c "An act to amend Section 14556.40 of, and to repeal Section 14529.15 of, the Government Code, to amend Sections 21669.6, 24908, 29034.7, 29035.5, 99221, 99313.1, 99633, and 132820 of, and to repeal Section 132352.6 of, the Public Utilities Code, to amend Sections 149.5, 301, 302, 319, 339, 358, 371, 372, 374, 379, 383, 384, 411, 444, 451, 460, 464, 470, 560, 30914, and 30914.5 of, to add Section 575 to, and to repeal Section 301.5 of, the Streets and Highways Code, and to amend Sections 2800, 5201, 14611, 21754, 21755, 22452, 22511.55, 24400, 26100, 26101, 26505, 29004, 34518, and 40802 of, and to add Section 667 to, the Vehicle Code, relating to transportation.". Chapter 491, Section No. 17 of 2010. California State Legislature.

External links[edit]

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata