California State Route 39

Route map:
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State Route 39 marker

State Route 39

SR 39 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by Caltrans
Length50.017 mi[1] (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.
RestrictionsThe segment from north of Crystal Lake Road to its northern terminus at SR 2 is closed indefinitely to public highway traffic
Orange County section
South end SR 1 in Huntington Beach
Major intersections
North endWhittier Avenue, Harbor Boulevard in La Habra (official Caltrans designation)
Los Angeles County section
South end I-10 / CR N8 in West Covina (official Caltrans designation)
Major intersections I-210 in Azusa
North end SR 2 in Angeles National Forest
CountryUnited States
CountiesOrange, Los Angeles
Highway system
SR 38 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 public highway traffic since 1978 due to a massive mud and rockslide.

Officially, the highway is broken into pieces. Caltrans has not adopted or signed the segment between La Habra and West Covina. Caltrans has also 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 begins at SR 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) in Huntington Beach and runs north along Beach Boulevard to Whittier Boulevard in La Habra, 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. SR 39 then turns east along Whittier Boulevard to Harbor Boulevard, taking over a former segment of SR 72, while the remaining segment SR 72 remains on Whittier Boulevard west of Beach Boulevard.

The segment from the Whittier–Harbor intersection to the San Bernardino Freeway (Interstate 10) in West Covina is not officially designated by Caltrans (as indicated by an "END 39" sign at the Whittier–Harbor intersection). Under California Streets and Highways Code § 339 (d), the traversable route takes SR 39 along Harbor Boulevard north, Fullerton Road north, and then Colima Road west to Azusa Avenue in Hacienda Heights. SR 39 would then continue north on Azusa Avenue through the City of Industry to Interstate 10.[4][disputed ]

Adopted SR 39 then resumes and signs for SR 39 appear on Azusa Avenue from its junction with 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, SR 39 shields remain on this segment of the highway.

State maintenance of SR 39 begins again along San Gabriel Canyon Road at the north limit of Azusa. The highway 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 few miles of the route, including the connection to SR 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.

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.[5] A ca. 1967[6] 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,[7] and the urban portions of SR 39 are part of the National Highway System,[8] a network of highways that are considered essential to the country's economy, defense, and mobility by the Federal Highway Administration.[9] SR 39 is eligible for the State Scenic Highway System,[10] but it is not officially designated as a scenic highway by the California Department of Transportation.[11]


La Habra to West Covina connection[edit]

Although defined to be a continuous route in the California Streets and Highway Code, the segment from Whittier Boulevard in La Habra to West Covina is not officially adopted or signed by Caltrans. This is indicated at the intersection of Whittier Boulevard and Harbor Boulevard, where an "END 39" sign appears.

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 became Fullerton Road northbound from the Los Angeles/Orange County Line, through 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 under consideration to become part of SR 39 to complete the gap.

The new Harbor Boulevard was opened to the public early in 1992, and is now the primary corridor between Orange County and Rowland Heights, although the original winding Fullerton Road segment still exists as a strictly residential street.[13]

The definition of Route 39 in the California Streets and Highway Code was thus changed accordingly, and 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.[4][14] This segment however has yet to be officially designated by Caltrans.[15]

Closed northern segment to Islip Saddle[edit]

SR 39 closure in the San Gabriel Mountains
Locked gate at northern terminus of Highway 39
SR-39 closed and incomplete section is between the black circles; the ca. 1967 reconstruction is shown in blue

After the road's completion, there were frequent closures along SR 39 through the San Gabriel Valley.[16] During the winter of 1978, following a period of heavy rainfall, a rockslide damaged the northernmost 4.5-mile (7.2 km) stretch of SR 39 near Crystal Lake to the road's terminus at SR 2, at Islip Saddle. This resulted in the permanent closure of a 6.1 mi (9.8 km) portion of SR 39. In 1990, Caltrans started maintaining the damaged sections by restoring culverts and adding berms. The transit agency offered the closed portion of the road to the United States Forest Service, which would only accept it if the road was returned to a wild state, a proposition considered to be more costly than reconstruction. During the 1997–98 El Niño event, heavy rainfall caused another rockslide that damaged sections still under construction. Following a Caltrans study, which determined that the road's reopening would not harm the environment, the closed portion was reopened as a service road and emergency route in February 2003. In June 2006, California authorized funding to conduct a three-year-long environmental impact report. It was predicted that a reopened SR 39 would reduce travel time by around 50% between Mount Waterman and Pasadena, shortening the drive from about two hours to one. According to Caltrans, work could begin in 2009 on reconstruction, as well as the installation of safety features to prevent future slides from damaging the roadway.[16][17][18][19]

The environmental impact statement was completed in 2009, estimating the project's cost at $32 million (over $45 million in 2023, adjusted for inflation).[20] After the report was released, California Fish and Wildlife informed Caltrans that the road's reconstruction would negatively affect the subspecies of bighorn sheep, the Nelson's bighorn sheep, a protected species in the state. In September 2011, Caltrans canceled plans to reopen the closed portion of SR 39. By that time, the maintenance cost for that portion of the road was $1.3 million per year.[21] Thereafter, the agency tried 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 for financial reasons, even though both the USFS and the county deemed the route "essential". Abandoning the route would not be cost-effective for Caltrans due to, among other reasons, federal environmental restoration requirements related to the presence of bighorn sheep.[22] 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.[22] After lobbying from the cities of Azusa and Glendora, and support from congresswoman Grace Napolitano, Caltrans restarted plans in 2011 toward reopening the closed section of SR 39. Benefits for the project included another evacuation route for Azusa.[23] On December 15, 2022, Caltrans held a meeting to consider several proposed plans to reopen SR 39. Proposals include a full restoration, minimal restoration for emergency services, a single-lane road, or recreational use. Under the recreational use proposal, the restored route would be closed to general traffic, but would allow for hiking, biking, and other recreational activities.[24]

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 to an overlap due to a correction or change, and T indicates postmiles classified as temporary (for a full list of prefixes, see California postmile § Official postmile definitions).[1] 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) – Long Beach, Newport BeachSouthern terminus; former US 101 Alt.
Huntington BeachWestminster line5.80 I-405 (San Diego Freeway) – Long Beach, Irvine, San DiegoI-405 exit 16; former SR 7
Westminster8.48 SR 22 (Garden Grove Freeway) – Long Beach, Santa Ana, OrangeSR 22 exit 8
Anaheim12.71Lincoln AvenueFormer SR 214
AnaheimBuena Park line12.91Stanton AvenueNorth end of state maintenance
Buena Park14.38 SR 91 (Artesia Freeway) – Riverside, Artesia, Beach CitiesSR 91 exit 23B
15.07 I-5 (Santa Ana Freeway) – Los Angeles, Santa Ana, San DiegoInterchange; south end of state maintenance; I-5 exit 116; access to and from northbound I-5 via Auto Center Drive
15.08Auto Center DriveFormerly Manchester Avenue and former SR 10[27]

To I-5 north / Artesia Boulevard
Alternate southbound access to I-5 north via Artesia Boulevard west[28]
15.63Stage Road / Cascade WayStage Road was formerly SR 26
16.38La Mirada Boulevard (CR N8) / Malvern AvenueSouthern terminus of Los Angeles County Route N8
La Habra19.17
SR 90 east (Imperial Highway) – Brea, Yorba Linda
Western terminus of SR 90; Imperial Highway was former SR 90 west before being relinquished to local jurisdictions
SR 72 north (Whittier Boulevard) – Whittier
Former US 101; Whittier Boulevard was former SR 72 south before being relinquished to local jurisdictions
0[N 1]
Whittier Boulevard east / Harbor Boulevard southNorth end of Orange County segment, as adopted and signed by Caltrans;[4][disputed ] former US 101 south; former SR 72 south
Los Angeles
LA 10.70-44.40
Rowland Heights4.0[N 1]Fullerton Road north / Colima Road east[disputed ]
Hacienda HeightsCity of Industry line5.5[N 1]Colima Road west ( CR N8) / Azusa Avenue southSouth end of CR N8 overlap
City of Industry5.9[N 1] SR 60 (Pomona Freeway) – Los Angeles, PomonaSR 60 exit 18
6.8[N 1]Chestnut StreetInterchange; northbound exit and entrance only
6.9[N 1]Valley BoulevardInterchange; access via connector roads
South San Jose HillsValinda
West Covina tripoint
8.1[N 1]Temple AvenueNorth end of state control, as defined by Streets and Highways Code § 339 (d)[4]
West Covina11.5[N 1]
CR N8 endsSouth end of Los Angeles County segment, as adopted and signed by Caltrans;[4][disputed ]; north end of CR N8 overlap; I-10 exit 36; former US 99
I-10 (San Bernardino Freeway) – Los Angeles, San Bernardino
Azusa14.05 I-210 (Foothill Freeway) – Pasadena, San BernardinoI-210 exit 40
17.81Bridge over San Gabriel River
South end of state maintenance
39.90Northbound road closure gate
Islip Saddle44.40 SR 2 (Angeles Crest Highway) – La Cañada Flintridge, WrightwoodClosed; northern terminus
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Indicates that the mileage represents the distance along the traversable route under California Streets and Highways Code § 339 (d) that Caltrans has not yet officially adopted.[disputed ]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ "California Highways ( Routes 33 through 40". Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  3. ^ "Route 39 and Caltrans" (PDF). Retrieved May 20, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e "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.
  5. ^ "The Convict Road". Archived from the original on January 17, 2011. Retrieved April 15, 2010.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ "Article 2 of Chapter 2 of Division 1". California Streets and Highways Code. Sacramento: California Office of Legislative Counsel. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ "Article 2.5 of Chapter 2 of Division 1". California Streets & Highways Code. Sacramento: California Office of Legislative Counsel. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  11. ^ California Department of Transportation (August 2019). "Officially Designated State Scenic Highways and Historic Parkways" (XLSX). Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 15, 2017.
  12. ^ "Map of Los Angeles and Vicinity, 1939".
  13. ^ "California @ AARoads - California 60 East - Interstate 605 to California 57 north". AARoads. Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  14. ^ a b Google (April 16, 2021). "Driving directions from Whittier Blvd to I-10, via Harbor Blvd and Azusa Ave" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved April 16, 2021.
  15. ^ "California Highways ( Route 39". Retrieved April 16, 2021.
  16. ^ a b Steve Scauzillo (October 15, 2017). "Closed by a slide nearly 40 years ago, when will a gap in a San Gabriel Mountains highway reopen?". San Gabriel Valley Tribune. Retrieved January 30, 2024.
  17. ^ "San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Transportation Workshop" (PDF). National Forest Foundation. April 27, 2016.
  18. ^ Marianne Love (June 10, 2006). "Report to assess status of forest's Highway 39". Press-Telegram. Long Beach, California. Retrieved January 30, 2024.
  19. ^ Gish, Judy (October 2008). "Highway 39: Caltrans vs. Mother Nature". Inside Seven. Caltrans. Archived from the original on March 24, 2017.
  20. ^ "Inflation Calculator | Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  21. ^ Steve Scauzillo (December 28, 2011). [Caltrans wants to shed responsibilities for Highway 39 "Closed by a slide nearly 40 years ago, when will a gap in a San Gabriel Mountains highway reopen?"]. San Gabriel Valley Tribune. Retrieved January 30, 2024. {{cite news}}: Check |url= value (help)
  22. ^ a b Sahagun, Louis (January 29, 2012). "Walking away from a highway". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
  23. ^ Steve Scauzillo (October 17, 2016). [Caltrans wants to shed responsibilities for Highway 39 "Caltrans considering a new plan to reopen Highway 39 all the way to Wrightwood"]. Retrieved January 30, 2024. {{cite news}}: Check |url= value (help)
  24. ^ "SR-39 Reopening Project". Caltrans. n.d. Archived from the original on December 19, 2022.
  25. ^ California Department of Transportation, All Traffic Volumes on CSHS Archived July 21, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, 2006
  26. ^ 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)
  27. ^ Pak, Ellyn (October 8, 2005). "New street name isnt up their alley". Orange County Register. Retrieved June 18, 2022.
  28. ^ "Beach Blvd - Buena Park, California". Google Street View. Google. March 2021. Retrieved July 24, 2021.

External links[edit]

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