California State Route 46: Wikis


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State Route 46 shield
State Route 46
Defined by S&HC § 346, maintained by Caltrans
Length: 110.696 mi[1] (178.148 km)
SR 46 is broken into pieces, and the length does not reflect the US 101 overlap that would be required to make the route continuous.
History: State highway in 1916; numbered in 1964
West end: SR 1 near Cambria
US 101 in Paso Robles
SR 43 in Wasco
East end: SR 99 at Famoso
State highways in California (list - pre-1964)
< SR 45 SR 47 >
History - Unconstructed - Deleted - Freeway - Scenic

State Route 46 (SR 46) is an east–west state highway in the U.S. state of California. It is a major crossing of the Coast Ranges, connecting SR 1 on the Central Coast near Cambria and US 101 in Paso Robles with SR 99 at Famoso in the San Joaquin Valley. East of Paso Robles, where it carried U.S. Route 466 until 1964, SR 46 is part of the California Freeway and Expressway System, though it is mostly a two-lane highway. The highway from SR 1 to SR 41 near Cholame is an eligible State Scenic Highway, but has not been designated as such.

The road that is now SR 46 was built and improved during the 1920s and was fully paved by 1930. The majority of SR 46 was originally designated as U.S. Route 466; however, after the latter was entirely removed from the U.S. Highway system, the eastern portion of the route became SR 46.


Route description

State Route 46 begins at SR 1 southeast of Cambria, about one mile (2 km) from the Pacific Ocean. It heads east as the Eric Seastrand Highway across the Santa Lucia Range on a relatively straight roadway built in the 1970s, bypassing the steep, curvy Santa Rosa Creek Road. After passing near a few wineries, this first segment ends at US 101 north of Templeton, where SR 46 turns north, overlapping the US 101 freeway through the valley formed by the Salinas River to central Paso Robles. Immediately after splitting from US 101, SR 46 crosses the Salinas River, passing near the Paso Robles Municipal Airport, and then heads east through a hilly area with several wineries and the community of Whitley Gardens. It then runs partially alongside the Estrella River to a merge with SR 41 near Shandon and a rest area. There, it turns northeast, following Cholame Creek through Cholame Pass between the Cholame Hills and Temblor Range to the settlement of Cholame and the split with SR 41. After crossing into Kern County, the highway continues to rise as it heads east up the Antelope Grade to a summit near Bluestone Ridge before descending through Polonio Pass into the Antelope Valley, an arm of the San Joaquin Valley.[2][3]

The James Dean Memorial Junction, looking northeast, with SR 41 heading away from the camera

The two-lane stretch from Paso Robles to Cholame was once known as "Blood Alley" for the large number of crashes, mainly head-on collisions, among the high volume of commuters, truckers, and tourists. The east end of this portion, at the SR 41 split, is where 24-year-old James Dean died in 1955; the intersection is now marked as the James Dean Memorial Junction.[4] The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) carried out an interim safety project in December 1995, mandating daytime headlights and installing thermoplastic striping and rumble strips. Present plans are to widen the road to a four-lane divided expressway.[5][6]

Once it enters the San Joaquin Valley, SR 46, known as the Paso Robles Highway, follows an almost perfectly straight eastward alignment, crossing SR 33 at Blackwells Corner, passing through the Lost Hills Oil Field, and intersecting I-5 about two miles (3 km) past Lost Hills and the crossing of the California Aqueduct. SR 46 then passes through the Semitropic Oil Field about seven miles west of Wasco. SR 46 and SR 43 overlap for a short distance in the city of Wasco, and then SR 46 passes over Calloway Canal and Friant Canal before it ends at SR 99 in Famoso. The county-maintained Famoso Road continues east across SR 65 and into the Sierra Nevada foothills.[2][3]


As part of the second state highway bond issue, approved by the state's voters in 1916, Route 33 was created, linking the San Joaquin Valley trunk (Route 4, now SR 99) near Bakersfield with the coast trunk (Route 2, now US 101) in Paso Robles, passing through the Coast Ranges via Cholame Pass.[7][8] The road was not yet built in 1919, when the Automobile Blue Book recommended only the county-maintained "very poor road" (now SR 58) via Simmler as a connection between the valley and Central Coast.[9] By 1925, the Cholame Pass highway had been improved,[10] and paving was completed in December 1930.[11] An extension west to Route 56 (now SR 1) near Cambria was added in 1933;[12][13] however, it ran along Santa Rosa Creek Road, north of today's alignment.[14]

The state sign route system was established in 1934, but the majority of Route 33 did not receive a state route designation, instead becoming part of the new U.S. Route 466. However, US 466 turned southwest from Cholame Pass along Legislative Route 125 (modern SR 41) to Morro Bay. Sign Route 41, which followed Legislative Route 125 northeast of Cholame, continued along Route 33 west to the coast.[15][16][17][18] However, Route 125 had still not been paved between Cholame and Atascadero by the 1950s, and so US 466 was moved to the longer but better-quality Route 33 via Paso Robles, replacing SR 41 to Paso Robles and overlapping US 101 to Atascadero. As SR 41 had not been signed over the unpaved road west of Paso Robles, it was truncated to Cholame.[19] US 466 was eliminated in the 1964 renumbering, becoming SR 46 east from Paso Robles. However, instead of going south and west to Morro Bay, SR 46 continued west to Cambria, and the road via Creston and Atascadero to Morro Bay (which had since been paved) became part of SR 41.[20][21] A new two-lane expressway carrying SR 46 west from Paso Robles[22] was built in the mid-1970s, replacing Santa Rosa Creek Road.[14]

Major intersections

Note: Except where prefixed with a letter, postmiles were measured in 1964, based on the alignment as it existed at that time, and do not necessarily reflect current mileage. The numbers reset at county lines; the start and end postmiles in each county are given in the county column.
County Location Postmile
#[24] Destinations Notes
San Luis Obispo
SLO R0.15-60.85
R0.15 SR 1Cambria, Hearst Castle, Cayucos, Morro Bay
Paso Robles R21.97
101 54.12
US 101 south Interchange; west end of US 101 overlap
West end of freeway on US 101
101 55.67 229 Spring Street (US 101 Bus. north) Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
230 Pine Street Westbound exit and entrance
230 Paso Robles Street Eastbound exit only
101 56.88 231A 16th Street Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
East end of freeway on US 101
101 57.92
US 101 north / CR G14 (24th Street)  – Nacimiento Lake Interchange; east end of US 101 overlap
Shandon 48.63 SR 41 south – Shandon, Creston West end of SR 41 overlap
Cholame 55.11 SR 41 north – Fresno East end of SR 41 overlap
KER 0.00-57.79
Blackwells Corner 20.54 SR 33Coalinga, McKittrick, Taft
27.48 Brown Material Road, Halloway Road
Lost Hills 32.53 I-5 (Westside Freeway) – Sacramento, Los Angeles Interchange
43.02 Rowlee Road – Buttonwillow
Wasco 50.90 SR 43 south (F Street) – Shafter West end of SR 43 overlap
51.22 SR 43 north / J Street – Corcoran East end of SR 43 overlap
Famoso 57.79 SR 99Delano, Bakersfield Interchange


  1. ^ a b California Department of Transportation, State Truck Route List (XLS file), accessed January 2008
  2. ^ a b Thomas Brothers. California Road Atlas and Drivers' Guide [map]. (2008)
  3. ^ a b United States Forest Service. United States Forest Service topographical maps via ACME Mapper [map]. Retrieved on January 2008.
  4. ^ California State Legislature (2002-08-15). "Senate Concurrent Resolution 52, Chapter 107" (PDF). 
  5. ^ Roadway Safety Foundation. "The California Coalition cleans up "Blood Alley"". Retrieved 2008-01. 
  6. ^ California Department of Transportation. "Highway 46 Project: Project Background". Retrieved 2008-01. 
  7. ^ Howe & Peters. Engineers' Report to California State Automobile Association Covering the Work of the California Highway Commission for the Period 1911-1920. pp. 11–16.,M1. 
  8. ^ "An act authorizing the acquisition, construction, improvement, maintenance and control of the uncompleted portions of the system of state highways...and certain extensions therefrom...", 1915 chapter 404, p. 653: "an extension connecting the San Joaquin valley trunk line at or near Bakersfield with the coast trunk line in San Luis Obispo county, through Cholame pass, by the most direct and practical route"
  9. ^ Official Automobile Blue Book, Volume Eight. 1919. pp. 20–21, 114. 
  10. ^ Clason Map Company. Mileage Map of the Best Roads of California and Nevada [map]. (1925)
  11. ^ "Bakersfield to Paso Robles Road Now Completed". Fresno Bee. 1930-12-24. 
  12. ^ "An act...relating to...the addition of certain highways to the State system.", 1933 chapter 767, p. 2038: "State Highway Route 56 near Cambria to State Highway Route 2 near Paso Robles."
  13. ^ "An act to establish a Streets and Highways Code...", 1935 chapter 29, p. 277: "Route 33 is from: (a) Route 4 near Bakersfield to Route 2 in San Luis Obispo County via Cholame Pass. (b) Route 56 near Cambria to Route 2 near Paso Robles."
  14. ^ a b c California Department of Transportation, Log of Bridges on State Highways, July 2007
  15. ^ California Division of Highways. "State Routes will be Numbered and Marked by Distinctive Bear Signs." California Highways and Public Works (1934).
  16. ^ Richard F. Weingroff. "U.S. 666: "Beast of a Highway"?". 
  17. ^ H.M. Gousha Company. Oregon [map]. (1935)
  18. ^ Rand McNally & Company. Richfield Strip Maps: California, Oregon, Washington [map]. (1936)
  19. ^ H.M. Gousha Company. California [map]. (1955)
  20. ^ H.M. Gousha Company. California [map]. (1963)
  21. ^ "An act...relating to routes on the state highway system.", 1963 chapter 385, p. 1175
  22. ^ "Shortage of Money Delays Expressway". Los Angeles Times: p. E6. 1966-10-05. 
  23. ^ California Department of Transportation, All Traffic Volumes on CSHS, 2005 and 2006
  24. ^ California Department of Transportation, California Numbered Exit Uniform System, U.S. Route 101 Freeway Interchanges, Retrieved on 2009-02-14.

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