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Glossary of Terms for Los Angeles and Santa Clarita

What is a SigAlert? Where is the Grapevine?

If you're new to California, Los Angeles, and Santa Clarita Valley, you're probably wondering what all of these terms mean. What exactly is CalTrans and what do they do? Where is the Four Corners in Valencia? Where is the Santa Clara River?

California Department of Transportation

California Highway Patrol

Four Corners
This is the intersection where Valencia Boulevard's name changes to Soledad Canyon Road, and San Fernando Road's name changes to Bouquet Canyon Road.

From Caltrans, "Most travelers think the portion of I-5 called the Grapevine begins at the north end of Castaic in the Santa Clarita Valley where the freeway begins a northerly climb at Parker Road -- and where the California Highway Patrol closes the freeway when snow or icy conditions northward prohibit safe travel. But this is not where the actual Grapevine is located. What they would be traveling on, instead, is what is most commonly known as the beginning of the five-mile grade where I-5 sharply rises to the north at a grade of 5% -- and the beginning of a 40 mile journey over the Tehachapi Mountains from northern Los Angeles County to the San Joaquin Valley in Kern County.

After the five mile grade, comes Templin Highway at about the 3,000-feet level. Proceeding north one encounters 22.5 more miles north on a rolling, meandering drive by Frazier Mountain through the Gorman area and the highest point of the drive at an altitude of 4,183 feet, and the summit of this famous drive.

Continuing northerly from the summit is a slight drop in altitude and in six more miles one reaches Fort Tejon, a state historic monument. Fort Tejon was established in 1854 to suppress stock rustling, which was rampant at that time, and to protect the Native Americans in the San Joaquin Valley. It is here where the actual portion of freeway known as the Grapevine actually begins."

Most Southern Californians know this area to be a trouble spot for winter travelers, as it is often closed, stranding motorists for hours.

Locals' Tip: If snow is predicted over 3,000 feet, using Hwy 101 will avoid this area. Keep in mind, it can be sunny in Santa Clarita, while The Grapevine is experiencing a blizzard.

Santa Clara River
For many of us who have lived "east of California," we expect to see water in the area marked as the Santa Clara River on our local maps. However, the river is dry for most of the year. But beware, as heavy rains can make the usually dry riverbed a raging river very quickly.

As defined by the CHiP, "a warning broadcast by radio stations telling of unusual or hazardous traffic conditions. The Sigalert was the brainchild of a broadcast pioneer named Loyd C. Sigmon."

Updated September 28, 2017
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