Do 'beach cities' freeway signs in Inland Empire actually lead to the beach?

Rob McMillan Image
Thursday, April 5, 2018
Do 'beach cities' freeway signs in IE actually lead to the beach?
If you travel through the I.E., you probably noticed signs on the 91 supposedly directing you to the "beach cities." Do they really take you to the shore?

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- If you travel through the Inland Empire, you may have noticed signs on the 91 Freeway supposedly guiding you to the "beach cities." But if you rely on these signs, it might take you a while to reach the shore.

It's safe to say the Southern California freeway system is pretty complicated, but at least there's signage to help get you where you want to go - like signs that lead you to Barstow, Pasadena and Los Angeles.

If you want to get to the beach, there are signs that read "beach cities" on the 91 Freeway in Riverside.

Well, we followed those signs - several of them - hoping to get closer and closer to the beach cities when all of a sudden - the signs changed to "Los Angeles," "Artesia" and "Thru Traffic."

Sure enough, once you get to the county line, all of the "beach cities" signs disappear, and the surroundings are nowhere near any beach.

Terri Kasinga with Caltrans says the "beach cities" moniker has been around since at least 1973.

"Back in the day, most of the people that lived in the Inland Empire, probably were going to the beach," Kasinga said. "OK, we're 40 some years, almost 50 years, away from that. I guarantee you most of the people that take the 91 are going to work, either in Orange or L.A. counties."

So would it be more accurate for the signs to read Orange County? Well, not so fast. You see, freeway signs have to be named after a city, town, village or traffic generator.

Noe Bhuyian, a senior transportation engineer with Caltrans, described "traffic generators" as an airport, stadium - or beach cities.

To be fair, if you take the 91 Freeway all the way to its end, after a few miles on surface streets you'll end up at three beach cities - Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach. Also, the 91 does open the door to the Orange County beaches.

Bhuyian could start the process of changing the "beach cities" signs, but it would ultimately require approval from Sacramento.

Of course, these days most people probably don't pay too much attention to what's on these signs because of GPS.