Randolph Collier of Etna Becomes California's Freeway "Father"

Jan 2, 2014

 The silver-haired and voiced Senator who became known as the “father of the California freeways,” Randolph Collier, was born in Etna in 1902.  During his life, he went from being a Yreka police judge to serving in the state legislature from 1938-1976. 

 Sen. Collier represented Humboldt, Mendocino, Sonoma, Lake, Trinity, Del Norte, and Siskiyou counties, a district larger than some individual states.  A powerful man who had tremendous support and severe critics, he effectively pushed controversial measures through the legislature. Measures Collier spearheaded included the Collier-Burns Act of 1947, which introduced the California Highway Plan. He also supported the Highway Act of 1953, which propelled the development of California’s freeways and led to the adoption of the California Freeway and Expressway System in 1959.  In 1963, the newly constructed Tunnel 01-049 through Oregon Mountain on Hwy 199 in Del Norte County was named in Collier’s honor. The tunnel, three miles south of the Oregon state line, eliminated 128 curves and hairpin switchbacks over the summit. This made the highway passable in snowy weather and provided the first direct route from northwest Nevada to the Pacific Ocean.  

  Sources:  Turner, Wallace. "Randolph Collier, 'Father' Of Coast Freeways." New York Times Arhive  3 Aug. 1983, obituaries ed. Web. 15 Dec. 2013; "Randolph Collier, Father of Freeways, dead at 81." Lodi (Calif.) News-Sentinel Archive  3 Aug. 1983: 3. Web. 15 Dec. 2013;  "Randolph Collier Democratic." JoinCalifornia, Election History for the State of California. Web. 15 Dec. 2013.