U.S. Route 99 in California

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This article is about the section of U.S. Route 99 in California. For the entire route, see U.S. Route 99.

U.S. Route 99 marker

U.S. Route 99
Pacific Highway
Golden State Highway
Route information
Maintained by Caltrans
Existed: 1926 – 1972[1]
Major junctions
South end: Fed. 5 at U.S.–Mexico border in Calexico, CA[2]
North end: US 99 in Oregon
Highway system
SR 98 SR 99

U.S. Route 99 (US 99) was the main north–south United States Numbered Highway on the West Coast of the United States until 1964, running from Calexico, California, on the US–Mexico border to Blaine, Washington, on the U.S.-Canada border. Known also as the "Golden State Highway" and "The Main Street of California", US 99 was an important route in California throughout much of the 1930s as a route for Dust Bowl immigrant farm workers to traverse the state. It was assigned in 1926 and existed until it was replaced for the most part by Interstate 5. A large section in the Central Valley is now State Route 99.

Route description[edit]

Mexico to Los Angeles[edit]

The highway started at the border with Baja California in Calexico, California. It then continued north along the western shore of the Salton Sea. The stretch is now known as State Route 86. Highway 99 continued along present-day State Route 111 through Coachella to its intersection at Dillon Road with another major US route signed as both US 60 and US 70.

Now multiplexed as US 60/70/99, the highway continued north through Indio and turned west through the San Gorgonio Pass toward Los Angeles paralleling the route of modern Interstate 10. In Beaumont, Highway 60 split off on its own westward trek to Los Angeles. The highway through Banning and Beaumont (known as Ramsey Street in Banning and Sixth Street in Beaumont) was bypassed by the new superhighway version of US 60/70/99 that would later become part of Interstate 10. The edges of the old US 60 shield at the replacement interchange's overhead sign are clearly visible today underneath the State Route 60 shield that covers it up.

US 70 ended in downtown LA while US 99 turned north once again more or less following the route of today's Interstate 5 (San Fernando Road in the San Fernando Valley before the construction of the 5 Freeway), up and over Grapevine Hill in the Tehachapi Mountains to the San Joaquin Valley. Highway 99's original alignment over the hill was known in its earliest days as the Ridge Route, the first highway directly linking the Los Angeles Basin to the San Joaquin Valley. Built in 1915, the alignment between Castaic and State Route 138 in Gorman is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This section was bypassed in 1933 by the three-lane "Alternate Ridge Route" (much of which is now at the bottom of Pyramid Lake).

From the southern tip of the San Joaquin Valley at the foot of the Grapevine, US 99 then continued to Sacramento where it split into two highways, 99E and 99W. The two highways rejoined in Red Bluff and continued once again as US 99 through Oregon, Washington and to the border with British Columbia, becoming Highway 99.

Los Angeles[edit]

When it was first designated in late 1926, US 99 ran with U.S. Route 66 from San Bernardino via Pasadena to Los Angeles, turning north there to San Fernando.[4] The route was signed in 1928. This alignment remained through 1933,[5] but by 1942 it had moved to its own alignment (concurrent with U.S. Route 70, as well as U.S. Route 60 west of Pomona) from San Bernardino to Los Angeles. This alignment used Garvey Avenue from Pomona, turning onto Ramona Boulevard in Alhambra to reach Macy Street (now Cesar E. Chavez Avenue) near downtown Los Angeles. It turned north at Figueroa Street, running through the Figueroa Street Tunnels and turning off at Avenue 26 to reach San Fernando Road.[6][7] When the San Bernardino Freeway, Santa Ana Freeway and Pasadena Freeway were completed, it was routed onto them, continuing to exit at Avenue 26.[8] In 1962, with the completion of the Golden State Freeway northeast of downtown, US 99 was moved onto it, bypassing the Santa Ana Freeway, Four Level Interchange and Figueroa Street Tunnels.

Los Angeles to Oregon[edit]

From Los Angeles US 99 followed San Fernando Road through Glendale and Burbank to Sylmar. From 1937 to 1964 it shared this routing with U.S. Route 6; the remaining stretch of the highway through the Santa Clarita Valley is named "The Old Road." The Old Road starts in near the Newhall Pass Interchange, just south of Santa Clarita, eventually crossing under present-day Interstate 5. As the road now winds north, passing by Pico Canyon Road, it reaches Mc Bean Parkway near the California Institute of the Arts, College of the Canyons and Six Flags Magic Mountain. In Castaic The Old Road becomes a suburban street and ends at Oak Hill Court, just outside Castaic. A substantial portion of the road is submerged beneath Pyramid Lake; the northern side is now the lake's public access road, while the southern side is access to the dam.[9]

A section of the 1915 Ridge Route in Lebec, California, abandoned when U.S. 99 (Ridge Route Alternate) opened over Tejon Pass in 1933
Historic US 99 Marker
Historic US 99 Marker on I-5

99 then headed over Tejon Pass to the San Joaquin Valley. Just north of the route's entry to the valley, Interstate 5 splits off from US 99, and US 99 continued on the current route of State Route 99, to Bakersfield, Fresno, and Sacramento. Many older segments of the highway between the "Grapevine" and Sacramento still exist as local streets, many of them having "Golden State" in their names (such as Golden State Ave, Golden State Blvd, Golden State Hwy.).

North of Sacramento, the route divided into US 99W and US 99E. US 99W co-routed with US 40 west to Davis, in city as Olive Drive. The route continued as Richards Boulevard, 1st Street, B Street, and Russell Boulevard before turning north on what is now State Route 113 into Woodland to meet and parallel Interstate 5 near the town of Yolo. From there, the route parallels the current I-5, entering Corning from the South as Old Corning road, turning East onto Solano Street before turning North again on 3rd street continuing to Red Bluff, where it became Main Street. All of the old inter-town original roadway still exists, signed as 99W, CR99 or CR99W.

From Sacramento US 99E followed Interstate 80 (first the current business route, then the actual route) to Roseville, then north along State Route 65 to Olivehurst, from where it followed State Route 70 to Marysville. From Marysville it followed State Route 20 across the Feather River to Yuba City, then along the current State Route 99 north to Red Bluff, where it rejoined 99W at Main Street and Antelope Blvd.

From Red Bluff US 99 continued north along the same route as Interstate 5, except that it went through Redding along present State Route 273, and followed State Route 265 in Weed and State Route 263 from Yreka to near Black Mountain.

Old 99 Highway in Siskiyou County, California.

A 22.7-mile-long (36.5 km) stretch of two-lane county road known as "Old 99 Highway" exists in Siskiyou County, California in the same form as it did when it was US 99. It roughly parallels I-5, but at one point diverges from it by a distance of several miles. Old 99 Highway serves the village of Gazelle.


By 1968, US 99 was completely decommissioned with the completion of I-5 in Washington and California, but the highway's phasing out actually began July 1, 1964 thanks to the passage of Collier Senate Bill No. 64 on September 20, 1963. The bill launched a major program designed to greatly simplify California's increasingly complicated highway numbering system and eliminate concurrent postings like the aforementioned 60/70/99. The highways that replaced it are:

  • SR 111 and SR 86 between the Mexican border and Indio.
  • I-10, replacing US 60 and US 70 between Indio and Los Angeles as well.
  • U.S. Route 101 and SR 110 in downtown Los Angeles.
  • I-5 from north of downtown all the way to its modern-day split in Wheeler Ridge before 99's final decommissioning in 1968.

The 424-mile (682 km) stretch between Wheeler Ridge and Red Bluff is signed as State Route 99 which makes it California's second-longest state highway behind SR 1. However, the newly enacted Historic U.S. Route 99 extends from Indio starting from Interstate 10 in the Coachella Valley all the way down the Imperial Valley to Calexico on the US-Mexican border with Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico.

Major intersections[edit]

Suffixed routes[edit]

U.S. Route 99W
Location: Central Valley

U.S. Route 99E
Location: Central Valley

U.S. Route 99W was a short-lived alternate of U.S. Route 99 in the Central Valley of California, United States, running from north of Manteca via French Camp to Stockton. At the same time, from roughly 1929 to 1933,[10] U.S. Route 99E ran to the east, having the same termini as US 99W.

US 99W ran along French Camp Road and El Dorado Street, while US 99E used present State Route 99 and Mariposa Road.[citation needed] The northern end of each in Stockton is unclear; it may have been at Charter Way and Wilson Way or at Harding Way and Wilson Way.[11]

Prior to the establishment of the United States Numbered Highways in 1926, the main Los Angeles-Sacramento route, pre-1964 Legislative Route 4, ran from Manteca to Stockton via French Camp (later US 99W). At French Camp, pre-1964 Legislative Route 5 split to the southwest to reach the San Francisco Bay Area via Altamont Pass.[12][13][14] The Lincoln Highway used Route 4 from Sacramento to French Camp and Route 5 over Altamont Pass.

In November 1926, Route 4 was defined as part of U.S. Route 99 and Route 5 (to San Jose) became U.S. Route 48.[4] California's U.S. Routes were not marked until 1928,[15] and US 99 had not yet been split into US 99E and US 99W.[16]

Around 1929, Route 4 was realigned between north of Manteca and Stockton. This became US 99E, and the old route became US 99W. Route 5 was extended north from French Camp to Stockton, but US 48 continued to end at US 99W. US 48 became an extension of U.S. Route 50 ca. 1931, running concurrent with US 99 from Sacramento to Stockton and US 99W to French Camp.[17] Around 1933, US 99W was dropped, and US 99E became part of US 99. Most of former US 99E is now part of State Route 99 but former US 99W has been bypassed by Interstate 5.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wiley, Mike. "Pacific Highway #1". Oregon Highways. Self-published. Retrieved March 9, 2013. [unreliable source?]
  2. ^ a b c d Map of US 99 at California/Mexico border (Map). Archived from the original on November 25, 2010. Retrieved October 10, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e California State Highway Map 1961 (Map). California State Department of Public Works Highway Division. August 19, 1961. Retrieved March 12, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Bureau of Public Roads & American Association of State Highway Officials (November 11, 1926). United States System of Highways Adopted for Uniform Marking by the American Association of State Highway Officials (Map). 1:7,000,000. Washington, DC: U.S. Geological Survey. OCLC 32889555. Retrieved November 7, 2013 – via University of North Texas Libraries. 
  5. ^ (Map). Rand McNally Los Angeles and Vicinity. 1933 http://members.cox.net/mkpl2/hist/droz-laca33n.jpg.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ Los Angeles and Vicinity (Map). H.M. Gousha. 1942. 
  7. ^ Los Angeles (Map). Collier's. 1943. 
  8. ^ 1959 Los Angeles map
  9. ^ Ballard, Michael (August 29, 2014). "US 99 – Piru Gorge : Beneath Pyramid Lake". socalregion.com. Retrieved 2015-09-08. 
  10. ^ "U.S. Highways: Divided (Split) Routes". Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  11. ^ Stockton (Map). Rand McNally. 1933. 
  12. ^ "California Highways: Legislative Route 4". Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  13. ^ "California Highways: Legislative Route 5". Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  14. ^ San Francisco and Vicinity inset (Map). Rand McNally. 1926. 
  15. ^ "Route Renumbering: New Green Markers Will Replaces Old Shields" (PDF). California Highways and Public Works. 43 (1–2): 11–14. March–April 1964. ISSN 0008-1159. Retrieved March 8, 2012. 
  16. ^ "California US Highways in 1928". Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  17. ^ "east–west U.S. Highways". Retrieved 9 October 2014. 

External links[edit]