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California State Route 223; Bear Mountain Boulevard

The second of four routes I did this past Sunday was California State Route 223.


CA 223 is a 30 mile east/west state highway in Kern County.  CA 223 has a western terminus at I-5 and a eastern terminus at CA 58, the route is entirely on Bear Mountain Boulevard.  I approached CA 223 from Old River Road which required a short backtrack to I-5 to begin the route in an easterly direction towards CA 58.  I found this odd "end" placard at the western terminus of CA 223.






West of I-5 I pulled a U-turn on Bear Mountain Boulevard and started to head eastward.  Bear Mountain Boulevard actually continues a couple miles west of I-5 where it terminates at the bed of Lake Buena Vista.







There isn't much on CA 223 in terms of destinations.  CA 99 is signed as 10 miles to the east, Arvin 20 miles to the east, and CA 58 is 32 miles eastward.


Old River Road seemed to the only road of significance east to CA 99.  There is one rail crossing between I-5 and CA 99 on CA 223.  CA 223 has an odd ramp configuration with the CA 99 freeway.







CA 223 is signed as the Purple Heart Trail east of CA 99.  CA 223 crosses the four lane expressway that was former US 99 on Union Avenue.  Arvin is still 10 miles east of Union Avenue along CA 223.










CA 223 meets the southern terminus of CA 184 only 4 miles west of Arvin.






CA 223 enters the City Limits of Arvin at Comanche Drive where it becomes a four-lane road.  CA 223 continues as a four-lane road through Arvin before dropping back to two-lanes at Tejon Highway.  Arvin had Post Office service back in the 1910s but hit a boom when the Mountain View Oil Field was discovered in the 1930s.  The Tehachapi Range and Bear Mountain can be seen exiting Arvin eastbound on CA 223.




CA 58 is only 11 miles east of Arvin along CA 223.  Arvin is only about 450 feet above sea level which is notable considering what lies to the east.






CA 223 rapidly begins to approach the Tehachapi.  The downhill dip east of Arvin provides a huge vista to view the Tehachapi Range, CA 223, and Bear Mountain.  Bear Mountain is a 6,916 foot peak in the Tehachapi Range and is the source of the name "Bear Mountain Boulevard."





Personally I prefer how the monochrome photo turned out.





The climb on CA 223 in the Tehachpai Range is fast and has some huge road cuts.  I'm not sure of the grade but it felt way steeper than CA 58.






There aren't any true vista points on CA 223 but I managed to make my own and the view was certainly worthwhile.  The change in character on CA 223 from bland straight-line highway to mountain-side cruise is abrupt and striking.







CA 223 passes Bakersfield National Cemetery one mile before the eastern terminus at CA 58.  Bakersfield National Cemetery is relatively new having just opened back in 2009.






CA 223 terminates at an at-grade junction with CA 58.  The road on the left is Bena Road which is the original alignment of US 466.  The mountains north of CA 58 is the southern extent of the Sierra Nevadas.





CA 223 was a new designation created in 1964 to replace the unsigned segment of Legislative Route 140 east of US 99.  The change from LRN 140 to CA 223 can be seen by comparing the 1963 and 1964 State Highway Maps.

1963 State Highway Map

1964 State Highway Map 

LRN 140 was adopted in 1933 and part of it was once signed as US 399.  More detail on LRN 140 be found on CAhighways.org.

CAhighways.org on LRN 140

LRN 140 east of US 99 and early CA 223 were substantially different west of Arvin.  From US 99 on Union Avenue LRN 140 eastward followed Buena Vista Boulevard, Vineland Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, and Comanche Boulevard before meeting Bear Mountain Boulevard in Arvin.  The alignment I described can be seen on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of Kern County.

1935 Kern County Highway Map

By 1965 CA 223 was straightened westward from Arvin to US 99 on Bear Mountain Boulevard.  The extension west to the unbuilt I-5 is shown as proposed on the 1965 State Highway Map.

1965 State Highway Map

Sometime in the early 1970s I-5 was completed near Bakersfield and CA 223 was extended to it.  The earliest map I can find showing this is the 1975 State Highway Map.

1975 State Highway Map



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