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US Route 99 to Visalia?...

Something that I noticed awhile back while doing map research regarding US Route 99 in Fresno was that the highway intended to be originally routed through the City of Visalia.



The early originally planned alignment of US Route 99 in Visalia

To be clear US 99 was never actually routed through Visalia and ended up bypassing the City in favor of a direct route from Goshen southeast to Tulare.  US 99 within San Joaquin Valley was aligned over Legislative Route 4 which in turn was added to the State Highway System as part of the 1909 First State Highway Bond Act.  LRN 4 for a time was aligned through Visalia via; Mineral King Avenue, Main Street, and Mooney Boulevard.  This early alignment of LRN 4 through Visalia can be seen on the 1924 Division of Highways State Map.


The initial draft of the US Route System was approved by the Secretary of Agriculture during November of 1925.  The US Route System with in California was approved by California Highway Commission with no changes recommended by January 1926.  The initial alignment of US 99 was planned to simply follow LRN 4 from Sacramento south to Los Angeles.  The existing routing of LRN 4 by the start 1926 would have taken US 99 through Visalia.



Thusly US 99 appears on the 1925 Rand McNally Map of California as being routed through Visalia.


US 99 also appears on the 1926 Rand McNally Map of California over LRN 4 through Visalia.


So why wasn't US 99 initially aligned through Visalia?  The answer is that LRN 4 was realigned out of Visalia onto a more direct route between Goshen and Tulare during 1926.  LRN 4 was realigned over what is now Camp Drive in Goshen southwest via a Southern Pacific frontage road east of the rails to I Street in Tulare.  While Visalia was (and is) the Tulare County Seat the new alignment of LRN 4 was far more efficient in terms of getting traffic directly to/from Sacramento and Los Angeles.  Mineral King Road was retained in the State Highway System as part of LRN 10 which would later become CA 198 during 1934.  The new direct Goshen-Tulare alignment of US 99 can be seen the 1926 Division of Highways Map of California.


The final version of the US Route System was approved during November of 1926.  This first official version of the US Route System had US 99 following LRN 4 from Sacramento and Los Angeles which in turn bypassed Visalia.  The US Route System in California along with US Route 99 are detailed in the January 1928 CHPW guide.  Most documented sources tend to agree that the US Routes in California were not signed by the California State Automobile Association ("CSAA") and Automobile Club of Southern California ("ACSC") until 1928.




The initial alignment of US 99 appears on the 1930 Division of Highways Map bypassing Visalia in favor of the direct Goshen-Tulare route. 


Mooney Boulevard would later return to the State Highway System as part of Legislative Route 132 in 1933.  Mooney Boulevard would later be signed as part of CA 63 starting in 1950

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