US Route 99 from Red Bluff south to Sacramento was originally a singular highway which traversed Sacramento Valley by way of Woodland. By 1928 US Route 99 had been split into an east/west dual alignment in Sacramento Valley. US Route 99 West followed the original mainline highway through Woodland whereas US Route 99 East followed eastern Sacramento Valley towards Marysville. Much of the alignment of US Route 99 East was streamlined following the decommissioning of US Route 99 in California becoming modern California State Route 99. The blog cover images features what was US Route 99 East on E Street in Marysville as seen in the November/December 1966 California Highways & Public Works. The below images are taken from the 1965 Division of Highways Map which shows US Route 99 East alongside California State Route 99 during the dying days of US Route 99 in California.
Part 1; the history of US Route 99 East and the evolution of "New US Route 99" into California State Route 99 in the Red Bluff-Sacramento corridor
Thusly US 99 appears on the 1925 Rand McNally Map of California as being routed from Red Bluff south on LRN 7 to Davis and US 40/LRN 6 to Sacramento.
The January 1928 California Highways & Public Works describes US 99 as a single route heading south out of Red Bluff via LRN 7 towards Davis and via a multiplex of US 40/LRN 6 to Sacramento.
The AASHO data base has information pertaining to a request made by the California State Highway Engineer to have US 99 become a split route between Red Bluff south to Sacramento. In a letter dated June 13th, 1928 the rationale for splitting US 99 into an East/West Route was a two-to-one traffic ratio on LRN 3 on the east bank of the Sacramento River compared to LRN 7 on the west bank.
The proposed US 99W/US 99E split can be seen for the first time on this map (which was scanned upside down in the AASHO database).
The US 99W/US 99E split from Red Bluff to Sacramento was approved by the AASHO on August 6th, 1928.
The December 1929 California Highways & Public Works features the recently widen segment of US 99E/US 40/LRN 3 in North Sacramento on Auburn Boulevard. The new alignment of US 99E/US 40/LRN 3 consisted of 8.7 miles of road surface expanded from 18 feet in width to 30 feet.
The first edition to display US 99 as a split route south of Red Bluff towards Sacramento can be seen on the 1930 Division of Highways State Map.
Historically US Route 99 ("US 99") entered Red Bluff headed southbound via Main Street on what was Legislative Route Number 3 ("LRN 3"). As US 99 headed south on Main Street it picked up California State Route 36 ("CA 36") eastbound at Beagum Road which was carried by LRN 29. US 99 south/CA 36 east continued south on Main Street/LRN 3 to downtown Red Bluff. At the intersection of Main Street and Antelope Boulevard US 99 split into a East/West Route. US 99E south turned eastbound along with CA 36 eastbound over the Sacramento River via Antelope Boulevard/LRN 3. On the outskirts of Red Bluff CA 36 east split from US 99E south via LRN 29 towards Lassen Volcanic National Park. US 99E make a southward turn towards Marysville and Roseville via LRN 3. The route of US 99W was far more conventional as it headed directly south on Main Street via LRN 7 towards Woodland. The below illustration depicts the historic alignments of; US 99, US 99E, US 99W, and CA 36 in Red Bluff.
Red Bluff is the Tehama County Seat and lies at an elevation of 305 feet above sea level due to it being located on the floor of Sacramento Valley. When gold was discovered in Yreka in 1851 it led to a rush which took travelers through Sacramento Valley. The rush to Yreka led to a small community developing at the confluence of Reeds Creek and the Sacramento River. The community was originally known as Leodocia and Covertsburg before Post Office Service opened as "Red Bluff" in October 1853. The name "Red Bluff" comes from formations near the community which were once apparent on the Sacramento River. When Tehama County was created in 1856 the community of Tehama was the initial County Seat but it was moved to Red Bluff in 1857. The Southern Pacific Railroad reached Red Bluff in 1872 and the community incorporated as a City in March of 1876.
Red Bluff can along the Southern Pacific Railroad on the 1873 Oregon, California, & Nevada Railroad Map.
What was US 99W entered Red Bluff headed north on Main Street. Main Street in Red Bluff is presently signed as Interstate 5 Business. Main Street at Exit 647 is slightly aligned east of where US 99W once was to approximately north to Luther Road.
Former US 99W/Interstate 5 Business continues north on Main Street to CA 36 at Antelope Boulevard. As noted above mainline US 99 continued straight on Main Street co-signed with CA 36 west. US 99E began at Antelope Boulevard co-signed with CA 36. The intersection of Main Street and Antelope Boulevard can be seen on in the third photo below.
From the intersection of Main Street and Antelope Boulevard Former US 99E/CA 36 east crosses the Sacramento River and intersects Interstate 5.
CA 36 east of Interstate 5 is co-signed as "TO CA 99" on Antelope Boulevard. At Postmile TEH 44.000 CA 36 east intersects CA 99. US 99E once split from CA 36 where CA 99 now is signed. CA 36 eastbound approaching CA 99 southbound indicates Chico is 42 miles away.
CA 99 southbound departing Red Bluff is signed as a Safety Corridor for the next 29 miles.
CA 99 southbound enters the City of Chico and intersects the original alignment of US 99E at Esplande at Postmile BUT T38.29.
CA 99 southbound passes through Gridley and departs the City. CA 99 southbound departing Gridley is signed as 5 miles from Live Oak, 16 miles from Yuba City and 60 miles from Sacramento.
Approaching the Sutter County Line a large sign on CA 99 southbound as of September 2021 announces the active Safety Improvements ongoing in and around Live Oak.
CA 99 southbound enters the City of Live Oak where it is aligned on Live Oak Boulevard. CA 99 southbound on Live Oak Boulevard as of September 2021 was undergoing safety oriented improvements. As CA 99 southbound passes through Live Oak the 1905 Southern Pacific Railroad Depot can be observed. Live Oak was established as a Post Office location 1874 between the Southern Pacific Sidings of Gridley and Lomo. Live Oak would incorporate as a City on January 22nd, 1947.
CA 99 south of Live Oak follows Live Oak Boulevard to a Union Pacific Railroad crossing at Postmile SUT T35.95. Live Oak Boulevard and the original alignment US 99E split from CA 99 southbound via an inaccessible intersection at Postmile SUT 36.00. The safety improvements at the CA 99/Live Oak Boulevard intersection were constructed during 2021.
Yuba City is the Sutter County Seat and the county's largest community. Yuba City was part of a Mexican Land Grant to John Sutter located at the confluence of the Feather River and Yuba River. Following the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill the lands at the Feather River and Yuba River would be sold to settlers looking to plot a town site. Yuba City by 1852 was a major ferry landing site and would become the Sutter County Seat in 1854. Yuba City would incorporate as a City on January 23rd, 1908. Yuba City can be at the confluence of the Feather River and Yuba River on the 1857 Britton & Rey's Map of California.
CA 70 southbound follows E Street over former US 99E out of Marysville over the Yuba River where the highway expands to a freeway.
Part 5; former US Route 99 East on the Ben Ali -Roseville Freeway and Elvas Freeway
Southbound on CA 51/Interstate 80 Business the Capitol City Freeway designation is strongly emphasized.
At Marconi Avenue CA 51/Interstate 80 Business has something of Dead Man's curve which was part of the reason the alignment is not up to Interstate Standards.
At exit 9B CA 51/Interstate 80 Business intersect CA 160 and the North Sacramento Freeway. The junction of the Capitol City Freeway at the North Sacramento Freeway is where the Ben Ali-Roseville Freeway designation ended and the Elvas Freeway designation began. As noted in Part 1 US 99E originally followed US 40 into downtown Sacramento via the North Sacramento Freeway and was later realigned onto the Elvas Freeway.
CA 51/Interstate 80 Business has one Exit at Exposition Boulevard (9A) over what was the Elvas Freeway before crossing the American River. Upon crossing the American River US 99E would have split onto the 29th Street and 30th Street couplets.
CA 160 south on the North Sacramento Freeway begins at approximately Post Mile SAC 47.000. Something immediately noticeable about the North Sacramento Freeway is the oleander bushes that populate the median. The median plant growth is typical of pre-Interstate era freeway designs in California.
At Exit 47B CA 160 south on the North Sacramento Freeway accesses Royal Oaks Drive.
At Exit 47A CA 160 south accesses Canterbury Road and Leisure Lane.
CA 160 south on the North Sacramento Freeway crosses the American River where it becomes12th Street at Richards Boulevard. The State Maintenance of CA 160 terminates immediately at the south bank of the American River at Post Mile SAC R44.456. US 99E would have originally followed 16th Street into downtown Sacramento.
More regarding the historic highway alignments in downtown Sacramento including US Route 99 can be found in the Gribblenation blog below: