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Former US Route 99 in the City of Turlock

 
 
Former US Route 99 in Turlock of Stanislaus County, California traditionally was aligned on Golden State Boulevard.  The history of US Route 99 in Turlock contains numerous highway upgrade delays which put it far behind cities of similar size in San Joaquin Valley.  Indeed, even the modern California State Route 99 freeway bypass in Turlock came late enough that it was never part of US Route 99. 

 

Part 1; the history of US Route 99 in Turlock

Previous to the Southern Pacific Railroad travel via wagon or foot in Central California tended to avoid San Joaquin Valley in favor of the Stockton-Los Angeles Road.  The Stockton Los Angeles Road lied to the east of San Joaquin Valley in the Sierra Nevada Foothills and was less subject flooding.  Before the Southern Pacific Railroad most of San Joaquin Valley was a sparsely inhabited wetland which made travel by road difficult.  Upon the emergence of the Southern Pacific Railroad the community of Atwater would quickly develop.

Turlock was plotted in December 1871 as a Southern Pacific Railroad siding by wheat farmer John William Mitchell.  The name "Turlock" is thought to have been taken from the Irish town of Turlough which had been popularized in an 1870 Harper's Weekly article.  Given Turlock was located on the Southern Pacific Railroad it grew in importance quickly and incorporated during February of 1908.   

Turlock can along the Southern Pacific Railroad on the 1873 Oregon, California, & Nevada Railroad Map.  

 
 
The emergence of the automobile in the early 20th Century in California led to the 1909 First State Highway Bond Act which was approved by voters during 1910.  The majority of the highways approved as part of the First State Highway Bond Act were largely well established routes of travel.  One such highway was Legislative Route Number 4 ("LRN 4") which was defined as a highway from "Sacramento to Los Angeles."

The 1917 California State Automobile Map shows the early alignment of LRN 4 through Turlock.  Headed northbound LRN 4 can be seen entering Turlock via First Street on a western frontage of the Southern Pacific Railroad.  LRN 4 can be seen crossing the Southern Pacific Railroad via Olive Avenue and turning northwest onto Geer Road.  LRN 4 transitioned from Geer Road as an eastern frontage of the Southern Pacific to Front Street. 

LRN 4 through Turlock can be seen as part of the Inland Route on the 1920 Clason Highway Map of California

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 Route 99 ("US 99") was planned to follow the Inland Route via LRN 4 from Sacramento to Los Angeles.  US 99 is shown on a map published in the 1926 California Highways & Public Works following LRN 4 south from Sacramento through Turlock. 
 

 
During November of 1926 the US Route System was approved by the AASHO.  US 99 can be seen aligned through Turlock on the 1927 National Map Company Sectional Map


The January/February 1933 California Highways & Public Works cites a proposed new approach for northbound US 99/LRN 4 into Turlock.  


US 99/LRN 4 appears on the alignment of Golden State Boulevard through Turlock on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of Stanislaus County.  

 
The November 1939 California Highways & Public Works details the construction of a new railroad overpass in Turlock which was slated to soon be completed.  The article details that the original LRN 4 crossing of the Southern Pacific Railroad in Turlock which had a 90 degree angle (Oliver Avenue) which had been paved by 1913.  This alignment was replaced by a new temporary crossing east of downtown Turlock which carried US 99/LRN 4 from First Street to Golden State Boulevard via an at-grade crossing via a 21 degree angle.  The Turlock Overhead was funded via a 1938 Federal Grade Separation Allotment.  




The April 1940 California Highways & Public Works details the dedication of the Turlock Overhead.  The Turlock Overhead opened to traffic on April 5th, 1940.  


 
US 99/LRN 4 south of Turlock as seen in the September/October 1952 California Highways & Public Works.  

The November/December 1960 California Highways & Public Works notes that Turlock was the only major San Joaquin Valley City where US 99/LRN 4 did not have a completed or funded freeway.  The stub article goes onto describe a Turlock Freeway alignment as being adopted.  

The November/December 1961 California Highways & Public Works notes Turlock was only major city on US 99/LRN 4 in San Joaquin Valley where right of way acquisition was not yet complete. 


The AASHO Renumbering database shows that US 99 was approved to be truncated out of California by the AASHO Executive Committee on June 29th, 1965.  This measure was put Turlock on what is now California State Route 99 ("CA 99"). 







Subsequently the planned Turlock Bypass alignment appears on the 1967 Division of Highways State Map as CA 99.  

CA 99 was upgraded to a freeway bypass of Golden State Boulevard in Turlock during the early 1970s.  The CA 99 freeway bypass of Turlock first appears on the 1975 Caltrans State Map.  


Part 2; a drive on former US Route 99 through Turlock via Golden State Boulevard

CA 99 northbound approaching Turlock in Merced County intersects Former US 99 at Exit 209 which accesses Golden State Boulevard.   Golden State Boulevard is signed from CA 99 as the CA 99 Business Route. 



Golden State Boulevard transitioning away from CA 99 enters Stanislaus County as an expressway.  




Golden State Boulevard continues as an expressway to the Turlock Overhead.  As Golden State Boulevard crosses the Turlock Overhead it enters the City of Turlock.  Notably the Turlock Overhead still carries a Division of Highways Bridge identifier placard with which places it at Route 99 Postmile STA 1.72. 












As Golden State Boulevard enters downtown Turlock it picks up Stanislaus County Route J17 ("J17") at East Avenue. 


Golden State Boulevard continues northwest through downtown Turlock and intersects Olive Avenue where it picks up northbound J14.  J17 departs westbound from Golden State Boulevard multiplexed with J14 southbound via Olive Avenue.



J14 northbound departs Golden State Boulevard via Geer Road. 




Golden State Boulevard continues northwest out of downtown Turlock.  Approaching Christoffersen Parkway US 99 would have crossed what is now the CA 99 freeway to what is now Taylor Court.  









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