Prior to 1926, Kern County’s portion of U.S. 99 highway was better known as Legislative Route 4, and was the highway system that kept California together as a state. Numerous Bills were proposed by elected officials in Sacramento to split California into two states because the state lacked a direct link to the Central Valley through the Tehachapi Mountains or San Gabriel Mountains. The inland and coastal routes to the Central Valley from Los Angeles were long and costly. The decision to build a Ridge Route came in 1911. American road engineers were sent to Europe to study their mountain roadways and bring back the knowledge necessary to build a mountain highway in the western United States. Legislative Route 4 was deemed a success statewide as it helped expedite commodities from the Central Valley to Los Angeles and back. In 1926, the federal government adopted several highways in every state in order to create a more efficient transportation system between the Canadian and Mexican borders. Early U.S. Route 99 connected the major and minor cities of the San Joaquin Valley to Southern and Northern California to allow the transportation of people and agriculture harvests. If Route 66 was the ‘Mother Road,’ Highway 99 became known as the ‘Main Street of California.’
We are currently working with traffic engineers from the City of Bakersfield, Kern County, and Caltrans to install the signs. We are thinking around twenty to twenty-six signs because of the two significant route alignments that are important to Bakersfield’s development. The first alignment (1926-1933) reached from South Union Avenue and Freeway 99 (Greenfield) up to 18th Street west, over to Chester Avenue (Downtown), up to Roberts Lane (Oildale) and out to the Highway 99 again. The second alignment (1934-1963) reached from South Union Avenue to Airport Drive. Signs would be placed for north/southbound as well as east/westbound traffic. Talks are underway to also install signs in Delano and Frazier Park once our project in Bakersfield is successfully completed.
The Kern County Historical Society is raising $2,000+/- needed for the signs. Please consider helping us by making a donation towards the fabrication and installation of these signs.