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State Shield

State Route 120

Click here for a key to the symbols used. An explanation of acronyms may be found at the bottom of the page.

Routing Routing

  1. Rte 120 Seg 1From Route 5 near Mossdale to the west boundary of Yosemite National Park via the vicinity of Manteca and Oakdale, and via Big Oak Flat and Buck Meadows.

    Post 1964 Signage History Post 1964 Signage History

    This segment is unchanged from its 1963 definition. There is a adopted but unconstructed 20 mile portion from Route 99 to Oakdale that is parallel to the existing traversable route.

    Route 120 Bypass

    Rte 120 Manteca Bypass Route AdoptionIn 1967, the bypass process started when the CHC considered adoption of a freeway routing for 21.1 mi of Route 120 between Route 99 E of Manteca and Atlas Road, E of Oakdale. The recommended routing runs E from Route 99 about 1 mi S of Yosemite Avenue (existing Route 120), turning slightly NE about 1 mi W of Oakdale Valley Home Highway to cross Jackson Avenue (the existing highway in and E of Escalon) just N of River Road. It then turns SE to cross the Stanislaus River and the NE tip of Oakdale, and curves E again to rejoin the Route 108/Route 120 expressway at Atlas Road. It was noted that the Manteca Bypass was 2nd on the county's priority list.
    (Source: Stockton Evening and Sunday Record, 7/24/1967, via Joel Windmiller, 2/16/2023)

    The Route 120 bypass dates back to 1976, when state funding for the construction was approved by the CTC. An article in the Manteca/Ripon Bulletin explored the history. It notes that, originally, both Caltrans head Adriana Gianturcco and the CTC were against the route. What turned the tide was persistent grassroots pressure including blanket distribution of information to travelers caught in hellacious Manteca traffic jams on Fridays and Sundays and an aggressive effort to enlist the support of media outlets in the influential Bay Area. Additionally, Jack Snyder — the Manteca councilman who had taken the point in the community effort to end the five-mile plus long traffic jams that paralyzed Manteca from Bay Area residents going to and from the Sierra — worked with Gov. Jerry Brown to convince him to support the routing. Although businesses were originally against it, it turned out to be the catalyst for economic development in Manteca. It was responsible for getting outside residents to spend money in Manteca from retail to hotel rooms thanks to venues such as Big League Dreams and Bass Pro Shops that have highly visible freeway locations with easy access. The Route 120 Bypass also played a key role in Manteca snagging Great Wolf Resorts’ attention and their proposal to invest up to $200 million in what could ultimately be a 600-room hotel, 70,000-square-foot indoor water park, and 60,000-square-foot conference center. The 120 Bypass was built with ample room for expansion and widening of bridges across the freeway.
    (Source: Manteca/Ripon Bulletin, 12/31/2010)

    The Caltrans design for the original bypass was a route that alternated over a five-mile stretch from four lanes to three lanes to two lanes and back to three lanes. The result was deadly head-on crashes from unsafe passing maneuvers that quickly earned the Manteca 120 Bypass the dubious title of “Blood Alley.” During a period of several months, the bypass was averaging a fatality a week. The death toll in 18 months reached 32. Local leaders lobbied the state extensively to secure barriers down the center of the bypass to separate traffic and virtually eliminate head-on collisions.
    (Source: Manteca/Ripon Bulletin, 7/25/2020)

    Scott Parker (Sparker) on AAroads noted: When the alignment opened to traffic in spring 1980, it was configured as a "super two" with a few overpasses and a couple of interchanges. The overpasses were quite short, consisting of a single span over the roadway, which was a single lane in each direction with a double-yellow line down the center (this preceded the later prevalence of K-rails). The scaling down of Route 120 was one of the actions taken by Caltrans under Adriana Gianturco, who openly preferred to provide as few amenities to the driving public as possible to discourage private automobile usage. In the mid-1980's, after Gianturco was out of office, the existing single carriageway was widened to provide an alternating passing lane to accommodate the high volume of truck traffic on that facility. When the decision was made to expand the highway to a full 2+2 freeway, the crossing single-span overpasses had to be razed because there wasn't room to place twin carriageways through them; they were replaced with conventional CA-standard overpasses with a supporting bent in the median. The very wide 3-lane carriageway that preceded the freeway upgrade can still be seen today as an extra-wide inner shoulder on the EB lanes of the current freeway.
    (Source: Scott Parker (Sparker) on AAroads, "Re: CA 120 Freeway; a legacy of US 99W, US 48 and US 50", 3/7/2019)

    A 1992 San Joaquin county planning document noted that Route 120 was primarily a two-lane facility, portions of which were a freeway and portions of which were a conventional highway. The Western segment between I-5 and Route 99, had the greatest traffic volumes, ranging from 18,000 to 24,500 in 1987. Traffic conditions, at that time, were at a level "F" level of service. In July 1992, the three "priority" projects identified in the Council of Governments (COG) Regional Transportation Improvement Plan (RTIP) included the following:
    (Source: San Joaquin COG Community Development Plan, Volume III, Chapter II.C (Transportation), June 1992)

    • (#1A) Upgrading the Route 120 connector between I-5 and Route 99 (The Manteca Bypass) to a full four lanes;
    • (#1B) Constructing a new two lane Route 120 expressway between Route 99 and the Stanislaus County line (the Escalon/Oakdale Bypass)

    It noted that the Manteca Bypass project would widen the existing 3-lane facility to 4-lanes, as well as constructing a new interchange at Union. The Escalone Bypass would be an extension of the Manteca Bypass on a new alignment S of the existing Route 120. Under a joint agreement between the San Joaquin COG and the Stanislaus County Association of Area Governments, the agencies advocate funding to complete the Route 120 improvements, consisting of a bypass constructed around the City of Oakdale. The new Manteca Bypass facility will require a major reconstruction of the existing Route 99/Manteca Bypass interchange. In the 2010 COG model, the Escalon Bypass is assumed to be a 2-lane expressway rather than a freeway. A single grade separation is assumed at Austin Road.

    The report also notes that the most significant freeway and State highway projects, which may be required to accomodate planned growth over the twenty year period, in addition to the projects identified in the seven year RTIP, included:

    • The additional widening of Route 120 from four to six lanes (Manteca Bypass), and from two to four lanes (Escalon Bypass)

    The Manteca Unified School District put up some money toward making the Union Road crossing possible. The state originally only wanted to provide crossings that were actually interchanges at Airport Way and Main Street. The state didn’t favor Union Road being extended across the freeway. The school district was concerned about bus service to areas south of the Route 120 Bypass. It wasn’t until 1995 that the Union Road overcrossing was turned into a full blown interchange.
    (Source: Manteca/Ripon Bulletin, 12/31/2010)

    See the STATUS section below for information on safety improvements being made to the bypass.

    Construction of the Don Pedro Reservoir changed the path of Route 120. In 1962, a public hearing was held in Sonora to discuss the relocation of Route 120/LRN 40 from Yosemite Junction to Groveland due to the proposed expansion of the Don Pedro Reservoir. By 1963, an adopted realignment corridor of Route 120 and Route 49 between Yosemite Junction-Moccasin had been selected in anticipation of the Don Pedro Reservoir being expanded. In 1964, a freeway alignment of Route 120 was announced from the top of the Priest Grades eastward bypassing Big Oak Flat and Groveland.  The project zone map depicts a freeway replacement of New Priest Grade Road as already having a previously adopted (likely in 1962).  The planned Priest Grade Freeway appears to dip south from Priest Station unlike the two existing Priest Grades. The 1967 DOH Map displays the planned realignment of Route 120 around the Priest Grades that would be above the waters of the planned expansion of the Don Pedro Reservoir.  Construction on the expansion of Don Pedro Dam began in August 1967 and was formally dedicated upon completion during May 1971.  Route 120 and Route 49 were realigned in the Chinese Camp-Moccasin corridor to a new two-lane expressway.  Ultimately the Route 120 freeway bypasses of the Priest Grades, Big Oak Flat and Groveland were never constructed. 
    (Source: Gribblenation Blog (Tom Fearer), "California State Route 120/New Priest Grade Road and Old Priest Grade Road", July 2022)

    Pre 1964 Signage History Pre 1964 Signage History

    This segment was signed as Route 120 in the initial signage of state routes in 1934 (Jct. US 99 at Manteca to Jct. Route 168 (later renumbered as US 6) at Benton, via Groveland and through Yosemite National Park). Although the 1934 definition map shows the line of Route 120 continuing to Mossdale, it wasn't in the published definition. 

    The portion between Mossdale and Oakdale was LRN 66. The future LRN 66 was first defined in 1921 by Chapter 845, which called for the transfer and conveyance to the state of “... that certain road situated in the county of San Joaquin ... to wit: Beginning at a point on the W boundary of the city of Manteca, and on the township line between T1S and T2S, R7E, Mt Diablo base and meridian, and running thence W on the township line to the W side of the Southern Pacific RR RoW to the state highway at the Mossdale School...” In 1933, the route was extended from the Southern Pacific Highway (which was roughly [LRN 4]) near Manteca to [LRN 13] near Oakdale. In 1935, it was captured into the state highway code as: (1) [LRN 5] near Mossdale School to [LRN 4] at Manteca; (2) [LRN 4] near Manteca to [LRN 13] near Oakdale

    Out of Oakdale to Yosemite Junction (which, at the time, was the junction with signed Route 49, it was LRN 13. Future LRN 13 started in 1901 was the road from Sonora to Bridgeport. It was extended from Sonora to Salida in the 1909 bond act. In 1935, the portion relevant to this discussion was codified into the highway code as: From [LRN 4] at Salida to [LRN 23] at Long Barn. This routing included the portion from Oakdale to Yosemite Junction. This portion was signed as Route 120, and after 1961, was cosigned with Route 108.

    LRN 13 continued NE from Yosemite Junction as Route 49 (and after 1958, cosigned Route 49 / Route 108). LRN 40 started at Yosemite Junction and ran SE through Chinese Camp down to Moccasin (where LRN 65/Route 49 continued S), then E to US 395. Future LRN 40 was first defined in 1899 by Chapter 26, which called for "...locating and constructing a free wagon road from the Mono Lake Basin to and connecting with a wagon road called the "Tioga Road" and near the "Tioga Mine"..."

    In 1915, Chapter 306 and Chapter 396 extended the LRN 40 further. Chapter 306 added "that portion of the Great Sierra Wagon Road, better known as the Tioga Road, lying without the boundary of Yosemite National Park, providing that the portion within the park is taken over by the federal government." Chapter 396 added "that certain toll road in Tuolumne and Mariposa counties known as the Big Oak Flat and Yosemite Toll Road beginning at a point near the former location of Jack Bell Sawmill in Tuolumne County and extending thence in an E-ly direction through a portion of Mariposa County at Hamilton Station, thence again into Tuolumne County, past the Hearden Ranch, Crocker Station, Crane Flat, and Gin Flat to the boundary line of the original Yosemite Grant near Cascade Creek"

    The 1915 extension of LRN 40 included the New Priest Grade Road, which had been completed in 1913. New Priest Grade Road had its origins in the Grizzly Gulch Trail—a haggard foot trail on the southern flank of Grizzly Gulch dating back to the early California Gold Rush.  Travelers ascending the Grizzly Gulch Trail would pass by what ultimately become Priest Station, which had been established in 1849 as a mining supply store. A ferry crossing across the Tuolumne River across what is now known as Murderer's Gulch was developed by Joseph Ward during 1850.  Wards Ferry included a new highway which provided direct access between Sonora and the Big Oak Flat-Groveland area. In 1853, the Grizzly Gulch Trail was declared a public highway by Tuolumne County. By 1859 a new highway was completed along the southern flank of Grizzly Gulch as a franchise toll road.  This highway at the time was known as the Grizzly Gulch Wagon Road and provided direct access from Jacksonville to the Big Oak Flat-Groveland area.  The Grizzly Gulch Wagon Road proved not to be as popular as Wards Ferry from Sonora due to the high gradients and longer distance traveled (a maximum gradient of 17-20%; one of the steepest roadways in the western Sierra Nevada Mountains).  In time the Grizzly Gulch Wagon Road would come to be known as the Priest Grade or Old Priest Grade. Construction of New Priest Grade Road starting in 1912 and was completed in 1913 as a replacement for what is now Old Priest Grade Road.  New Priest Grade Road features a sustained gradient slightly exceeding 5% but is two and a half times longer than Old Priest Grade Road. By 1918, New Priest Grade Road appeared as part of LRN 40 on the 1918 California Highway Commission Map as a special appropriations road. It was modernized to state highway standards in 1927, including sufficient width to allow 2-way traffic.
    (Source: Gribblenation Blog (Tom Fearer), "California State Route 120/New Priest Grade Road and Old Priest Grade Road", July 2022)

    In 1917, Chapter 704 extended the route through an act " extend the Mono Lake Basin state road E-ly to a junction with the county road from Mono Lake Post Office to Mono Mills" In 1933, it was extended further, from [LRN 23] near Mono Lake to [LRN 76] near Benton Station. This led to the 1935 codification as (1) [LRN 13] to [LRN 23] near Mono Lake via Big Oak Flat, Buck Meadows, and Tioga Mine, excluding the portion of [LRN 40] lying within the boundaries of Yosemite National Park; (2) [LRN 23] near Mono Lake to [LRN 76] near Benton Station

    In 1934, when the initial Sign State Routes were announced, Route 120 was announced as being aligned from US 99 in Manteca to Route 168 near Benton.  Route 120 followed New Priest Grade Road, Big Oak Flat Road and Tioga Pass Road through Yosemite National Park over the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Outside of Yosemite National Park the crossing of the Sierra Nevada Mountains taken by Route 120 comprised of components of LRN 40
    (Source: Gribblenation Blog (Tom Fearer), "California State Route 120/New Priest Grade Road and Old Priest Grade Road", July 2022)

    Currently, Route 120 enters Yosemite National Park in Tuolumne County via the modern Big Oak Flat Road. Originally Route 120 entered Yosemite National Park via the Old Tioga Pass Road and Route 140 entered via the Old Big Oak Flat Road. The Big Oak Flat Road is the second oldest highway into Yosemite just behind the Old Coulterville Road. Much of the alignment of Route 120 follows the path set out by the Big Oak Flat Road. Details on the history of the entrance into Yosemite and the changes in routing may be found in the Gribblenation Blog "Old California State Route 140 and California State Route 120 entrances to Yosemite National Park".
    (Source: Gribblenation Blog "Old California State Route 140 and California State Route 120 entrances to Yosemite National Park")

    Tom Fearer on AAroads notes that the alignment of Tioga Pass Road used to be very different in the early days of the state highway system. Route 120 took a turn on what is now Evergreen Road to Aspen Valley Road which used to be the original routing of Tioga Pass Road. Route 140 from Evergreen Road used the modern alignment of Route 120 to Yosemite National Park. The alignments can be seen very easily on the 1935 Tuolumne County Map. Tioga Pass Road originally traversed Aspen Valley way north of the modern road where it met up with the modern alignment of the road via White Wolf Road. Sometime between 1942 and 1944, Tioga Pass Road was moved to the modern realignment which resulted to changes to Route 120 and Route 140. Route 140 was cut back to the El Portal Entrance of Yosemite on the Merced River while Route 120 was rerouted off of Evergreen Road onto Big Oak Flat Road where Route 120 enters Yosemite today. The changes are reflected on the 1954 and 1955 state highway maps.
    (Source: Tom Fearer (Max R) on AARoads, "Re: Tioga Pass Road", 7/8/2017)

    US Highway Shield During 1935,the Division of Highways submitted a proposal to extend US 6 into California.  A June 1935 sketch map from the Division of Highways shows US 6 with two proposed alignments in California: (1) US 6 enters California via Route 168 near Benton, terminating to the south at Long Beach by way of Owens Valley and Los Angeles (this alignment was a violation of the even numbering intended to denote a US Route with a general east/west orientation); (2) US 6 entering California via Route 168 to Benton, all of Route 120 (including Tioga Pass Road, much of the Big Oak Flat Road and New Priest Grade Road) west to US 50, US 50 over Altamont Pass to Hayward, LRN 105 from Hayward to the original 1929 San Mateo-Hayward Bridge, west over San Francisco Bay via the 1929 San Mateo-Hayward Bridge and north via multiplex of US 101 into downtown San Francisco (this alignment to San Francisco via Tioga Pass would have maintained the east/west orientation).  US 6 was approved to be extended to Long Beach on February 8, 1937, by the American Association of State Highway Officials Executive Committee. 
    (Source: Gribblenation Blog (Tom Fearer), "California State Route 120/New Priest Grade Road and Old Priest Grade Road", July 2022)

    Status Status

    I-5 to Manteca (Route 99)

    As of 1995, the section from I-5 near Mossdale to the junction with Route 99 (~ SJ R0.67 to SJ T6.618) is a four-lane freeway.

    McKinley Ave Interchange (PM SJ R0.9/R3.3)

    McKinley Ave InterchangeThe SAFETEA-LU act, enacted in August 2005 as the reauthorization of TEA-21, provided the following expenditures on or near this route:

    • High Priority Project #1775: Construct full-access interchange at Route 120 and McKinley Avenue, with auxiliary lanes, Manteca. $3,200,000.

    The 2018 STIP, approved at the CTC March 2018 meeting, appears to show $12.3M allocated for construction from the 2016 STIP for PPNO 3046 Rt 120/McKinley Avenue, new interchange. In Manteca, at McKinley Avenue. Construct new interchange. This project will convert the existing grade separation at McKinley Road to a full interchange at Route 120 to provide an acceptable level of service (LOS) for the projected traffic volumes that would result from planned developments within the City of Manteca and surrounding interchanges. Local roads would not support the projected increase in demand under their existing conditions. The proposed project is needed to provide more efficient access to and from Route 120 and to accommodate traffic volumes for the planned growth areas in the vicinity of McKinley Avenue.

    The 2020 STIP, approved at the CTC March 2020 meeting, continues the programmed funding for PPNO 3046 "Rt 120/McKinley Avenue, new interchange"
    (Source: March 2020 CTC Agenda, Item 4.7, 2020 STIP Adopted 3/25/2020)

    In October 2020, the CTC approved for future consideration of funding the following project for which a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) has been completed: Route 120 in San Joaquin County. Construct a new interchange, freeway auxiliary lanes and connecting roadways on SR 120 in San Joaquin County. (10-SJ-120, PM 1.9/3.0) (PPNO 3046) (EA 0H890) This project is located in San Joaquin County on Route 120 at McKinley Avenue. This is a locally implemented project by the City of Manteca. This project will convert the existing grade separation at McKinley Road to a full interchange at Route 120, to provide an acceptable level of service for the projected traffic volumes that would result from planned developments within the City of Manteca and surrounding interchanges.  The proposed project is needed to provide more efficient access to and from Route 120 and to accommodate traffic volumes for the planned growth areas in the vicinity of McKinley Avenue. This is a STIP project and is funded with Regional Improvement Program (RIP) funds, Local funds, and Federal Demonstration funds. The total cost of the project is $44,705,000 of which $12,300,000 are RIP funds. Construction funds were programmed in 2019-20 and a time extension was approved by the Commission until February 2022, for a total of $12,300,000 RIP funds. The scope, as described for the preferred alternative, is consistent with the project scope programmed by the Commission in the STIP.
    (Source: October 2020 CTC Agenda, Agenda Item 2.2c.(1))

    In March 2021, it was reported that the interchange at McKinley Avenue along the Route 120 Bypass was expected to be in place by the summer of 2023. There are just a few issues preventing the city from going to bid and breaking ground on the project that has been in the making for more than a decade. One of those issues is the need for PG&E to relocate power poles. Unlike the Union Road/Route 120 Bypass, where PG&E had to relocate major transmission lines and declined to split the $3 million tab, the lines involved are distribution lines that serve homes. The McKinley Avenue interchange is needed for a variety of reasons.
    (Source: Manteca/Ripon Bulletin, 3/17/2021)

    1. There are over 3,000 homes already approved in the southwest portion of the city whose residents will jam the Airport Way interchange if McKinley is not built;
    2. It is expected to serve as a truck route to take much of the truck traffic off Airport Way future business parks will create;
    3. Given it almost straddles the city limits between Lathrop and Manteca it will be key in moving some of the future traffic from the Lathrop Gateway project now in its initial phase of construction of more than 5 million square feet of business park space. The project is also served by the Yosemite Avenue interchange just east of the Route 120 Bypass interchange with I-5.
    4. The interchange needs to be in place as a Caltrans condition for Great Wolf adding 200 more rooms at their 500-roon indoor waterpark resort.
    5. It is crucial for City of Manteca plans to develop roughly 100 acres of former wastewater treatment plant land into a family entertainment zone bookended by Great Wolf and Big League Dreams.
    6. It will take some pressure in the short-term off of Airport Way traffic especially that headed for Costco and the Stadium Retail Center.

    In January 2022, the CTC approved the following allocation for a locally-funded STIP project: $12,300,000 for the McKinley Avenue/Route 120 Interchange project, on the State Highway System (10-SJ-120 R0.9/R3.3), in San Joaquin County. (PPNO 3046). 10-SJ-120 R2.0/R2.6 R0.9/R3.3. PPNO 10-3046; ProjID 1012000159; EA 0H890. McKinley Avenue/State Route 120 Interchange. Route 120 In Manteca, at McKinley Avenue.  Construct new interchange.
    (Source: January 2022 CTC Agenda, Agenda Item 2.5c.(2))

    In late 2010, it was noted that the mayor of Manteca believes an effort may have to get underway in the next four years to push for adding a third lane in each direction. The biggest roadblock is the need to have two transition lanes onto southbound Route 99 to ease the daily commute slowdown. That could happen once the city is able to secure a new interchange on Route 99 south of Austin Road (99 SJ 4.895). Such a move would eliminate the on and off ramps at Austin Road.
    (Source: Manteca/Ripon Bulletin, 12/31/2010)

    Union Road DDI Project (SJ R4.321)

    In June 2019, it was reported that despite the claims of Ceres on Route 99 to have the first DDI (Diverging Diamond Interchange), that honor may go to Route 120 at Union Road. The City of Manteca recently broke ground on construction of California’s first Diverging Diamond Interchange, at Route 120 and Union Road. The Diverging Diamond Interchange, commonly abbreviated DDI, is a cutting-edge design that reduces conflict points between vehicles and moves traffic more efficiently through the interchange. DDIs have been gaining popularity throughout the United States since the early 2000s, but until now, one had not been constructed in California. The DDI is unique in that traffic on the freeway overpass is shifted to the left side of the road, before being shifted back to the right. Construction of the DDI at Route120 and Union Road will modify the existing interchange to add additional traffic capacity and improve operations. As the prime consultant in charge of design of the modification, Mark Thomas worked closely with the City of Manteca and Caltrans to gain project approval for the DDI. Caltrans guidelines and approval processes were being developed as design work on Route 120/Union Road Interchange progressed, so we partnered with Caltrans District 10 and Headquarters to gain acceptance for the design. Union Road is a key crossing of Route 120 in the City’s bicycle master plan, and there is not currently any sidewalk or bike path through the area. The new Class I path will provide a 12-foot wide grade-separated trail that eliminates all bicycle/vehicle conflict points within the interchange to provide safe and efficient passage for bicycles and pedestrians.
    (Source: Mark Thomas, 6/25/2019; UnionRoad Project Page)\

    In November 2020, it was reported that  California's first diverging diamond interchange (DDI) has finally debuted in Manteca.
    (Source: ABC 10, 11/19/2020)

    Route 120 Bypass Safety Improvements (SJ R4.321 to SJ T6.699)

    In September 2020, it was reported that there are increasing concerns about safety along the Route 120 Bypass approaching Route 99, especially for drivers heading south toward Ripon and Modesto. This is leading Caltrans to set in motion the first phase of a $131.5 million project at the intersection of the Route 120 Bypass and Route 99  to improve vehicle movements and capacity. The project, expected to break ground in late 2021, won’t be in place until 2023. Before then, Caltrans is taking steps aimed at reducing the potential for carnage until two lanes are in place for eastbound Route 120 heading toward Modesto. Interim improvements include placement of lane delineators and route shields on the pavement for EB Route 120 traffic as it approaches the Route 99 interchange. This is in addition to the auxiliary lanes that will open in November 2020 between the Main Street, Union Road, and Airport Way interchanges that are part of Manteca’s $28.4 million diverging diamond interchange at Union Road. The new safety measures are the outgrowth of a 120 Bypass safety committee working with Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol. In 2019. in a bid to improve safety and discourage last-minute lane changes, Caltrans installed 2,700 feet of wider, 8-inch, double-white striped lane delineation from just east of the Main Street overcrossing to the southbound Route 99 connector ramp. Crossing over double-white stripes is a traffic violation. Stay In Lane signs were installed on both shoulders, just west of Van Ryn Avenue bridge, to help reduce the frequency of vehicles queue-jumping for southbound Route 99 and sideswipe collisions. Watch For Stopped Vehicle signs were also installed on both shoulders, just west of the Main Street overcrossing, to help reduce the number of rear-end collisions. Those improvements were made after Caltrans installed advisory signs on the Airport Way and Union Road  overcrossing advising motorists of the upcoming lane splits.
    (Source: Manteca/Ripon Bulletin, 9/4/2020)

    The first phase of the projected interchange improvements in 2021 involve:
    (Source: Manteca/Ripon Bulletin, 9/4/2020)

    • Widening the eastbound 120 Bypass to southbound 120 Bypass from one to two lanes.
    • Removing the Austin Road overcrossing and replacing it with a longer span that ultimately would allow eight freeway lanes plus auxiliary lanes on Route 99. The replacement bridge would span the Union Pacific Railroad tracks as well eliminating the at-grade crossing on Austin Road.
    • Adding a new connector road Austin Road to East Woodward Avenue. The existing railroad crossing on East Woodard Avenue would be modified to confirm with the new connector road and provide access to Moffat Boulevard.
    • Modifying the existing northbound Austin Road exit ramp to conform to the higher overcrossing profile of the replacement bridge.
    • Closing the northbound onramp and the southbound off-ramp for Route 99 at Austin Road. The length of the closure is currently estimated at 9 years. Reopening of the replacement ramps will depend on the availability of funding for the third phase.

    Route 99/Route 120 Connector Improvements near Manteca (10-SJ-120 PM T6.624/6.295)

    Rte 99 Rte 120 Interchange ImprovementsThe 2018 STIP, approved at the CTC March 2018 meeting, appears to allocate $13.550 for PPNO 3162, the Route 99/Route 120 Connector near Manteca (~ SJ 5.722)

    In October 2019, the CTC had on its agenda for future consideration of funding the following project: 10-SJ-99 PM 3.1/6.2 Route 99 and Route 120 in San Joaquin County. Construct roadway and interchange improvements on Route 99 at Route 120 near the city of Manteca in San Joaquin County. (PPNO 3162, Proj ID 1016000038 EA 1E740). This project is located near the eastern/southeastern border of the City of Manteca on Route 99/Route 120 in San Joaquin County. This project proposes to construct improvements to the Route 99/Route 120 interchange. The project is divided into three phases. The purpose is to reduce traffic congestion and improve operations of Route 99 with the Route 120 and Austin Road interchanges. Phase 1A of this project is currently programmed in the 2018 STIP with $13.6 million in Regional Improvement Program funds and $3.4 million in Senate Bill 1 Local Partnership Program funds for Construction (capital and support) and Right-of-Way (capital and support). Phase 1A is currently not fully funded, but it is a candidate for the 2020 SHOPP. The total cost estimate for this project is $115.3 million which includes all three phases. Construction is estimated to begin in Fiscal Year 2020-21. The scope, as described for the preferred alternative, is consistent with the project scope programmed by the Commission in the 2018 STIP.
    (Source: October 2019 CTC Agenda, Agenda Item 2.2c.(1))

    Also in October 2019, the CTC approved an allocation of $3,408,000 for the SB 1 Local Partnership Program (LPP) (Formulaic) Route 99/Route 120 Connector Project (PPNO 3162). Add new auxiliary lanes, upgrade existing bridges, relocate an at-grade railroad crossing, intersections, construct additional connector lanes, ramp upgrades, and new signals/lighting. Due to funding constraints, the Project will be constructed in three phases. The initial phase will construct a second lane on the eastbound Route 120 to southbound Route 99 connector and auxiliary lanes, which will require the partial closure of the Austin Road/Route 99 interchange. The second phase will widen the connector from northbound Route 99 to westbound Route 120 to two lanes an widen Route 120 from four lanes to six between Main Street and SR 99. The third phase will construct braided ramps to the Austin Road interchange to restore full access.
    (Source: October 2019 CTC Agenda, Agenda Item 2.5s.(1))

    The 2020 STIP, approved at the March 2020 CTC meeting, made a number of adjustments related to this:
    (Source: March 2020 CTC Agenda, Item 4.7, 2020 STIP Adopted 3/25/2020)

    PPNO Project Prior 20-21 21-22 22-23 23-24 24-25
    3162 Rt 99/120 Connector 3,408K 10,142K 0 0 0
    3162 Rt 99/120 Connector -3,408K -10,142K 0 0 0 0
    3162A Rt 99/120 Connector, Phase 1A 3,408K 0 10,142K 0 0 0
    3162B Rt 99/120 Connector, Phase 1B 0 0 0 0 7,893K 0

    In June 2022, the Draft 2022 Program Environmental Impact Report for the Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (RTP/SCS) was released. It included the following projects:
    (Source: Draft Program EIR for the RTP/SCS, June 2022)

    • CT-1: SR 99/120 Connector Project: Phase 1A. Widen the eastbound Route 120 to southbound Route 99 connector ramp from one-lane to two-lanes; Remove the Austin Road overcrossing and replace with a new 4 lane structure spanning Route 99 and UPRR; Add a new connecting road from Austin Road to Woodward Ave and Moffat Blvd and modify the existing UPRR gated crossing at Woodward  Ave. Temporarily close the Austin Road northbound entrance and southbound exit ramps, resulting in a partial interchange.
    • CT-8: SR-99/120 Connector Project: Phase 1B. Widen the northbound Route 99 to westbound Route 120 connector ramp from one-lane to two-lanes; Add an auxiliary lane in the existing median of westbound Route 120 from Main Street to Route 99; Convert the existing Route 99/Route 120 separation structure to two lanes and construct a new separation structure to serve the eastbound Route 120 to northbound Route 99 connector ramp.
    • CT-12: SR 99/120 Connector Project: Phase 1C. Add braided off ramps from Route 99 and Route 120 to Austin Road; Add loop on ramp from Austin Road to northbound Route 99 and to westbound Route 120; Add auxiliary lane on eastbound Route 120 from Main Street to SR 99; Add an auxiliary lane in each direction on Route 99 from Route 120 to approximately 1.7 mile south of Austin Road and relocate the frontage road.

    Manteca (Route 99) to Adela

    In May 2012, the CTC authorized relinquishment of right of way in the city of Manteca along Route 120 on Austin Road (~ SJ 6.843), consisting of a collateral facility.

    French Camp Road Roundabout Intersection Improvements (10-San Joaquin-120 PM 11.6)

    In March 2020, the CTC amended the following project into the 2018 SHOPP: 10-SJ-120 11.6 PPNO 3477 ProjID 1019000084 EA 1K460 Route 120 near Manteca, at French Camp Road. Construct roundabout. Total cost: $16,204K. BC 12/16/2024. Construction and R/W acquisition not yet programmed. The CTC also approved the following financial allocation: 10-SJ-120 PM 11.6. PPNO 3477. ProjID 1019000084. EA 1K460. Route 120 near Manteca, at French Camp Road. Construct roundabout. (Concurrent Amendment under SHOPP Amendment 18H-015; March 2020.)  Financial allocation: PA&ED $1,660,000
    (Source: March 2020 CTC Agenda, Agenda Item 2.1a.(1a) #28, 2.5b.(2a) #31)

    The 2020 SHOPP, approved in May 2020, included the following Collision Reduction item of interest (carried over from the 2018 SHOPP): 10-San Joaquin-120 PM 11.6 PPNO 3477 Proj ID 1019000084 EA 1K460. Route 120 near Manteca, at French Camp Road. Construct roundabout. Programmed in FY23-24, with construction scheduled to start in December 2024. Total project cost is $16,204K, with $10,536K being capital (const and right of way) and $5,668K being support (engineering, environmental, etc.).
    (Source: 2020 Approved SHOPP a/o May 2020)

    In August 2021, the CTC approved the following preconstruction allocation: 10-SJ-120 11.6. PPNO 10-3477; ProjID 1019000084; EA 1K460, Route 120 Near Manteca, at French Camp Road. Construct roundabout. Allocation: PS&E $1,598,000  R/W Sup $591,000 ($350,000 programmed).
    (Source: August 2021 CTC Agenda, Agenda Item 2.5b.(2a) #22)

    In December 2021, the CTC approved the following SHOPP amendment: 10-SJ-120 PM 11.6. PPNO 10-3477; ProjID 1019000084; EA 1K460. Route 120 Near Manteca, at French Camp Road. Construct roundabout. Construct signalized intersection. Note: Update description due to change in intersection safety improvement from roundabout to signalized intersection. Update to performance measure is due to change in preferred alternative. Reduction in right of way capital is due to less parcels and fewer utility relocations needed based on signalized intersection.  Reduce construction capital due to lower cost to build a signalized intersection. Allocation changes ($1,000s): R/W Cap $2,453 ⇒ $700; Const Cap $8,083 ⇒ $7,699.
    (Source: December 2021 CTC Agenda, Agenda Item 2.1a.(1d) #38)

    In September 2012, the CTC vacated right of way in the city of Escalon along Route 120 at Plaza Avenue (~ SJ R16.739), consisting of superseded highway right of way no longer needed for State highway purposes. The City of Escalon was given a 90-day notice of intent to vacate, without protesting such action.

    In June 2008, the CTC relinquished right of way in the city of Escalon, on McHenry Avenue/Escalon Bellota Road, and Yosemite Avenue (~ SJ R16.754 to SJ R16.84), consisting of superseded highway and reconstructed and relocated city streets.

    Adela to Chinese Camp

    In November 2002, the CTC began exploration of construction of an expressway near Oakdale. In December 2002, the CTC considered a route adoption for a freeway location from 0.1 mi W of Valley Home Road to 2.8 mi E of Lancaster Road (10-STA-120 PM 3.0/R13.3).

    Oakdale Bypass

    Rte 120 Recission in OakdaleIn January 2012 (and again in April 2012), the CTC approved a notice of consideration to rescind a freeway adoption (the actual recission occured in May 2013). As background, in the early 2000s, a consensus was reached to construct a freeway on a new alignment along Route 120 to bypass the City of Oakdale, also known as the Oakdale Bypass/Expressway. On December 11, 2002, the Commission adopted the current Route 120 corridor. Numerous parcels, but not all, were purchased to obtain the necessary right of way for the adopted Route 120 Oakdale Bypass. Since that time, a lack of funding and changing traffic patterns have resulted in a community and Department agreement to drop the pursuit of the Oakdale Bypass in favor of an alternative route. Consequently, the Department is proposing to rescind the Route 120 freeway route adoption, from Valley Home Road to a point approximately 2.8 miles east of Lancaster Road in Stanislaus County. Route 120 and Route 108 are the main routes to the fast growing Tuolumne County, carrying a adediverse mixture of commercial, agricultural, recreational, commuter, truck and local traffic. Traffic on both Route 120 and Route 108 into and through Oakdale has been growing for several decades which led to a growing traffic congestion problem. The Department and the local community have been struggling to address it for many years. Congestion is most severe on weekends due to recreational traffic traveling to Yosemite National Park, the Jamestown and Sonora areas, and points east. The elevated interregional traffic demand often conflicts with local demand resulting in congestion, increased noise and air pollution. The area most severely affected is at the junction of Route 120 and Route 108 (Yosemite Avenue and F Street) in downtown Oakdale where the level of service in 2001 was classified as “F”, representing heavily congested traffic with long delays. The level of service was projected to continue to degrade to „very high delays‟ by the year 2020 in the absence of any system improvements.

    North County ConnectorIn 1990, a Value Engineering study for the Route 120 Oakdale Bypass project identified a need to further study the development of a Route 108 southern bypass as well as the need for the Route 120 Oakdale Bypass itself. The Department and local entities identified the preferred alternative for the Oakdale Bypass as a northern corridor expressway starting across the Stanislaus River near Twenty Six Mile Road and ending eight miles east of Oakdale. The Route 120 Oakdale Bypass was adopted by sthe Commission in 2002. During this same time period, changing traffic patterns in Stanislaus County were fostering a growing realization that a southern bypass of Riverbank and Oakdale (i.e. the NCC) was in critical need and should perhaps be given a higher priority than the northern Oakdale Bypass. As a result, StanCOG, the Cities of Modesto, Riverbank, and Oakdale, and the County of Stanislaus identified the NCC as a priority corridor. In 2007, following several years of project delay due to inadequate funding of the Oakdale Bypass, the Commission redirected the Oakdale Bypass project Interregional Transportation Improvement Program (ITIP) funds under the authority of the resolution approving the 2006 State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) Augmentation, with the understanding these funds would be restored to a viable replacement project in the future. In May 2008, the Commission deleted all programming from the Oakdale Bypass project under the authority of Resolution G-08-08 approving the 2008 STIP adoption and recognizing the NCC project as the viable replacement project. In May 2010, the Commission approved the Route Adoption of the NCC Route 108 East under authority of Resolution HRA 10-02 Commiand HRA 10-03.

    North County Corridor (~ 10-STA-120 PM 6.9-11.6)

    [108 Oakdale]In May 2010, the CTC approved for future consideration of funding a project in Stanislaus County that would study corridor options for a future alignment of Route 108 near the city of Oakdale. There is no construction for this project because it is for route adoption only. Once the route adoption is approved by the Commission, and funding becomes available, the Stanislaus Council of Governments and the Department will conduct further environmental studies to identify a roadway alignment within the selected corridor. The construction of the new roadway is anticipated to occur in Fiscal Year (FY) 2025. Conceptual level cost estimates to build a new roadway range from $600 to $800 million (FY 2009 costs), and $1.3 to $1.5 billion (FY 2030 costs). It is expected that the future project, however, will have potential impacts to land use, farmlands, cultural resources, biological resources, relocations, hazardous waste, water quality, paleontology, and air quality.

    Specifically, the proposal is to modify the adopted route for Route 108 in Stanislaus County, in the vicinity of the cities of Modesto, Riverbank, and Oakdale. The ultimate facility is planned as a multi-lane freeway/expressway corridor, approximately 18 miles long. A Project Report was approved on April 13, 2010. An Environmental Impact Report was prepared for California Environmental Quality Act and the document was approved on April 13, 2010. This 18 mile long project, referred to as the North County Corridor (NCC) Route 108 East Route Adoption, will bypass the cities of Riverbank and Oakdale, improve interregional system connectivity, and improve regional traffic operations.

    Route 108 is generally classified as a minor arterial through most of the project limits except for sections through the cities of Riverbank and Oakdale that are classified as principal arterial. Existing Route 108 functions as a “main street” and is predominantly a two-lane undivided conventional facility. Between the intersection of Route 108 (McHenry Avenue)/SR 219 (Kiernan Avenue) and the intersection of Route 108/Route 120 with Lancaster Road, Route 108 is encumbered by 83 public street intersections and many private driveways with direct access onto Route 108. It is highly congested during peak travel times and these conditions are expected to worsen as traffic volumes on Route 108 increase in the foreseeable future. Increasing levels of traffic on both Route 120 and Route 108 into and through the City of Oakdale have led to a growing traffic congestion problem that the Department and the local community have been addressing for over five decades. Traffic on Route 108 includes a combination of commuter, local commerce, goods movement, agricultural and farm operations, and a large component of interregional recreational traffic. This elevated interregional traffic demand often conflicts with local traffic demand resulting in congestion, increased noise and air pollution. Route 108 provides direct access to local residences, farms, and other community facilities along its route but also travels through the busy downtown areas of Oakdale and Riverbank. Congestion is most severe during weekends due to recreational traffic traveling to Yosemite National Park, and to the Jamestown and Sonora areas. Weekdays can also be very congested due to the heavy commute traffic. The area most severely affected by congestion is at the junction of Route 108 and Route 120 (Yosemite Avenue) in downtown Oakdale where the level of service (LOS) in 2001 was classified as “F”, representing heavily congested traffic with long delays. These conditions are expected to worsen over time as development continues and traffic volumes increase. The LOS is projected to degrade to “very high delays” by the year 2020 in the absence of any system improvement.

    North County ConnectorThe ultimate facility is planned as a multi-lane freeway, approximately ten miles long, from Route 219 and McHenry Avenue to just east of Albers Road and as a multi-lane controlled access highway for the remaining eight miles until it connects with Route 120, approximately six miles east of the City of Oakdale. The freeway segment will serve the urban areas of Modesto, Riverbank, and Oakdale. The controlled access highway segment is planned for the rural area of Stanislaus County south-east of Oakdale. The route adoptions will be executed as two concurrent CTC actions on this month’s agenda (see also Resolution HRA 10-03). Although the North County Corridor encompasses a roadway facility between Route 99 and Route 120, the proposed State route adoption is only for the segment between Route 108 (McHenry Avenue) and Route 120. These limits are a result of discussions occurring June 2008 to February 2009 between State and local entities. A freeway adoption connecting to Route 99 was interfering with the development of a modification proposal at the Hammett Road/Route 99 interchange. The Project Study Report for that project has assumed Hammett would remain a local road and proposes a local type interchange at Route 99. The Department concurred to pursue evaluating the new NCC Route 108 East Route Adoption. This request is for the Freeway Route Adoption, and a separate request is being submitted for the Controlled Access Highway Route Adoption (Resolution HRA 10-03). These two route adoptions will allow for the execution of a freeway agreement and a controlled access highway agreement with Stanislaus County.

    Relinquishment of the existing Route 108 will occur after construction of the new bypass. Relinquishment will transfer the State’s right of way, title, and interest of the superseded section of Route 108 to the City of Oakdale, City of Riverbank, and Stanislaus County as depicted in the attached Route Adoption Map.

    Atlas vs LancasterIn September 2016, it was reported that one of the last remaining battles over potential paths for the future North County Corridor may be nearing an end, with momentum building for a tie-in with existing Route 108 east of Oakdale at Lancaster Road. Dozens of families in neighborhoods four miles to the west for months have protested the concept of a roundabout at Atlas Road, with the North County Corridor shooting south from that point and paralleling Stearns Road before skirting Oakdale and running between Riverbank and Modesto. Oakdale officials previously preferred the Atlas tie-in, thinking it might funnel cars near a future shopping center; however, the city has changed its mind and has adopted a resolution supporting the neighbor-preferred Lancaster option. The EIR should be released in January 2017. Controversy over the road’s western stretch, between Modesto and Riverbank, died down a few years ago as engineers focused on redoing Kiernan Avenue, with legitimate freeway interchanges at McHenry Avenue, Coffee and Oakdale roads, and Roselle Avenue. If Caltrans picks the Lancaster tie-in on the east end, the only unresolved choice would be south of Oakdale, with one option close to the south edge of the city and the other further south, largely focused on Claribel Road. Leaders of the county and three cities would review the draft environmental study around March, accepting input from the public and seeking consensus among each other. Caltrans’ final route selection could follow in early 2018.
    (Source: Modesto Bee, 9/22/2016)

    The August 2017 Draft EIR noted: The proposed project will connect Route 219 near Modesto to Route 120 near Oakdale. This environmental document analyzes the four Build Alternatives (1A, 1B, 2A, and 2B) and the NoBuild Alternative. The western end of all alternatives is at the Route 219 (Kiernan Avenue)/Tully Road intersection. The project is analyzed as three distinct segments for environmental evaluation purposes and explaining the proposed improvements. Segment 1 represents the more urbanized area; Segment 2 represents a transition from urbanized to rural area; and Segment 3 represents the rural foothill area.
    (Source: NCC DEIR August 2017)

    Rte 180 NCC AlternativesSegment 1 begins at the Route 219 Kiernan Avenue/Tully Road intersection, which is the western end of the project for all four alternatives. All of the Build Alternatives proceed along the same alignment, extending to the existing Claus Road/Claribel Road intersection near the southeast portion of the City of Riverbank and northeast portion of the City of Modesto’s future sphere of influence, including future areas projected to be incorporated into the City boundaries. The following interchange/intersection designs are common to all Build Alternatives for Segment 1: (◆) Tully Road/Route 219 (Kiernan Avenue) intersection will consist of a modified signalized at-grade intersection; (◆) Route 108 (McHenry Avenue)/Route 219, (Kiernan Avenue)/new Route 108, Coffee Road/new Route 108, Oakdale Road/new Route 108, and Roselle Avenue/new Route 108 will all consist of a proposed single-point urban interchange and separate-grade undercrossing structures; (◆) The Claus Road/new Route 108 signalized at-grade intersection will provide access from the new Route 108 facility east of Claus Road as well as the local road access to the City of Riverbank and future northeastern areas of the City of Modesto.

    Segment 2 is where the four similar alternatives separate into two different alignments (1A/1B and 2A/2B). In Segment 2, Alternatives 1A and 1B veer northeast from near the existing Claus Road/Claribel Road intersection and pass through the southern boundary of the City of Oakdale to just east of Albers Road, and Alternatives 2A and 2B continue to extend easterly along Claribel Road and veer northeastward past the intersection of Claribel Road/Bentley Road to just east of Albers Road. In Segment 2:

    • Alternative 1A veers northeast from the Claus Road intersection and crosses Langworth Road and Patterson Road while extending 3.2 miles northeast at an approximately 45-degree angle. Past the Lexington Road and Crane Road intersection, Alternative 1A overlies the existing Lexington Road and extends easterly to Albers Road. Within Segment 2, no private driveway access is proposed. From Albers Road, Alternative 1A splits into the other possible alignments to intersect Route 108/Route 120.
    • Improvements for Alternative 1B in Segment 2 are identical to those listed in Alternative 1A.
    • Alternative 2A continues east mostly along the existing Claribel Road alignment. Just east of the Bentley Road/Claribel Road intersection, Alternative 2A veers northeast and crosses Oakdale-Waterford Highway.
    • Improvements for Alternative 2B in Segment 2 are identical to those listed in Alternative 2A.

    In Segment 3, Alternatives 1A and 2A merge as similar alignments at the southern end of the City of Oakdale and continue on the same alignment to the proposed eastern end (A) at the new Route 108/Route 120 intersection just east of the City of Oakdale boundary. In Segment 3, Alternatives 1B and 2B merge as similar alignments north of the existing Warnerville Road/Emery Road intersection and continue on a northeasterly direction to the proposed other eastern end (B) at the new Route 108/Route 120 intersection west of the existing Route 120/Lancaster Road intersection. In Segment 3:

    • Alternative 1A begins near Warnerville Road west of South Stearns Road and the Sierra Railroad. Alternative 1A runs northward, parallel to South Stearns Road, before crossing over the Sierra Railroad west of the South Stearns Road and Sierra Road intersection. It curves eastward until it ultimately ends at the intersection with Route 120.
    • Alternative 1B begins near Warnerville Road, similar to Alternative 1A. But instead of turning north toward South Stearns Road, Alternative 1B continues northeast for 3.3 miles, and then crosses the Sierra Railroad with a grade-separated structure before turning northward toward Fogarty Road and its Route 108/Route 120 end, 1.5 miles east of the Route 108/Route 120 and Wamble Road intersection. The South Stearns Road intersection (east of Bendler Road and northeast of Oakdale Irrigation District South Main Canal) with the proposed North County Corridor alignment will consist of an at-grade intersection with two 12-foot-wide through lanes in each direction along the North County Corridor alignment. Fogarty Road will be elevated over the North County Corridor alignment with an overcrossing structure along its current alignment. A new local road intersection will cross the proposed North County Corridor alignment at approximately 5,000 feet south of the Route 108/Route 120 eastern end with an at-grade four-way roundabout. The roundabout will consist of one combination through/exit lane and one exit lane. The intersection of Route 108/Route 120 with the proposed North County Corridor alignment will consist of an at-grade three-way roundabout with one 12-foot-wide combination through/exit lane and one exit lane for all directions except along westbound Route 108/Route 120.
    • After crossing the Oakdale/Waterford Highway, Alternative 2 curves northeast as it crosses the Claribel Lateral Canal, then continues northward toward the direction of South Stearns Road and the Sierra Railroad. It ends at the intersection with Route 108/Route 120, approximately two-thirds of a mile east of the Route 108/Route 120 and South Stearns Road intersection.
    • Segment 3 of Alternative 2B shares the same design with Segment 3 of Alternative 1B intersections at North County Corridor/Fogarty Road, North County Corridor/New Local Access Road, and North County Corridor/Route 120. These three intersections are discussed under Alternative 1B Intersections. Other intersection designs unique to this alternative are the Smith Road intersection with the proposed North County Corridor alignment, which will consist of an at-grade intersection. The North County Corridor will be elevated over Warnerville Road with an undercrossing structure along the current alignment of Warnerville Road.

    In November 2018, the Stanislaus County Public Works Department noted that, on October 3, 2016, the Oakdale City Council passed a resolution of preliminary support for NCC Alternatives 1B and 2B. With the official release of the Draft EIR/EIS on August 9, 2017, City staff has had the opportunity to review the Draft EIR/EIS and believes that Alternative 1B should be the preferred alternative. At their September 18, 2017 meeting, the Oakdale City Council unanimously passed a resolution to send Caltrans an official comment letter stating the City’s preference for Alternative 1B. On October 24, 2017 City of Riverbank City Council took the same action for similar reasons. The Riverbank City Council unanimously passed a resolution adopting Alternative 1B as the City’s preferred North County Corridor route Alignment.
    (Source: Stanislaus County Public Works Presentation, 11/2018)

    In December 2018, it was reported that Federal highway officials approved a $20 million grant for the North County Corridor, a future expressway skirting Modesto, Riverbank and Oakdale in north Stanislaus County. The road is expected to cost $688 million and will require additional funding. State transportation officials are expected to pinpoint the exact route in early 2019, and construction could be a few years away. The project was one of only four in California drawing BUILD money, formerly known as TIGER grants; BUILD stands for Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development. The corridor will be a west-east facility from Route 108 (McHenry Avenue) north of the City of Modesto to Route 120 approximately six miles east of the City of Oakdale. This new roadway would be approximately 18 miles in length from a location on Route 219 (Kiernan Avenue) to a location on Route 120 approximately six miles east of the City of Oakdale. The project may be an entirely new roadway or incorporated into the existing roadway network and would serve as a bypass for the cities of Riverbank, Oakdale and Modesto. The North County Corridor Transportation Expressway Authority anticipates that the ultimate facility would be planned as a multi-lane, access-controlled expressway/freeway, with interchanges, at-grade intersections, grade-separated railroad crossings, irrigation district crossings, frontage roads, and local street alignments. Various roadway alignment alternatives will be considered. The proposed roadway would be built in existing unincorporated Stanislaus County. Funding for this phase of the project is being provided by regional transportation impact fees and the state funding that was once part of the cancelled state Oakdale Bypass project.
    (Source: Modesto Bee, 12/10/2018; NorthCounty Corridor Webpage)

    In June 2020, it was reported that the EIS for the Route 108 Modesto bypass expressway, the first phase of which extends from the Route 108/Route 219 junction north of Modesto to a terminus at present Route 108/Route 120 east of Oakdale, has been approved.  Stanislaus County has a corridor design simulator that follows the facility, which is being designed as a combination freeway/expressway, from west to east.  The routing has three roundabouts on the main expressway lanes (3+3 on the west end; 2+2 east of Riverbank), along with several interchanges at major arterials.  Two of these are multi-lane; the last one is at the eastern terminus as the connector to Route 120.  The expressway is designed to be upgradeable to full freeway (likely with bridges over the circles); also, in a future phase this corridor will follow Route 219 west to Route 99 near Salida.
    (Source: Scott Parker on AARoads, "Re: California", 6/11/2020)

    In December 2020, the CTC approved a route adoption and future consideration of funding for the following project for which a Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) has been completed: Route 108, Route 219, and Route 120 in Stanislaus County (10-Sta-108, PM 27.5/44.5 • 10-Sta-219, PM 3.7/4.8 • 10-Sta-120, PM 6.9/11.6).  Construct a new freeway east of the City of Oakdale in Stanislaus County. (PPNO 0228)  This project is located on Route 108, Route 219, and Route 120 in Stanislaus County, in the City of Modesto, City of Riverbank, and City of Oakdale, from 0.1 mile west of the Route 219 (Kiernan Avenue)/Tully Road Intersection in Stanislaus County to the new Route 108/Route 120 Junction east of the City of Oakdale. The purpose of this project is to reduce average daily traffic volumes and traffic congestion as well as accommodate anticipated future traffic on SR 108 and the surrounding regional transportation network. This project is not fully funded and the total project cost is $915,000,000. Construction is estimated to begin in 2023.
    (Source: December 2020 CTC Agenda, Agenda Item 2.2c.(1))

    Yosemite Junction (~TUO 12.101)

    In June 2015, it was reported that Tuolumne County transportation officials are proposed their own construction project preference to Caltrans proposed plans for improving safety and congestion problems at Yosemite Junction (where Route 108 and Route 120 meet). Caltrans has proposed two options; one involving a stop light and the other a roundabout. Both would include adding additional lanes in both directions on Route 108. The county is concerned about the limited site distance coming down the hill into the intersection. They are also concerned, for the eastbound traffic, that once past the intersection, must go directly up a steep grade with a single lane that widens to a passing lane farther up the highway. They would like to see the second lane start before the intersection so trucks can cue up there. They also suggested, if there is a light, it should be coordinated with the light at O’Byrnes Ferry Road and perhaps use technology to identify, when trucks are going in the eastbound direction, to hold the light green so they can keep their momentum going up the hill.
    (Source: MyMotherLode, 6/11/2015)

    In April 2019, it was reported that Caltrans was preparing a highway improvement project that will upgrade the junction of Route 108 and Route 120 at Yosemite Junction. Road construction starts in early May 2019, with the project expected to finish in August 2019. Caltrans will make roadway improvements and install a traffic signal, using a “High-T” intersection configuration. This is similar to a typical signalized intersection, except that westbound traffic on Route 108 would only be forced to stop when a pedestrian or cyclist is crossing. Because few pedestrians are anticipated and bicycle volumes are low at this location, the “High-T” signal for these westbound vehicles will be green most of the time. The signal will have a greater impact for vehicles on westbound Route 108 turning left onto Route 120, and vehicles on eastbound Route 120. Currently, vehicles turning left at the intersection have to wait for a suitable pause in traffic before turning. There are times traffic is so intense that CHP directs vehicles through the intersection. Caltrans’ project also will benefit motorists approaching the three-way intersection from westbound Route 120 – a busy route, as Route 120 delivers visitors to and from Yosemite National Park and foothill towns that dot the highway. After the project is completed, a traffic signal will provide ample opportunities for vehicles turning left while staying on Route 120. As added safety measures, Caltrans will extend the left-turn lane on Route 108 and the ‘refuge’ lane for vehicles on westbound Route 120 turning left onto Route 120. That ‘refuge’ lane provides time and space for vehicles to match the flow of traffic before entering the mainline. A cement curb will separate the left-turn and ‘refuge’ lanes from the mainline. George Reed Inc. of Modesto will perform this work for $3.3 million.
    (Source: Caltrans District 10 FB Post, 4/25/2019)

    Chinese Camp to Yosemite National Park

    Tuolumne River Bridge (120 TUO 19.61)

    In May 2016, it was reported that Caltrans is spending nearly $21-million into a project on Route 120 to provide updates and upgrades to the Tuolumne River Bridge. The bridge has not had a major overhaul since it was built 46 years ago, in 1970. The bridge deck will be replaced entirely. The bridge rails will be upgraded. The structure will be strengthened to improve its ability to withstand an earthquake. These improvements will help provide an additional forty years of service life to the bridge. Work on the 1,400 foot long bridge, which spans the Don Pedro Reservoir, is scheduled to begin after July 4, 2016, and wrap up in November 2017 before Thanksgiving.
    (Source: MyMotherLode.Com, 5/11/2016)

    In July 2016, it was reported that travellers may encounter significant delays on Route 120 until some time in 2017 as the California Department of Transportation works on the James E. Roberts Memorial Bridge. The bridge, on Route 120 at Don Pedro Reservoir, is along the stretch of road that is both Route 120 and Route 49 before Route 120 breaks off toward Yosemite. Workers are scheduled to replace the bridge deck and retrofit the structure, adding an estimated 40 years of service. Traffic will be limited over the bridge to one way at a time throughout the $20.8 million project, according to Caltrans. Completion is scheduled for November 2017.
    (Source: Roadnet.Com, 7/11/2016)

    In December 2017, it was reported that the James E. Roberts Memorial Bridge was essentially completed and was reopening to two-way traffic.
    (Source: MyMotherLode.Com, 12/22/2017)

    Near Groveland, there are some interesting markers that have similar physical characteristics to a postmile marker, but instead read "ESA Begin" and "ESA End". This mark Environmentally Sensitive Areas. The sign code is G11-10, and it is illustrated here. These markers are used to mark the limits of an environmentally sensitive area within the State highway right of way. In this case, these are likely lengths of the highway where runoff has the potential to end up in the Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct.

    Business Routes Business Routes

    Although there is no mention of Business Route 120 through Manteca, all portions of Yosemite Avenue through Manteca that are not currently signed as Route 120 are actually old Route 120.

    Suffixed Routings Suffixed Routings

    The portion of this segment that was cosigned as US 50 was once part of I-5W.

    Naming Naming

    Jack SnyderThe portion of Route 120 in the City of Manteca from PM SJ R1.845 to SJ R6.431 is name the “Mayor Jack Snyder Memorial Highway”. It was named in memory of Mayor Jack C. Snyder, who was born in Toledo, Ohio in November 1926, and who moved to Manteca, California in 1962. Snyder’s dedication to serving his community began on the Manteca City Council, where he served for 24 years, the longest tenure in the City of Manteca’s 103-year municipal history. Snyder worked tirelessly to gain support for the approval to build the Route 120 bypass despite his colleagues’ skepticism of the project. Snyder enlisted a group of dedicated volunteers to spend their weekends traveling to the bay area to help gain support for a Route 120 bypass by handing out flyers, speaking on radio stations, reaching out to newspapers, and speaking with commuters who were traveling to and from the bay area, facing incredible amounts of traffic in the Manteca area. Snyder was able to successfully gain the needed support to begin building the highway and stunned those who believed that his goal was not obtainable. Snyder was instrumental in the creation of a greatly needed community park for children, young adults, and families: Snyder’s colleagues on the Manteca City Council were supportive of bypassing an opportunity for a new local park by allowing the land to be sold to housing developers instead; and Snyder prevailed by garnering plentiful community support that would eventually lead to the creation of what is now known as Northgate Community Park. Snyder continued his work supporting children and youth who often faced juvenile delinquency issues in the community by creating a local branch of the Boys & Girls Club of America in the 1970s, and Snyder served on the local Boys & Girls Club of America Board for decades to come. Snyder was also crucial to the establishment of a local citizens volunteer corps titled “Seniors Helping Area Residents and Police,” which was dedicated to helping patrol officers free up time by assisting with routine duties and serving as extra eyes throughout neighborhoods. Snyder passed away on April 20, 2021, at 94 years of age. Named by Assembly Resolution ACR 138, Res. Chapter 128, 08/19/22.

    In May 2021, it was reported that Manteca Mayor Ben Cantu it working with Assemblyman Heath Flora and Caltrans in a bid to get the Route 120 Manteca Bypass (SJ R4.321 to SJ T6.699) named after Jack Snyder. who passed away in April 2021 at age 94. Typically such an honor requires the approval of the California Legislature and some sponsoring group to pick up the cost of making and installing the signs along the freeway. Snyder served 24 years on the Manteca City Council —— the longest in Manteca’s 103-year municipal history. He is also the only “comeback” council member as Snyder got appointed to a council vacancy 12 years after leaving office and then won re-election. Arguably Snyder’s most high profile achievement that also showcased his uncanny sense of out-of-the-box thinking to get around seemingly insurmountable roadblocks as well as his skill at organizing volunteers was the Route 120 Bypass. Up until the mid-1970s, Route 120 ran through downtown Manteca and followed the route of Yosemite Avenue that passed Airport Way and continued westward toward the San Joaquin River. Bay Area people traveling to and from the Sierra and the foothills for weekend excisions had turned Route 120 through Manteca into a rolling parking lot heading east late Friday afternoons and evenings and then head west late Sunday afternoons. It wasn’t unusual for traffic to back up 5 miles at a time trying to clear what were then two sets of traffic signals in Manteca. While Manteca had only 13,000 residents, it was reported by police and city officials that motorists at intersections without traffic signals  would have to wait sometimes an average of five minutes to cross Yosemite Avenue during peak travel times on the weekend. Building a bypass of Manteca on Route 120 was not even listed in the 20-year statewide highway project plan. When area representatives in Sacramento told the council the region lacked the political muscle at the Capitol to get a bypass project built any sooner due to the clout of the Los Angeles and San Francisco urban areas, Snyder decided the best move was to get the San Francisco Bay Area on Manteca’s side. It started with a small army of volunteers who spent Fridays and Sundays walking up to stalled cars filled with Bay Area residents frustrated with the traffic delays and handing them flyers. Essentially the flyers urged them to contact their representatives to get funding for the Bypass to end their wait times trying to get through Manteca. Snyder and his volunteers blitzed Bay Area newspapers and radio stations to make their case and get support. In the end political operatives were stunned that Manteca was able to line up coastal urban support for what they had dismissed as a local highway project. Then after a “hybrid” highway-freeway was put in place with on and off ramps but two lanes with alternating passing lanes, Snyder led the charge to get Caltrans to install barriers down the centerline the length of the Bypass after 32 people died in the first 18 months of it being open.
    (Source: Manteca/Ripon Bulletin, 5/19/2021; Image source: Manteca/Ripon Bulletin, 5/19/2021)

    Officer Justin KeplerThe portion of Route 120 in both directions between Sexton Road (SJ 120 14.834) and Brennan Road (SJ 120 15.860) in the County of San Joaquin is named the Officer Justin Kepler Memorial Highway. It was named in memory of Justin Kepler, who was born in April 1988, in San Jose, California. Justin Kepler excelled in academics. At the age of 14, he passed the California High School Proficiency Examination and received his high school diploma. Justin Kepler went on to attend Modesto Junior College, where despite having talents and interests that included music, language, and auto mechanics, he received an emergency medical technician (EMT) certification and studied criminal justice to pursue his dream of becoming a police officer. Justin Kepler grew up in a family of law enforcement. His father, uncle, and cousins were police officers for the San Jose Police Department. Justin wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps, as did his brothers, who both are currently California Highway Patrol officers. On April 16, 2012, Justin Kepler was hired by the Stockton Police Department and attended the South Bay Regional Public Safety Training Consortium academy in the City of San Mateo, California. On September 27, 2012, Justin Kepler was sworn in as a Stockton police officer by the Chief of Police of the Stockton Police Department, Eric Jones. During his four-year career as a police officer, Justin Kepler obtained the status of field training officer and specialized in impaired driving enforcement. Justin absolutely loved his career and was proud to follow in the footsteps of his father and older brother. On August 20, 2016, Justin Kepler, 28, was riding his personal motorcycle home on Route 120 from the City of Manteca, California, where, upon approaching the intersection at Brennan Road in the City of Escalon, he was hit by a sport utility vehicle (SUV) and thrown approximately 35 feet. The driver of the SUV fled the scene without reporting the accident, and Justin died on the scene. Named by Assembly Concurrent Resolution 119, Res. Chapter 38, 09/14/20.
    (Image source: Modesto Bee)

    The portion of this route from the San Joaquin county line near Escalon to Yosemite National Park (~ SJ R16.855 to TUO R56.51) is named the "Northern Yosemite Highway". It was named by Assembly Concurrent Resolution 27, Chapter 69, in 1989.

    CDF Firefighter Eva Marie Schicke Memorial HighwayThe portion of Route 120 from the Mariposa/Tuolumne County line to the Rim of the World Vista (~ TUO 0.000 to TUO R44.641) is named the "CDF Firefighter Eva Marie Schicke Memorial Highway". It was named in memory of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) Firefighter Eva Marie Schicke, who passed away in the line of duty on September 12, 2004, at the age of 23, while battling a fire in the Stanislaus National Forest. Schicke was born in Turlock, California, in 1980 and moved to Placerville with her family in 1988. She was a two-sport standout in basketball and volleyball at Ponderosa High School in Shingle Springs, California. In 1998, Schicke returned to Turlock, California, to attend California State University, Stanislaus (CSUS), where she received a degree in criminal justice in 2002. Schicke was an outstanding collegiate athlete. She played basketball at CSUS for four years, was a three-year starter for the CSUS Warriors, and was the second leading team scorer during her senior year. A highly versatile player, Schicke played forward, point, and off-guard positions. On the court, Schicke showed the toughness, drive, and physical prowess that made her a leader among her teammates and later contributed to her successful firefighting career. Schicke began her career with CDF in June 2000; her first assignment was at the CDF station in Arnold, California. Schicke proved to be an outstanding employee and quickly developed into a topnotch firefighter. Her sense of humor, determination, work ethic, and mental and physical toughness all contributed to her success with CDF. Schicke was held in high regard by all who worked with her and was proud to have earned the respect of her fellow firefighters. In recognition of her outstanding abilities as a firefighter, Schicke was selected to join the crew of Copter 404 in June of 2004. These highly coveted assignments are typically reserved for the most experienced firefighters who demonstrate outstanding job knowledge, work ethic, and physical conditioning. Schicke thrived on the challenges presented by fighting wildland fires and loved the camaraderie that she found in the station and airbase. On September 12, 2004, Schicke and the crew of Copter 404 were engaged in firefighting efforts on a fire near Groveland, California, when Schicke and six other firefighters were overrun by the fire. Schicke was completing her fifth season with CDF at the time of her death and was the first female firefighter from CDF to die in the line of duty. Schicke personified the professionalism, work ethic, and dedication for which CDF firefighters are known. Named by Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) 156, Resolution Chapter 166, on 9/19/2008.
    (Image source: 2881 Fire Wire Winter 2015; CFN California Fire News;

    Historically, the portion of this route between Route 108 and the Yosemite Valley (~ TUO 12.349 to TUO R56.51) was named the "Big Oak Flat and Yosemite Road". The portion betwen Oakdale and Yosemite via Groveland was locally called the "Big Oak Flat Road.

    Named Structures Named Structures

    Bridge 32-0018 (TUO R019.61), at the Tuolumne River in Tuolumne county, is named the "Jacksonville Bridge". It was built in 1971, and named by Assembly Concurrent Resolution 99, Chapter 124 the same year. The Jacksonville Bridge is named for the historic gold rush town of Jacksonville, founded by Col. Alden A.M. Jackson in 1849.

    James E. (Jim) RobertsThe Tuolumne River Bridge on Route 120 (again, Bridge 32-0018 (TUO R019.61)) in Tuolumne County is named the "James E. Roberts Memorial Bridge". It was named in memory of James E. "Jim" Roberts, in recognition of his exemplary career with the Department of Transportation (Caltrans) as a structural engineer for a half-century. James Roberts had a BS Civil Engineering, and began his engineering career with Caltrans in the summer of 1953, but was deployed six weeks later to active duty in Korea as a commissioned 2LT in the Army, where he was involved in the rebuilding of damaged bridges after the war ended. He remained in the Army Reserves until he retired as a colonel in 1985 after 33 years of active and reserve duty. He returned to Caltrans in the summer of 1955 to what was then the Bridge Department, Construction Branch, and began working on the US 101 Bypass in Cotati and eventually was moved to work on the "Grapevine" project in Bakersfield, where he began a four-year trek over the hill after work, to the University of Southern California (USC), returning home around midnight, to earn his MS Structural Engineering from USC in 1966. Jim Roberts worked his way up through the ranks at Caltrans, until in 1981 he was promoted to Deputy of Engineering, and then became the project director representing Caltrans in working with the City and County of Sacramento and the Sacramento Regional Transit District to build the light rail project. Roberts returned to Caltrans in 1985 as the manager of bridge design, and on July 1, 1987, became the Division Chief of the Division of Structures, equivalent to Assistant State Highway Engineer. Jim Roberts then became the Chief Bridge Engineer, and was instrumental in establishing seismic performance criteria following the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989. Jim Roberts recognized the need for a better training program for young engineers and established the Bridge Design Academy, and was instrumental in creating opportunities for women to promote into higher positions in engineering. He was active in over 17 professional organizations, including State President of the Professional Engineers in California Government in 1972; wrote over 50 papers and publications on bridges and other transportation issues; and was the recipient of over 20 professional awards during his career. He retired in 2001 from Caltrans, and died on July 6, 2006. Named by Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 4, Resolution Chapter 83, on 7/10/2007.
    (Image source: National Academies Press)

    National Trails National Trails

    Lincoln Highway Sign Victory Highway Sign This portion of this segment from I-5 to Route 99 (i.e., former US 50) was part of the coast-to-coast "Lincoln Highway" and the "Victory Highway".

    The portion of this segment from Route 108 to Yosemite National Park has historically been part of the "Mark Twain-Bret Harte Trail".

    Freeway Freeway

    [SHC 253.6] Entire portion. Added to the Freeway and Expressway system in 1959.

    Scenic Route Scenic Route

    [SHC 263.6] From Route 49 near Chinese Camp to Route 49 near Moccasin.

  2. Rte 120 Seg 2From the east boundary of Yosemite National Park to Route 395 near Mono Lake.

    Post 1964 Signage History Post 1964 Signage History

    This segment is unchanged from its 1963 definition.

    Pre 1964 Signage History Pre 1964 Signage History

    This segment was signed as Route 120 in the initial signage of state routes in 1934 (Jct. US 99 at Manteca to Jct. Route 168 (later US 6) at Benton, via Groveland and through Yosemite National Park). It was LRN 40, defined in 1915. It includes Tioga Pass.

    As for the Tioga Pass Road itself, the eastern section up Lee Vining Canyon to the Tioga Mine was built in 1883. The connecting section of the Tioga Pass Road from Big Oak Flat Road was built as a wagon trail from 1902 to 1910. The National Park Service purchased the Tioga Pass Wagon Road in 1915, which was when the era of automotive travel over the road began. Surprisingly Lee Vining Canyon has only a 7% grade which is a hell of an accomplishment for a roadway in the eastern Sierras.
    (Source: Tom Fearer (Max R) on AARoads, "Re: Tioga Pass Road", 7/8/2017)

    Note: The paragraphs marked with ° are summarized and excerpted from Gribblenation Blog (Tom Fearer), "The Tioga Pass Road", September 2020. See the article for much more detail on the history of the pass.

    ° The road across Tioga Pass began life as the "Great Sierra Wagon Road", proposed by the Great Sierra Company. It had an estimated cost of $17,000 dollars in 1881 for the road from the Big Oak Flat Road near Crane Flat east to the Tioga Peak mines.  In 1882 the Great Sierra Company authorized a survey for a wagon road and railroad to the mines of Tioga Ridge which was completed by August during said year.  In July of 1882 the California & Yosemite Short Line Railroad was incorporated with the intended goal of also building a rail line to the Tioga Mining District. By September of 1883 the Great Sierra Wagon Road had been completed east from the Big Oak Flat Road to the Tioga Mining District. As the years wore on the Great Sierra Wagon Road remained in periodic use but began to fall into disrepair due to a lack of maintenance. In 1896 an appropriations bill to purchase the Great Sierra Wagon Road was proposed but never gained traction in the House of Representatives.  In 1899 the Army was directed by Congress to survey the Great Sierra Wagon Road.  The Army determined the Great Sierra Road, while in a state of disrepairm had been well engineered with an average gradient of 3%.  A recommendation was made by the Yosemite National Park commissioners that the Great Sierra Wagon Road could be repaired for $2,000 dollars, versus the cost of constructing a new highway for an estimated cost of approximately $61,000 dollars.  Yosemite National Park thusly formally recommended that the Federal Government acquire the Great Sierra Wagon Road. In 1911 the Federal Government brought a lawsuit against the franchise holders of the Great Sierra Wagon (referred to as the "Old Tioga Road").  The Federal suit argued that the Tioga Road had been long abandoned and sought to condemn the franchise rights so it could be incorporated as a Park Road.  Ultimately the law suit found that the owners of the Tioga Road had maintained it enough that their claims to ownership were valid. Stephen Mather, Assistant to the Secretary of the Interior sought to improve automotive access to Yosemite National Park.  Mather learned that the purchase price of the Tioga Road within Yosemite National Park was $15,500 dollars.  Mather along with several other private contributors purchased the Tioga Road with Yosemite.  The Tioga Road was subsequently purchased by the Federal Government for $10 dollars on April 10th, 1915.  The Tioga Pass Road was repaired and was opened to automotive traffic on July 28th, 1915. As noted in the discussion of LRN 40, in 1915 Legislative Chapter 306 and 396 changed the definition of LRN 40 to include all of the segments Tioga Pass Road and Big Oak Flat Road that were not in within the boundary of Yosemite National Park.
    (Source: Yosemite.Ca via Gribblenation Blog (Tom Fearer), "The Tioga Pass Road", September 2020)

    ° Note that the original Tioga Pass Road diverged from the Big Oak Flat Road at the South Fork Tuolumne River via modern Evergreen Road.  The Tioga Pass Road followed Evergreen Road to Aspen Valley Road.  The Tioga Pass Road entered Yosemite National Park via what is now Aspen Valley Road to Aspen Valley.  From Aspen Valley the original Tioga Pass Road followed the Old Tioga Road Trail to the White Wolf Lodge.  From the White Wolf Lodge the Tioga Pass Road followed modern White Wolf Road back to the modern Tioga Pass Road. In 1940 the current route of the Big Oak Flat Road in Yosemite National Park was opened between Crane Flat and Yosemite Valley.  The Old Big Oak Flat Road from Tuolumne Grove to Yosemite Valley was largely converted into a one-way scenic alternate. Sometime between 1942 and 1944 Route 140 was cut back to the El Portal Entrance of Yosemite on the Merced River while Route 120 was rerouted off of Evergreen Road onto the Big Oak Flat Road to Route 120 via the current Carlon Day Use Area.  In 1956/1957,  the New Big Oak Flat Road between Evergreen Road and Crane Flat was opened to traffic.  After the new alignment of the Big Oak Flat Road between Evergreen Road and Crane Flat opened the Old Big Oak Flat Road from the Carlon Day Use Area to Tuolumne Grove was abandoned or turned into trails.  The portion of the Big Oak Flat Road from Crane Flat to the Tuolumne Grove became part of the Tioga Pass Road.
    (Source: Gribblenation Blog (Tom Fearer), "The Tioga Pass Road", September 2020)

    ° With respect to the eastern extension to Mono Lake, in 1899 what would become LRN 40 was added to the State Highway System. This was "a free wagon road from the Mono Lake Basin to and connecting with a wagon road called the Tioga Road and near the Tioga Mine". The Department of Public Works first considered building the eastern extension of the Tioga Road to Mono Basin first via an established pack trail over Bloody Pass.  By 1902, a new route via Lee Vining Canyon had been selected and construction began.  By 1910 construction through Lee Vining Canyon to the Tioga Mine had been completed to State standards. 
    (Source: Gribblenation Blog (Tom Fearer), "The Tioga Pass Road", September 2020)

    Naming Naming

    This route was officially designated the "Great Sierra Wagon Road" and "Tioga Road". It was named by Chapter 306 in 1915.

    Chiura ObataThe portion of Route 120 from post mile MNO R0.898 to post mile MNO R4.766 in the County of Mono is named the Chiura Obata Great Nature Memorial Highway. It was named in memory of Chiura Obata, who was born in November 1885 in Japan and raised in the city of Sendai. At seven years of age, he began his formal training in the art of sumi-e, Japanese ink and brush painting; at fourteen years of age, Obata began an apprenticeship with a master painter in Tokyo, and in 1901, he received a prestigious art award in Tokyo. In 1903, Obata boarded a steamship for the United States as a teenager with a desire to see the world and study art, eventually finding a home in San Francisco, California. He found the California landscape to be a true inspiration for his painting.  Upon coming to the United States, Obata not only was the recipient of intense racial epithets; he was even hit and spat upon by people on the streets of San Francisco simply because of his ethnicity, but he also encountered the institutionalized racism that existed in many laws of the time that restricted the rights of Asian-born immigrants like himself, including prohibitions from owning land and becoming a United States citizen. Obata became an avid baseball player, playing many games at Golden Gate Park, and was one of the founders of the Fuji Club, the first Japanese American baseball team on the American mainland. In 1921, Obata cofounded the East West Art Society in San Francisco with other American, Russian, Chinese, and Japanese artists to promote a uniting of Asian and Western art traditions. In 1927, Obata made a six week camping trip to Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada Mountains that proved to be a defining moment in his professional life, about which he would later say, “This experience was the greatest harvest for my whole life and future in painting”. Obata’s art is infused with his reverence for nature, which he viewed as a powerful spiritual force; he thought of nature as dai-shizen, or Great Nature, reflecting his belief that it is an essential source of inspiration and peace for all human beings. In 1932, Obata began his career as an influential educator, teaching in the art department at the University of California, Berkeley for nearly 20 years. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the President’s Executive Order No. 9066 resulted in the forced removal of all Japanese Americans on the west coast of the United States; Obata lost his job at the university and his art supply store. In April 1942, Obata and his family were sent to the Tanforan Racetrack near San Francisco and eventually to the Topaz War Relocation Center in central Utah; firmly believing in the healing power of art, in less than a month he and his fellow artists were able to create an art school with over 600 students. While Obata was director of the Topaz Art School, he continued to paint images of life in the camp as well as the beauty he saw in the desert landscape; even in the face of such confinement, Obata proved to be a figure of peace and resilience. In 1943, Obata and his family were released from the relocation center in Topaz, Utah, and returned to California in 1945 at the end of World War II; after 1945, Obata continued to visit Yosemite and the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains to paint his landscapes. In 1954, two years after the United States government allowed Japanese immigrants to become citizens of the United States, Obata and his family became naturalized American citizens. In that same year, Chiura and his wife, Haruko Obata, led the first of the "Obata Tours" to Japan, introducing many Americans to Japanese arts, architecture, and culture; the tours fostered understanding through the arts between the two countries that had previously been at war. From 1955 to 1970, until he was 85 years of age, Obata traveled throughout California, giving lectures and demonstrations on Japanese brush painting and in 1965, in Japan, Obata received the Emperor’s Award, the Order of the Sacred Treasure, 5th Class, in recognition of his efforts to spread cultural understanding. Obata’s life and work have been celebrated and exhibited throughout the world, and his legacy in connection to our National Parks remains an inspiration for all Californians. Named by Assembly Concurrent Resolution 112, Res. Chapter 37, 09/14/20.
    (Image source: The Rafu Shimpo, 8/26/2019)

    Tioga PassTioga Pass (~ MNO R7.369) is at the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park in Mono County. The name was brought west from the east. It was originally an Iroquois Indian word meaning ‘where it forks.’ In this region, the name was first applied to the Tioga Consolidated Mine registered in Bodie on March 14, 1878. Two years later another Tioga Mine opened near Mount Dana. The  Tioga Pass road dates from 1882-83. The pass is the highest road crossing of the Sierra, lacking only 55 feet of being 10,000 feet above sea level. From the pass, one can head north on foot to access Gaylor Peak. One may also head south to climb the lofty 13,057-foot summit of Mt. Dana.
    (Sources: Bill Sanford "Getting out of the Central Valley: Highway passes to the east" (emailed draft 10/1/2010); Image source: Great Lakes Travel)

    Scenic Route Scenic Route

    [SHC 263.6] Entire portion.

    Freeway Freeway

    [SHC 253.6] Entire portion. Added to the Freeway and Expressway system in 1959.

  3. Rte 120 Seg 3From Route 395 near Mono Lake to Route 6 near Benton Station.

    Post 1964 Signage History Post 1964 Signage History

    This segment is unchanged from its 1963 definition.

    Route 120 between US 395 and US 6, while a benign drive in the summer, is prone to severe snow drifts during the winter. While the western end of this section sits at about 6800 foot altitude, and the eastern end at Benton Jct. is even lower at about 5700 feet, the center segment rises to about 8200 foot elevation -- higher than Conway Summit to the north on US 395. The very lack of variation of the terrain around the highway contributes to heavy snow drifting during winter months -- there's not much in the way of steep hills for the snow to fall off -- it tends to stay packed up on the ground (and the highway); there's nothing stopping it from "piling on", so to speak. Plowing would be pointless -- by the time the road was plowed from one end of the snowdrift area to the other, it would have been overtaken by more drifting in the plow's wake. It's actually one of the later spring openings on a state highway in that area; the crews tend to wait until most of the pack has melted off before plowing it through. The saving grace is that it takes a sizeable snowstorm to pack it up in the first place, so it's often late November or even early December before Route 120 is closed in that area.
    (Source: Scott Parker (Sparker) at AAroads, 8/2/2016)

    Pre 1964 Signage History Pre 1964 Signage History

    This segment was signed as Route 120 in the initial signage of state routes in 1934 (Jct. US 99 at Manteca to Jct. Route 168 (later US 6) at Benton, via Groveland and through Yosemite National Park). It was an extension to LRN 40 defined in 1933.

    Naming Naming

    The portion of this segment from Route 395 to the site of Mono Mills is named the "Mono Lake Basin Road". It was named by Resolution Chapter 704 in 1917. Mono is derived from the word "Monache," a division of the Shoshonean Indians.

Classified Landcaped Freeway Classified Landcaped Freeway

The following segments are designated as Classified Landscaped Freeway:

County Route Starting PM Ending PM
San Joaquin 120 R0.07 R4.09
San Joaquin 120 R4.54 R6.33

Interregional Route Interregional Route

[SHC 164.16] Between Route 5 and Route 395.

Exit Information Exit Information

Other WWW Links Other WWW Links

Statistics Statistics

Overall statistics for Route 120:

Pre-1964 Legislative Route Pre-1964 Legislative Route

In 1933, Chapter 767 defined the route "[LRN 2] near Soledad to Pinnacles National Monument and Pinnacles National Monument to Hollister-Priest Valley Road in Bear Valley" as part of the highway system. In 1935, this was codified in the highway code as LRN 120 with the definition:

  1. [LRN 2] near Soledad to Pinnacles National Monument. The original western alignment of the road to West Pinnacles took Stonewall Canyon Road to the modern Route 146 portion of LRN 102. That alignment was replaced sometime between 1940 and 1942.
  2. Pinnacles National Monument to [LRN 119] in Bear Valley

A 1934 Division of Highways Map shows the eastern segment of LRN 120 (Route 146) running west from Route 25 into Pinnacles National Monument past the current terminus about a mile to Bear Gulch. The Bear Gulch Road is pretty much a straight to the western LRN 120 (Route 146) which makes it likely that this is what the post number gap is based off of. That means,if the map is correct, there was for a time a less than 2 mile gap between both segments of LRN 120 (Route 146). The state maps are too zoomed out really to provide any insight onto when the eastern segment of Route 120 might have been pulled back to the boundary with Pinnacles National Monument where the current Route 146 terminus is located. Route 146 in East Pinnacles still retains the same length that it had when it was a National Monument; this is because when the Monument was expanded to a Park, the boundary was expanded. That left Route 146 East maintained by Caltrans within the new National Park Boundary. From the west on Route 146 the highway segment is only 2.45 miles. Despite no reassurance markers westbound there is a Route 146 END sign at the former boundary for Pinnacles National Monument. The Eastern Segment of Route 146 has mileage markers ranging from 12.70 to 15.15. Essentially it is a straight line from the terminus of the western segment across the Pinnacles which ends at 10.19.
(Source: Tom Fearer (Max R) in AARoads, "CA 146 East",  6/2/2017)

This is the route from US 101 near Soledad to Pinnacles National Monument, and then to Route 25. It is present-day Route 146.

Acronyms and Explanations:

Back Arrow Route 119 Forward Arrow Route 121

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