Click here for a key to the symbols used. An explanation of acronyms may be found at the bottom of the page.
From 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.
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
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
(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)
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 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.
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 route 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" In 1917, Chapter 704 extended the route through an act "...to 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
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)
McKinley Ave Interchange (PM SJ R2.0/R2.6)
The SAFETEA-LU act, enacted in August 2005 as the reauthorization of TEA-21, provided the following expenditures on or near this route:
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,
(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
(Source: October 2020 CTC Agenda, Agenda Item 2.2c.(1))
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
(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)
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 (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:
(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,
(Source: 2020 Approved SHOPP a/o May 2020)
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.
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).
In 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.
In 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)
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.
The 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.
In 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)
Segment 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:
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:
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
(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
(Source: Caltrans District 10 FB Post, 4/25/2019)
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
(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.
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.
The 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,
(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.
The 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.
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.
The 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)
The portion of this segment from Route 108 to Yosemite National Park has historically been part of the "Mark Twain-Bret Harte Trail".
[SHC 253.6] Entire portion. Added to the Freeway and Expressway system in 1959.
From the east boundary of Yosemite National Park to Route 395 near Mono Lake.
This segment is unchanged from its 1963 definition.
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)
This route was officially designated the "Great Sierra Wagon Road" and "Tioga Road". It was named by Chapter 306 in 1915.
The 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)
[SHC 263.6] Entire portion.
[SHC 253.6] Entire portion. Added to the Freeway and Expressway system in 1959.
From Route 395 near Mono Lake to Route 6 near Benton Station.
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)
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.
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.
The following segments are designated as Classified Landscaped Freeway:
|County||Route||Starting PM||Ending PM|
Overall statistics for Route 120:
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:
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)
Acronyms and Explanations:
Route 119 Route 121
© 1996-2020 Daniel P. Faigin.
Maintained by: Daniel P. Faigin <firstname.lastname@example.org>.