US 99 – Tipton to Tulare

In doing some research recently, I found an original section of US 99 from Tipton to Tulare. It had been a while since I looked at maps of this section, as most of my research has concentrated between Los Angeles and Bakersfield. The map below shows the alignment of US 99 in 1926.

Portion of 1926 Division of Highways map showing former alignment of US 99 between Tipton and Tulare.

Until 1931, US 99, and by extension Legislative Route 4, went on the west side of the Southern Pacific tracks from current Ave 164 north of Tipton to Bardsley Ave in Tulare, following Tulare County Road 112. This section was most likely paved with a 20′ concrete slab around 1917.

1928 USGS map showing the original alignment of US 99 at its crossing at Ave 164.
A short section of the original concrete at the southern connection to the current alignment is also visible just north of the canal crossing on the left side of the railroad tracks. Current State 99 is at center. Ave 164 runs to the right.

The roadway also retains three original bridges.  The two North Branch Tule River bridges (46C-0004 and 46C-0010 respectively) are from 1917 and retain their original pipe railing. Two other bridges, Elk Bayou and Bates Slough are also original, with the former dating to 1916. The telltale cracking of asphalt over concrete is also visible near the northern North Branch Tule River bridge to near Ave 184 at Octol.

The realignment in 1931 eliminated two railroad crossings without the use of bridges at the tracks. The new road was also built a little higher to help ease flooding problems that were common in the Central Valley. Today, some of the bridges built at that time still remain, albeit widened or otherwise modified.

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