99 on overload, while I-5 is barely used
By JOHN M. DERBY
Times Founding Publisher
July 12, 2018
Last week, as we were headed to Highway
99, a friend called and said” “Stay away from
99, there is an accident with a big rig and it is backed
up for miles.”
There were cars and trucks stalled in the south lane as
far as the eye could see — and it is a common sight.
We heard later that the tie up on 99 took 3 1/2 hours to
clear the debris from the roadway.
Similar backups on US. 99 are common place, in part because
Highway 99 is overloaded and yet, Interstate 5 on the west
side of the valley is barely being used.
Why would anyone use Highway 99 if they had the option?
There is a reason and it is simple; lack of services.
When Cal Trans planned Interstate 5, it failed to plan for
adequate services at the interchanges. Most truck drivers
will not use 99 because of it, and people with cars need
to be careful they have plenty of gas and provisions for
the trip if they are taking I-5.
One would have thought, the State of California could be
making millions of dollars on the real estate at these interchanges,
however, there is little or no infrastructure for business
development. This has made it so expensive to install such
things as gas stations and shopping centers. Meanwhile,
the business world refuses to pay the price.
Motorists would rather drive the traffic-snarled Highway
99 then go without services. Truck drivers do not have the
option. They are forced to use Highway 99.
The problem goes much further. The traffic on 99 adds to
the already terrible bad air in the corridor which leads
from Sacramento to Bakersfield. Interstate 5 could add some
relief, pulling the bad air west where the winds could carry
it outside the valley.
The San Joaquin Valley suffers from bad planning. Even “High
Speed rail” is not going to solve the problem. Electric
cars might help, if there were room for them. With Highway
99 now running at maximum load, the problem can only get
What is needed is that the state provide money to install
infrastructure at the interchanges on Interstate 5, and
then do a major marketing program to bring businesses to
Finally, the people will come, drive I-5, and then eventually
trucks will also follow.
Maybe in our lifetime we could see some relief in the overloaded
Highway 99. Meanwhile, get ready to sit and wait, and breathe
the polluted valley air.