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State Route 59

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 59 Seg 1From Route 152 northerly to Route 99 near Merced.

    Post 1964 Signage History Post 1964 Signage History

    This segment remains as defined in 1963

    Pre 1964 Signage History Pre 1964 Signage History

    This was LRN 123, defined in 1933. It was first signed as Route 59 in 1961; Route 59 was not defined as part of the initial state signage of routes in 1934. Route 59 was first defined in January 1961.

    Status Status

    Gerald Ave Roundabout (10-Mer-59 13.6)

    The 2020 SHOPP, approved in May 2020, included the following Collision Reduction item of interest (carried over from the 2018 SHOPP): 10-Merced-59 PM 13.6 PPNO 3466 Proj ID 1019000059 EA 1K620. Route 59 near the city of Merced, at the intersection with Gerald Avenue. Intersection improvements. Programmed in FY23-24, with construction scheduled to start in December 2024. Total project cost is $10,140K, with $5,908K being capital (const and right of way) and $4,232K being support (engineering, environmental, etc.).
    (Source: 2020 Approved SHOPP a/o May 2020)

    In May 2020, the CTC approved the following allocation: 10-Mer-59 13.6. PPNO 3466 ProjID 1019000059 EA 1K620. Route 59 Near the city of Merced, at the intersection of Gerald Avenue. Construct roundabout.  Allocation: PA&ED $1,036,000.
    (Source: May 2020 CTC Agenda, Agenda Item 2.5b.(2) #28)


  2. Rte 59 Seg 2From Route 99 near Merced to Snelling.

    Post 1964 Signage History Post 1964 Signage History

    This segment remains as defined in 1963

    Pre 1964 Signage History Pre 1964 Signage History

    This was LRN 123, defined in 1933. It was first signed as Route 59 in 1961; Route 59 was not defined as part of the initial state signage of routes in 1934. Route 59 was first defined in January 1961.

    Evidently, there were plans to extend this North of Snelling, but this never made it into the legislative definition. Part of the reason for this was Route 65, which was intended to serve as the termination point for Route 59 near Snelling. This is part of the reason that route never continued northward along County Sign Route J59 to either Route 132 or Route 108/Route 120 (aside from the cost required to make that road a safe and efficient thoroughfare to and from Gold Country recreational points).
    (Source: Sparker @ AAroads, 7/3/2016)

    Status Status

    Olive/Sante Fe Intersection, Merced (MER 16.1)

    Rte 59 Olive - Santa FeIn March 2019, it was reported that Caltrans announced it is breaking ground on several projects to improve roads in Merced County, including a project that will enhance the intersection of northbound and southbound Highway 59 at Olive Avenue and Santa Fe Drive in Merced. The estimated $5.7 million project includes widening of the intersection to install curb ramps. The project also includes plans for a crosswalk with new signals to improve timing and an extension of turning lanes to avoid traffic backups, according to Caltrans. Caltrans said construction for this project is expected to begin in April and conclude in September.
    (Source: Merced Sun-Star, March 13, 2019)

    Merced-Atwater Expressway (~ 059 MER 18.948 to ~ 140 MER 32.535)

    There are plans to widen this to a four lane expressway near Merced. The EIR was completed in September 2002 per CTC Agenda.

    Merced-Atwater ExpresswayThe Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) is the CEQA lead agency for the Atwater–Merced Project. The project will widen a seven mile long north-south corridor to a six-lane freeway (~ 059 MER 18.948 to ~ 140 MER 32.535). The project will connect Route 59 with Route 140. The project will cross Route 99 and include a new interchange. Specifically, it runs from 1.2 miles south of Buhach Road to 0.33 mile north of Buhach Road. The project includes including demolition of Buhach Road interchange & construction of a new interchange. Details on the project may be found on the MCAG website.

    The project as proposed will result in significant unavoidable impacts to noise; land use and agriculture; wetlands; and biological resources. Mitigation measures and/or alternatives to the proposed project that would substantially reduce or avoid these significant unavoidable impacts are infeasible. Specifically, the project would increase ambient noise levels in the project vicinity; expose persons to noise levels in excess of standards established in the City of Atwater and Merced County General Plans; and implementation of project plans could result in significant cumulative impacts to land use and agriculture; population and housing; visual resources; noise; hydrology and drainage; biological resources and wetlands; and Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

    On March 19, 2009, MCAG adopted the FEIR, Findings of Fact and a Statement of Overriding Considerations for the project. MCAG found that there were several benefits that outweigh the unavoidable adverse environmental effects of the project. These benefits include, but are not limited to, providing additional north/south roadway capacity to accommodate existing, approved, and planned development within the Cities of Atwater and Merced Spheres of Influence, unincorporated portions of Merced County, and new UC Merced campus; improve access to the Castle Airport Development Center and the United States Penitentiary-Atwater; create alternative route for existing SR 59 to accommodate regional travel demand; reduce deficiencies and improve SR 99 by closing the Buhach Road interchange; and provide alternative emergency response routes, which would relieve congestion on existing roadways. MCAG established a Mitigation Monitoring Program to ensure that the mitigation measures specified for the project are implemented.

    The project is estimated to cost $212 million. The project is funded through Right of Way and is funded with STIP ($11.9 million) and Local ($4.45 million) funds. Funds totaling $196,055,000 are not yet secured/programmed for the project.

    In November 2010, the CTC approved amending the 2010 State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) to delete the Route 59 Widening project (PPNO 6688) and add the Atwater-Merced Expressway Phase 1A project (PPNO 5264A). This was done because the Atwater-Merced Expressway project will achieve greater benefits and, as a result, this section of Route 59 will be relinquished. The ultimate outcome of the project will realign Route 59 from Route 140 to Bellevue Road and relinquish a portion of existing Route 59 through the city of Merced. The Atwater-Merced Expressway Phase 1A project (PPNO 5264A) will realign and widen a portion of Route 99 from four to six lanes on an 8-lane right of way and construct a new interchange to replace the Buhach Road interchange. It is proposed to program $4,000,000 RIP to the Design phase and $8,800,000 RIP to the Right of Way phase in Fiscal Year 2010-11 for Phase 1A. The intent is to complete design and right of way acquisition for Phase 1A in time to use savings from Proposition 1B Route 99 Bond projects, if any, for construction. This also showed up in May 2011 and June 2011.

    Atwater Merced Campus Parkway LoopIn September 2011, it was reported that funding was denied for the Merced-Atwater expressway. In May 2011, MCAG voted to use $2.3 million in Regional Transportation Impact Fees and apply that money toward the engineering phase of the Merced-Atwater Expressway. The money was originally set aside for the Route 152 bypass, but MCAG officials believed they could acquire matching funding for the expressway with the dollars. However, in August, the CTC denied members of the Merced County Association of Governments $11.8 million for the engineering phase of the planned expressway. The Merced-Atwater Expressway isn't eligible for federal dollars because the project wasn't cleared through the National Environmental Protection Act.

    In April 2019, Merced County reported that the current phase of the Campus Parkway project, which will extend the expressway over Route 140, is nearly 65 percent complete and remains on schedule to be finished in the first quarter of 2020. This relates to the Atwater-Merced Parkway in that the Campus Parkway is part of a planned conceptual loop with the A-M Parkway that supports UC Merced.

    In March 2020, the CTC approved the 2020 STIP, which included PPNO 5264C "Atwater-Merced Expwy, Green Sands-Santa Fe, Ph1B", with $29,670K programmed in FY24-25.
    (Source: March 2020 CTC Agenda, Item 4.7, 2020 STIP Adopted 3/25/2020)

    Route 59 SnellingIn June 2007, the CTC considered a project in Merced County to make roadway improvements near Snelling (MER 22.6 to MER 23.3). This project is fully funded in the 2006 State Highway Operation and Protection Program. The total estimated project cost is $5,352,000. Construction is estimated to begin in Fiscal Year 2008-09. The project will involve construction activities in the environmentally sensitive habitat of the California tiger salamander and vernal pool fairy shrimp, both federally listed threatened species. Due to these factors, a Mitigated Negative Declaration is being completed for this project.

    In June 2012, the CTC relinquished right of way in the county of Merced along Route 59 on Oakdale Road (~ MER 23.195), consisting of a collateral facility.

    In January 2011, it was reported that the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors is advocating for extending Route 59 from its current end (MER 33.71) along existing La Grange Road (Merced, Stanislaus, and Tuolumne County Sign Route J59) from Snelling to its terminus at the intersection of Route 108/Route 120. If they can get traction on this, Route 59 would no longer end out in the middle of nowhere. Tuolumne County Sign Route J59 was recently rejuvenated in Tuolumne county from a sub-par road to something resembling state highway standards in 2009-2010. If Caltrans takes it on now they would be adding a recently rebuilt road to the system and eliminate a dead end state highway. La Grange road already functions like a state highway by funneling traffic from Route 99 in Merced up Route 59 to County Sign Route J59 and into Tuolumne county, avoiding the need to travel into Stanislaus county on Route 99 and taking Route 108 east from Modesto. The intersection in Tuolumne county is in the vicinity of where Route 65 would likely travel if the unbuilt center section ever came to pass.


Freeway Freeway

[SHC 253.1] Entire route. Added to the Freeway and Expressway system in 1959.

Status Status

County Route Shield From Snelling, a County Sign Route J59 continues N to Route 120. This is likely signed for continuity with Route 59.

Other WWW Links Other WWW Links

Statistics Statistics

Overall statistics for Route 59:

Pre-1964 Legislative Route Pre-1964 Legislative Route

The route that would become LRN 59 was first defined in the 1919 Third Bond Act as running from Lancaster to Baileys. It was an E-W routing from near Gorman to N of Lancaster, passing through Neenach. It was signed as Route 138 after 1934. After 1959, a new routing for LRN 59 from about 10 mi E of Gorman through Lake Hughes directly to Palmdale was defined for Route 138 ("Metropolitan Bypass"), and the older routing from that point to Lancaster was renumbered LRN 267. Post 1964, the LRN 267 routing was renumbered as legislative Route 48, although it was signed as Route 138 (presumably, that signage would move once the bypass was completed). However, in 1996, the Route 138 to Lancaster portion of Route 48 was returned to Route 138, essentially restoring Route 138 back to the LRN 59 routing.

In 1931, Chapter 82 extended LRN 59 from from [LRN 31] near Cajon Pass (US 91/US 66, present-day I-15) to [LRN 23] near Lancaster (US 6/Route 7, present-day Route 14). This was proposed as a short cut from San Bernardino to the San Joaquin valley or to the east Sierra route through Owens Valley to Lake Tahoe and Nevada. It continues the northwesterly direction of the San Bernardino county portion of LRN 31 passing over the Cajon Range through Phelan Pass and proceeding to Lancaster over level country; the coordinate route provides a straight course that justifies it as a essential through route.

In 1933, it was extended further, from [LRN 31] near Cajon Pass to [LRN 43] via Lake Arrowhead. In 1935, it was codified into the state highway code as follows:

  1. [LRN 4] near Gorman to Bailey's
  2. Bailey's to [LRN 23] near Lancaster
  3. [LRN 23] near Lancaster to [LRN 31] near Cajon Pass
  4. [LRN 31] near Cajon Pass to [LRN 43] via Lake Arrowhead

In 1957, Chapter 36 changed the description and combined the first three segments, giving "[LRN 4] near Gorman to [LRN 31] near Cajon Pass"

This route was signed as follows:

  1. From LRN 4 near Gorman to LRN 31 near Cajon Pass.

    This was signed as Route 138. It also includes the proposed "Metropolitan Bypass" routing of Route 138 (unconstructed, and deleted in 1996), as well as what is present-day signed Route 138 (but legislative Route 48 between 1964 and 1996) between present-day Route 138 and Route 14. This was cosigned with Route 2 from near Wrightwood to the Cajon Pass.

  2. From LRN 31 near Cajon Pass to LRN 43 via Lake Arrowhead.

    This was signed as Route 2 between Cajon Pass and Route 18. This is present-day Route 138.


Acronyms and Explanations:


Back Arrow Route 58 Forward Arrow Route 60

© 1996-2020 Daniel P. Faigin.
Maintained by: Daniel P. Faigin <webmaster@cahighways.org>.