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Old 10-30-2018, 02:36 PM   #1
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Sacramento to Bakersfield - I5 or US 99?

I've been on both over the past few years. I'm interested in the current state of the roads. I5 had some pretty unpleasant sections, but the last time I was on US 99 there was a lot of construction and delays.

Anyone have recent experience? Thinking about going from Seattle to Palm Springs in January.
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Old 10-30-2018, 02:45 PM   #2
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I was on I-5 from Portland then 99 through Sacramento this past June and it was very good but once turned East toward Tehachapi there was a lot, A LOT, of construction. Jim E. OKC
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Old 10-31-2018, 10:44 AM   #3
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Jim - looking at the map I'm guessing you mean there was a LOT of construction after you turned east on CA 58 after you exited US 99.

I didn't take that route coming out of Palm Springs last year, I took CA 138 joining I5 just south of Gorman. It avoided all of LA and the southern part of the Grapevine.

Looking at the elevations on Google Maps it seems that Tehachapi is at the summit and about 4,000 feet, so there isn't any elevation advantage to taking 58 over 138, in fact it seems about 600 feet higher than the route over the Grapevine to 138.

There is only so much you can do to avoid those pesky mountains.
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Old 10-31-2018, 10:57 AM   #4
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Good morning Paul; This winter and spring we traveled down to Az. from Washington. The route I have been taking down I-5 is to go through Sacramento on I-5 and at Lodi, cut across to highway 99 and then south to Bakersfield. Great little RV park there in Lodi right off I-5 for an over night stay. Hwy 99 did not have a lot of construction in February and May of this year and the road was in good condition except for a few spots. I like the change of pace getting off the interstate and very few trucks on 99 during the weekend. Hope this info helps.
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Old 10-31-2018, 01:57 PM   #5
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Paul, you are correct of elevations. There are some hard climbs west of Tehachapi with slow truck traffic but the road is good. Did see one over heated 5th wheel and one MH that had problems. We were heading for New Mexico. I think your route through Gorman is the better choice and more opportunity for service if needed. Jim E. OKC
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Old 10-31-2018, 02:10 PM   #6
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We drove both last year and will never take I-5 again. Awful condition and awful scenery. We'd rather drive slower through towns than on the ugly interstate.
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Old 10-31-2018, 08:48 PM   #7
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Last May we went as far South as Merced. Took 99 from Redding thru Yuba City and on down. All good until Sac then not so much, in my opinion. Stretches (one just north of Merced) that will jar your teethe loose for a couple of miles at a time. I hope some is better now as we are going to Az. that route next week. Happy Travels TANDD
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Old 11-01-2018, 10:36 AM   #8
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Last May we went as far South as Merced. Took 99 from Redding thru Yuba City and on down. All good until Sac then not so much, in my opinion. Stretches (one just north of Merced) that will jar your teethe loose for a couple of miles at a time. I hope some is better now as we are going to Az. that route next week. Happy Travels TANDD
I'm guessing you mean from Red Bluff south, not Redding since 99 merges with I5 at Red Bluff. I drove 99 from Chico to Red Bluff two years ago and it was nice. We also did 99 from Stockton to Fresno a few years back and it was so-so. I think it is that memory that is in the back of my mind.

I5 is not scenic, and the road surface was marginal down that route, but based on my memory, it isn't something I'd really try to avoid. I recall a steep stretch on 580 between San Francisco and Stockton, where the road surface was so bad I felt sick and feared for the coach.
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Old 11-01-2018, 02:53 PM   #9
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I'm guessing you mean from Red Bluff south, not Redding since 99 merges with I5 at Red Bluff. I drove 99 from Chico to Red Bluff two years ago and it was nice. We also did 99 from Stockton to Fresno a few years back and it was so-so. I think it is that memory that is in the back of my mind.



I5 is not scenic, and the road surface was marginal down that route, but based on my memory, it isn't something I'd really try to avoid. I recall a steep stretch on 580 between San Francisco and Stockton, where the road surface was so bad I felt sick and feared for the coach.


Yes, the Altamont Pass
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Old 11-01-2018, 03:12 PM   #10
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Following, planning the same trip December.
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Old 11-01-2018, 04:04 PM   #11
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Yes, the Altamont Pass
Right, for some reason I thought it was 580 west of Livermore. Really a horrific bit of asphalt.
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Old 11-03-2018, 09:44 PM   #12
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Yes, the Altamont was pretty bad, but they've been making improvements in the last year. However, the OP was asking about Highway 99 vs. I-5 and 580 is not a route that is needed to get to either going North and South.
I prefer 99, three lanes most of the way once you're south of Sacramento, compared to only two the entire way on I-5. Plus it's easier to avoid all the potholes with an extra lane.
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Old 11-03-2018, 10:15 PM   #13
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Prefer 99, not that the road is better, but because it has options such as frontage roads and lot of services. I5 does not have that many off ramps and if there is an accident traffic can back up for miles
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Old 11-03-2018, 11:17 PM   #14
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99 is now in pretty good condition from Sacramento to Bakersfield. All the construction is pretty well finished.

We just ran from Fresno to Modesto yesterday and all the widening construction is 99% complete. Very good road as far as I'm concerned.
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