Bakersfield @ AARoads
Bakersfield, which was founded in 1869 and incorporated in 1873, is a regional agricultural hub and located near the major oil fields of Oildale and Taft. The city had a population of 247,057 people as of the 2000 Census and had grown throughout the ensuing decade. The city sits at an elevation of 408 feet above seal level, consists of 140.53 square miles, and is located at the southern end of the Central Valley. Significant routes in Bakersfield include California 58 (east-west), California 99 (north-south), and California 178 (east into the Kern River Canyon to Lake Isabella).
Interstate 5 is the closest Interstate highway to serve Bakersfield. Following the Westside Highway, Interstate 5 stays west of Bakersfield and avoids most of the metropolitan area.
U.S. 99, now known as California 99 approaches the Bakersfield from the south. Splitting with Union Avenue, which is the historic route of U.S. 99 through the city, California 99 stays west of downtown Bakersfield. Union Avenue travels through the center of the city and provides access to most businesses. Joining with California 99 near downtown Bakersfield is east-west California 58, which originates in the California Central Coast and travels east through Bakersfield and Tehachapi Pass into the Mojave Desert.
U.S. 399 was decommissioned in 1964. The route began in Ventura, traveled north along California 33, then turned northeast on California 119 at Taft. For the final mileage of this short route, U.S. 399 shared alignment with U.S. 99 along Union Avenue to its end at U.S. 466/Sumner Street in downtown Bakersfield.
U.S. 466 was decommissioned in 1964 and was replaced by California 58 east of Bakersfield and California 46 (and a few other routes) west of Bakersfield (after a brief overlap with U.S. 99 north of the city). U.S. 466 still remains intact along Sumner Street and Edison Highway through central and eastern Bakersfield.
California 58 is the major east-west route through Bakersfield. Originating in the Central Coast area off U.S. 101 near Santa Margarita. California58 begins as a quiet, two-lane rural highway. However, after crossing Interstate 5 in the southwestern Central Valley near Buttonwillow, the route gains in importance. By the time it reaches Bakersfield, it is a four- to six-lane highway with significant commercial and residential development on both sides of the highway. California 58 briefly overlaps with California 99, then becomes a freeway as it travels east along the U.S. 466 corridor toward Tehachapi, Mojave, Boron, and Barstow. At Barstow, California 58 ends at its junction with Interstate 15, and the primary east-west route from that point eastward is Interstate 40 to Needles, Flagstaff, Albuquerque, and points east along the Historic U.S. 66 corridor.
California 99 is the main north-south corridor through the eastern Central Valley. Much more populated than the western side of the Central Valley, the eastern side is home to cities such as Bakersfield, Visalia, Fresno, Madera, and Modesto. California 99 passes directly through these cities, while Interstate 5 bypasses these cities to the west and does not come close to California 99 until near Manteca and Stockton. California 99 is the original route of U.S. 99, which was decommissioned in stages starting in 1964. Old alignments of the original route are preserved as business routes in the urban areas, and the freeway has been continuously upgraded to six-lane freeway standards (an ongoing effort). Some in the Central Valley would like to see California 99 added as an Interstate Highway (probably Interstate 7 or Interstate 9), but such an addition would require substantial upgrades to California 99, especially its bridges which do not have the minimum height requirements.
California 178 is a trans-Sierra Nevada highway that originates in Bakersfield and travels northeast to Lake Isabella via the Kern River Canyon. At Lake Isabella, California 178 turns east to cross Walker Pass and meet California 14 at Freeman Junction. California 178 continues east through Inyokern and Ridgecrest, ending near Trona in the Mojave Desert. A separate section of California 178 exists east of Death Valley and travels east through Shoshone into Nevada. It is unlikely that the current gap in California 178 between Trona and Death Valley will be built, so the best alternate is to take local roads to California 190, then rejoin California 178 southeast of Badwater. While portions of California 178 are built to freeway standards, the majority of this state route is two-lane rural highway.
California 99 Business is the old alignment of U.S. 99-399 (south of Sumner Street) and U.S. 99-466 (north of Sumner Street/23rd Street). The section of California 99 Business north of California 58 to the California 99 interchange is maintained by the state and co-signed as California 204. The route of old U.S. 99 (now California 99 Business) includes Union Avenue from California 99/Golden State Freeway Exit 11 north to the intersection with Golden State Avenue, then past Garces Circle to rejoin California 99 at Exit 27 (Airport Drive interchange). Owing to significant traffic volume leading from downtown Bakersfield to the California 99 freeway, the northern section of California 204 as it passes over the Kern River and joins California 99 is a freeway.
Panorama Drive is a Bakersfield city street notable for its route along Panorama Park, which offers magnificent views toward the Kern River, Sierra Nevada, Oildale, and oilfields north of the city. It is also the best route from Union Avenue to Alfred Harrell Highway.
|Panorama Drive east|
|Union Avenue reaches its north end at this point, where Manor Street turns northwest and Panorama Drive turns northeast. Photo taken 03/15/09.|
|After Manor Street and Panorama Drive split from Union Avenue, Panorama Drive turns northeast to parallel Panorama Park, a beautiful green space that overlooks the Kern River below it. Parking is available on the street and at nearby parking lots; the view is worth it. Photo taken 03/15/09.|
|Panorama Park comes into view on the north side of Panorama Drive. Photo taken 03/15/09.|
|Residences line the south side of Panorama Drive. Photo taken 03/15/09.|
|The Sierra Nevada foothills also come into view in the distance along Panorama Drive. Photo taken 03/15/09.|
|Eastbound Panorama Drive meets River Boulevard at this traffic signal. The Greenlawn Memorial Park Cemetery is located at the southwestern quadrant of this intersection; Panorama Park continues along top of the southern bluff above the Kern River. Photo taken 03/15/09.|
|This view looks east on Panorama Drive at Bryn Mawr Drive. Photo taken 03/15/09.|
|Panorama Park continues for just a short distance longer. Ahead is the traffic signal with Haley Street and Bakersfield College. Photo taken 03/15/09.|
|The do not enter signs on the left are a one-way offramp from westbound Alfred Harrell Highway (via China Grade Loop) onto westbound Panorama Drive. Photo taken 03/15/09.|
|Eastbound Panorama Drive meets Haley Street. On the right (south) side of Panorama Drive is Bakersfield College. Photo taken 03/15/09.|
|Opened in 1913, Bakersfield College is a community college that is among the oldest such colleges in the state. The main campus of the college is located on the south side of Panorama Drive and encompasses approximately 153 acres, with an average enrollment of about 15,000 students. Photo taken 03/15/09.|
|The next traffic signal along Panorama Drive east is with Mount Vernon Avenue south and Alfred Harrell Highway east. Mount Vernon Avenue travels south along the eastern edge of Bakersfield College and connects to both California 178 and California 58. To the northeast, Alfred Harrell Highway is a locally maintained freeway that extends to Hart Memorial County Park along the Kern River. Photo taken 03/15/09.|
|Eastbound Panorama Drive meets Mount Vernon Avenue south and Alfred Harrell Highway east. Photo taken 03/15/09.|
|Panorama Drive scenes|
Alfred Harrell Highway
Alfred Harrell Highway is a locally maintained freeway (not in the state highway system) that connects Mount Vernon Drive and Panorama Drive with Hart Memorial County Park, with interchanges at China Grade Loop, Fairfax Road/County Dump Road, and Goodmanville Access Road. The highway begins on a bluff and travels northeast as it lowers elevation to the park. According to California Highway Historian Michael Ballard, the freeway portion was built between 1956 and 1958 using Federal Aid Secondary (FAS) funds.
|The median barrier is almost non-existent as the Alfred Harrell Highway turns east again ahead of the freeway end. Photos taken 03/15/09.|
|A small guide sign indicates that Alfred Harrell Highway continues east to Ming Lake, Kern River Golf Course, Rio Bravo, and California 178/Kern Canyon Road. Photo taken 03/15/09.|
|Between Hart Park and Kern River Park, the Alfred Harrell Highway retains two lanes (one in each direction). Recreational areas are now generally to the side of the highway via secondary routes, and cars aren't parked alongside the highway as frequently. Photo taken 03/15/09.|
|The California Living Museum (CALM) is located on the north side of the Alfred Harrell Highway. Photo taken 03/15/09.|
|Turn left here to the California Living Museum (CALM). Photo taken 03/15/09.|
|The next major intersection along the Alfred Harrell Highway is with Lake Ming Road north to Lake Ming and the Kern River Golf Course. Continue straight to the junction with California 178. Photo taken 03/15/09.|
|The speed limit of the Alfred Harrell Highway increases back to 55 miles per hour for the first time since entering Hart Park. However, this section of highway is not built to freeway standards. Photo taken 03/15/09.|
|A short distance later, the Alfred Harrell Highway turns south to leave the river and eventually meets California 178 at this traffic signal. A realignment completed in 2006 allows motorists to continue straight to connect to southbound Comanche Drive. Previously, the Alfred Harrell Highway and Comanche Drive did not directly connect without a brief overlap on California 178. Comanche Drive travels south through rural and agricultural areas to California 58/Bakersfield-Tehachapi Highway Exit 121. Photo taken 03/15/09.|
Page Updated September 19, 2009.