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I-5 vs CA-99

Started by ZLoth, June 17, 2024, 07:12:14 PM

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ZLoth

From Sacramento in the north to Grapevine in the south, which is the better route - Interstate 5 or California Route 99?

Having driven both routes, the choice is clear... make sure you have a good audiobook when taking either route.
Don't Drive Distrac... SQUIRREL!


Max Rockatansky

99 any day of the week.  99 actually passes through real communities, lots of food options, old road alignment relics and lots of strange early freeway features.  I-5 and the Westside Freeway has nothing aside from people or trucks beelining from two big metro areas. 

Quillz

5 if destination is more important. 

99 if journey is more important. 

TheStranger

Had to do 5 twice in a month in that Los Banos-Wheeler Ridge stretch this past year on two different LA trips and...I remembered exactly why I have spent my driving years avoiding that entirely.

That being said, while I like the idea of 99 (old US highway and such), there are some segments that are tough to get through on the modern freeway portion, given the terrain and environs.  The old alignments are way more engaging to get thorugh, i.e. passing by the desolation near the Sun-Maid Raisins facility along Golden State Boulevard.  Old 99 in Bakersfield along 204/Business 99 can really give off that 1950s divided highway sort of experience.

When I lived in Sacramento, the contrast between the 1970s I-5 from downtown Sacramento to Elk Grove vs. the 1960s 99 from midtown to Galt is pretty cool and both are equally interesting for that design juxtaposition.  South of Galt, 99 is more interesting, but especially south of 205/120.
Chris Sampang

Max Rockatansky

One more advantage 99 has is that there are alternatives if the freeway has problems.  South Golden State Boulevard in Fresno County is maintained as a four lane expressway and still has a small freeway segment.  You're pretty much fucked if something big happens on I-5 and you're a ways from CA 33.

pderocco

You're much likelier to find yourself behind a tractor-trailor inching past another tractor-trailor on I-5. It happens on 99 on the 4-lane parts, but not as often. Maybe because long haul truckers avoid 99?

Max Rockatansky

Mostly short haul on 99. 

ClassicHasClass

99 all the way. More lanes in most places, for one thing (from Stockton south, anyway).

Henry

CA 99 for me! I-5 is a snoozefest.
Go Cubs Go! Go Cubs Go! Hey Chicago, what do you say? The Cubs are gonna win today!

pderocco

I-5 is in one respect the freeway designer's dream: cleanse the road of all character, all interest, so that drivers aren't likely to be distracted by something, and crash the car. But I think there's a point of diminishing returns that I-5 may pass, which is to cleanse it of all character, all interest, so that drivers fall asleep and crash the car.

SeriesE

Until the construction and widening to 6 lanes on CA-99 is complete: I-5.

I might lean towards I-5 a bit more since there are more rest areas along the route. Since I typically don't eat on the drive, food options are less important for me than having safe and clean places to stop for a short while.

Not that I'm saying the places along CA-99 is crime ridden, but on long trips, the last things I want to worry about are red light cameras (hello Bakersfield! :-D ) or potential of smashed windows.

Max Rockatansky

Another strike against I-5 would be the high gas prices.  It is really easy to end up with a Kettleman City special where you pay over a dollar higher for a gallon than you would on 99.

Also, the Bravo Farms off of 99 in Traver sells actual antique highway signs wheres the one in Kettleman doesn't.

webny99

Quote from: Quillz on June 17, 2024, 08:04:44 PM5 if destination is more important.

99 if journey is more important.

That's a nice concise summary of everything that's been said so far.  :thumbsup: 

Max Rockatansky

Of course from where I'm at in Fresno going south is more of a choice between 99 and 43.  I usually opt for the latter if I'm tired coming back home and just want something chill.  I lasted used it during the downpour after the Bakersfield Road Meet ended.

dariusb

With so many midsized communities along 99(Bakersfield, Fresno, Modesto, Merced, Stockton, Sacramento) are traffic backups common?
It's a new day for a new beginning.

ClassicHasClass

Not as much as you'd think, though I often get hung up southbound between CA 120 and CA 132 through Modesto in evening rush hour. But even that isn't horrible usually and the rest tends to be smooth sailing.

Max Rockatansky

Probably the worst part on 99 for backups is between Madera and Herndon.  That corridor bottlenecks to four lanes and has a heavy commuter base.  It is up for being widened to six lanes. 

michravera

Quote from: webny99 on June 19, 2024, 09:44:09 AM
Quote from: Quillz on June 17, 2024, 08:04:44 PM5 if destination is more important.

99 if journey is more important.

That's a nice concise summary of everything that's been said so far.  :thumbsup: 

On 99, you pull off and you are in Delhi or Delano or some town that maybe you've never heard of, but, at least you are SOMEWHERE.
On 5, if you pull off the road, you are at SB5FRE14.0

On 5, I swear that, at one of the rest areas, one of the maps, instead of having a "YOU ARE HERE" arrow, it has a speech bubble that said "If you are here, you are nowhere near where you want to be!"

ZLoth

One of the stops that I would always make when traveling I-5 is the Alien Gas Station in Lathrop, CA. Nothing unusual beyond the UFO theming.
Don't Drive Distrac... SQUIRREL!

ClassicHasClass

Another reason to ditch I-5 for this drive, at least for awhile: the Westley rest stop just south of I-580 closes July 1 and won't reopen until fall 2025. https://dot.ca.gov/caltrans-near-me/district-10/district-10-news/overhaul-westley-rest-areas-i5-begin-soon

pderocco

Quote from: michravera on June 27, 2024, 04:21:49 AMOn 5, I swear that, at one of the rest areas, one of the maps, instead of having a "YOU ARE HERE" arrow, it has a speech bubble that said "If you are here, you are nowhere near where you want to be!"
Unless you need to bury the corpse in your trunk.

ClassicHasClass

Quote from: pderocco on June 30, 2024, 01:26:31 AM
Quote from: michravera on June 27, 2024, 04:21:49 AMOn 5, I swear that, at one of the rest areas, one of the maps, instead of having a "YOU ARE HERE" arrow, it has a speech bubble that said "If you are here, you are nowhere near where you want to be!"
Unless you need to bury the corpse in your trunk.


For that, there's CA 266.

Max Rockatansky

Quote from: ClassicHasClass on June 30, 2024, 11:44:27 PM
Quote from: pderocco on June 30, 2024, 01:26:31 AM
Quote from: michravera on June 27, 2024, 04:21:49 AMOn 5, I swear that, at one of the rest areas, one of the maps, instead of having a "YOU ARE HERE" arrow, it has a speech bubble that said "If you are here, you are nowhere near where you want to be!"
Unless you need to bury the corpse in your trunk.


For that, there's CA 266.

Ran into a Caltrans crew conducting surveys on the one-lane portion of CA 229 in 2018.  They had only counted three vehicles a day.  CA 172 might be a contender also for being able to quietly dig holes.

SeriesE

Quote from: ClassicHasClass on June 30, 2024, 12:51:28 AMAnother reason to ditch I-5 for this drive, at least for awhile: the Westley rest stop just south of I-580 closes July 1 and won't reopen until fall 2025. https://dot.ca.gov/caltrans-near-me/district-10/district-10-news/overhaul-westley-rest-areas-i5-begin-soon

At that point, Lathrop/Manteca is about 20 minutes away. Not a big loss.



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