The new signage highlights the historic US Route 99, which runs through the heart of the City of Madera
MADERA, CA – The City of Madera, in partnership with the non-profit Historic Highway 99 Association of California (Association), is pleased to announce the completed installation of six (6) new Historic US Route 99 signs on Gateway Drive commemorating the former major US highway.
Known to most as Gateway Drive, the route was originally a major thoroughfare for transporting agricultural produce — vegetables, livestock fodder, and cattle — from Imperial Valley to major cities in California and along the west coast. Funding for the signs was obtained through private donations made to the Association, and the City’s Public Works Department moved swiftly to install them once received.
According to Michael Ballard, President of the Association, the project aims to increase public awareness of the route’s existence and historical significance.
“We started the Historic Highway 99 Association of California to help do more for the roadway, its history, and the people along it,” said Ballard. “US Highway 99 formed the backbone of California, also known as the “Main Street of California,” and traveled through the agricultural and industrial heart of the state. In doing so, US Highway 99 helped California grow as a state by linking these places with a good highway.”
“The alignment through Madera, Gateway Drive, which was bypassed in 1958, also still has a few elements remaining from its time as the main roadway. At 8th St, there is a bridge from 1935 with an intact railing. 1930’s paving still exists from the Fresno River bridge north to near Cleveland Avenue. While these aren’t necessarily a draw for tourists, Madera’s location at a major junction point for Yosemite traffic is. Encouraging some of that traffic to take the old road through town could help revitalize the businesses along the way. There is also a small collection of wineries, known collectively as the Madera Wine Trail, which can draw tourists. Historic US 99 takes them there.”
The signs were placed at the following locations along Gateway Drive:
The Association has now set its eyes on the Pine and Palm in the median of Highway 99, which represents the halfway point along US 99 in California. Northern California is represented by the Pine, whereas the Palm represents Southern California. “In time, we plan to work with Caltrans to have signage placed at that location to mark it better,” said Ballard. “Currently, travelers may or may not notice the trees in the median mixed in with the oleander.”
If you would like more information about, or to donate to the 501(c)(3) non-profit Historic Highway 99 Association of California, please visit their website at https://www.historic99.org.