Highway 99 rated deadliest in nation, study says

Highway 99 in the Central Valley is the deadliest major highway in the country, according to an analysis released Thursday.

The 400-mile highway that runs through the centers of Sacramento, Stockton, Modesto and other valley cities recorded 62 fatal accidents per 100 miles over a recent five-year span.

The report is from ValuePenguin, a private consumer research organization based in New York that reviews personal finance products. The company analyzes consumer data.

Highway 99 had 264 fatal accidents between 2011 and 2015, based on data ValuePenguin culled from the National Traffic and Highway Safety Administration database of fatal crashes. Fifty of those involved drunken driving.

The database recorded the most fatalities, 35, in the Modesto area.

Interstate 45 in Texas had the second highest rate of fatalities, 55 per 100 miles, followed by Interstate 95, which runs down the eastern seaboard from Maine to Florida.

California highway officials have been working on $1 billion worth of safety and efficiency improvements on Highway 99 over the past 10 years, using some of the $20 billion in infrastructure bonds approved by state voters in 2006 under Proposition 1B.

Highway 99 was the only freeway singled out in Prop. 1B specifically for upgrades. At the time, state officials said the old highway was outmoded, with narrow shoulders, tight ramps and under-sized interchanges. Improvement work has been ongoing since then.

“Funds may be used for safety, operational enhancements, rehabilitation, or capacity improvements necessary to improve the State Route 99 corridor traversing approximately 400 miles of the central valley of this state,” Prop. 1B authors wrote.

A 2014 state highway document lists 23 improvement projects being conducted along the 99 corridor between 2010 and 2014, including two in the Elk Grove area. Caltrans also used Prop. 1B funds between 2006 and 2015 to build overpasses to eliminate stop lights between Yuba City and Sacramento.

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