According to California's Secretary of Business Transportation and Housing, Sunne Wright McPeak, designating Highway 99 as an "Interstate" would enhance the economic and social well being of the Central Valley.
But McPeak says the first priority is to meet state safety standards that will put 99 on the road to becoming an interstate, and that could cost as much as six billion dollars.
"Our priorities are first safety, making freeway standards, without crossover traffic, and also to expand capacity."
But it doesn't stop there. McPeak says it will take a lot more money to meet federal standards regarding overpasses, medians and shoulders.
"If we were to comply with all of those interstate standards it could be another to eleven to fourteen billion."
The Central Valley Highway 99 corridor stretches 280 miles through eight Counties. McPeak didn't specify where the money might come from in a state that's still facing a budget deficit.
She said it's encouraging that the entire Valley Congressional delegation is behind the effort to make 99 an interstate. McPeak made her comments at a seminar in Modesto on the future of the highway.