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Manteca’s new standard for road maintenance: South Main Street

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POSTED May 5, 2014 1:19 a.m.

Take a drive down South Main Street between Industrial Park Drive and the 120 Bypass.

The pavement is being pounded apart by traffic that includes a heavy dose of trucks. I was bad two years ago. It is worse today.

Drive over the split and cracking pavement and you can hear a dull rumble as your car shakes slightly.

This apparently doesn’t bother anyone at City Hall too much including elected leaders.

During a recent goal setting meeting for next year’s budget that goes into effect July 1 not one councilman made reference to needing to repair the section of South Main Street nor any other existing road for that matter.

It adds credence to the contention of some challengers in the upcoming November municipal election that the council is so focused on growth and economic development they can’t see existing infrastructure problems.

That really isn’t a fair statement given the millions of dollars spent in replacing aging sewer and water lines, upgrading storm systems in older parts of Manteca to reduce and eliminate flooding, as well as major road reconstruction projects in the last seven years including Moffat Boulevard, stretches of Yosemite Avenue and Union Road.

Rehabilitation of portions of South Main Street may indeed be on the Public Works Department’s agenda in the next year or so. It apparently isn’t on the five-year outlook of the Manteca City Council.

A survey of roads a few years back put the cost at making sure Manteca’s existing streets didn’t deteriorate substantially at millions of dollars. It got the council’s attention but not much else.

Manteca, like all other cities, relies heavily on the local share of state gas tax collections to maintain and rehab existing streets. Cities in San Joaquin County also have the advantage of the Measure K sales tax that includes annual funding for Manteca road work.

The prospect of more state gas tax coming Manteca’s way isn’t very high.

That’s because the state is faced with diminishing returns on gasoline taxes. As vehicles become more fuel efficient they consume less gas and pay less gas taxes.

Manteca is looking to Washington, D.C., to help add additional interchange improvements along the 120 corridor and on Highway 99 that could cost close to $200 million.

Uncle Sam might come up with some of the money but certainly not even close to half of it. That means Manteca has to come up with $100 million or so for interchange work they’ve already identified as needed over the next 20 years.

The council has yet to put in place an interchange fee for new homes to pay although it’s been five years plus since they first realized they had a big funding gap to cover.

That means Manteca is going to be hard pressed even more to come up with money for both new interchange work and existing road maintenance needs.

Add to it other pressing needs such as public safety and you’ve got a major infrastructure funding deficit.

Every year about 300 to 400 new housing units are built that get a pass on an interchange fee. Since the council first acknowledged the need, some 1,700 housing units have been added to Manteca. They can’t collect growth fees from those additional homes after he fact. If the fee had been $1,000 — which according to the study done five years ago is on the low side for the need­­ — the city has lost $17 million in funding.

Instead of simply lobbying Uncle Sam every year for road funding, they might want to step up their game and bite the bullet and impose fees to help pay for the city’s road needs list.

It shouldn’t surprise you that an interchange fee is not on the list of work the council wants completed next year or over five years although they do identify the need for interchanges.

They might argue the need for a fee is inferred. It isn’t. They want staff to explore funding options. In other words, they prefer a fee that may not rile the majority of members of the Central Valley Building Industry Association’s that do not have any ties to Manteca save making a corporate profit.

Meanwhile Manteca’s infrastructure deficit grows with each home built that profits major housing firms that are traded on the New York stock exchanges.

The same council is reluctant to even consider a community facilities district fee for ongoing road maintenance in new subdivisions that have yet to be built.

Actually, they are being very democratic. It means 20 years from now new neighborhoods built today will be competing with older neighborhoods for a shrinking or static road maintenance dollar.

Of course, in such cases those who yell the loudest will get the biggest share. You know where that will leave older neighborhoods.

It is why the stretch of South Main Street between the 120 Bypass and Industrial Park Drive/Mission Ridge Drive has been allowed to be in such hideous shape for years.

It is to help Manteca drivers get conditioned for how most streets in Manteca one day will be like to drive on since the city has no funding plan in place to pay for the ongoing maintenance of roads being built today.

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