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Austin interchange work nears

Council expected to call for bids for $2.4M in work

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Austin interchange work nears

The Moffat Boulevard/Austin Road intersection within Caltrans right-of-way is being widened to accommodate truck traffic. It will also have traffic signals.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin/

POSTED August 18, 2014 10:44 p.m.

Just about the time the Highway 99 widening project through Manteca wraps up another improvement project will start along the freeway.

The Caltrans portion of the improvements to the Austin Road interchange to accommodate the business park job generating phase of the 1,049-acre Austin Road Business Park is expected to go out to bid when the Manteca City Council meets tonight. The bid open is set for Sept. 18.

The initial $2.4 million worth of work will only involve changes with the Caltrans right-of-way. The balance of improvements needed to city streets including Austin Road, a segment of Moffat Boulevard connecting to Woodward Avenue and the railroad crossing will cost an additional $3 million. All of the improvements are needed before Austin Road Business Park partnership can start development of 4.8 million square feet of Business Park as part for the project’s first phase.

The Caltrans right-of-way work will include adding ramp metering — red and green lights that control the flow of traffic on to a freeway on the southbound onramp to Highway 99 at Austin Road. The requirement for ramp metering  is a nod to the fact the freeway at that point is heavily congested due to 120 Bypass eastbound traffic heading south onto Highway 99. The traffic currently causes backups daily on the 120 Bypass sometimes as far back as Airport Way. Once Highway 99 is widened to three lanes from the Crosstown Freeway in Stockton to the 120 Bypass the lane — that is now dedicated exclusively to 120 traffic that is heading onto 99 — will turn into a merge lane. That is expected to further because back-up issues which is where the metering ramp comes into play.

There would also be traffic signals at the off ramps as well as Austin Road or Moffat Boulevard. The Austin/Moffat traffic signals would be tied into the Union Pacific cross arms similar to signals at Moffat and Industrial Park Drive/Spreckels Avenue. The actual railroad crossing improvements will be made in the next phase.

Ramps at the Austin Road and Highway 99 interchange will be widened including allowing the southbound off ramp to 99 to have two left turn lanes and a right turn lane.

The improvements would allow the addition of more truck traffic through the Austin/Moffat intersection to reach distribution centers and such expected to locate in the 600-acre business park that’s part of the overall Austin Road Business Park.

Moffat Boulevard will be widened to four lanes to Woodward Avenue.

Besides the railroad crossing, the second part of the project includes widening Austin Road to federal standards to accommodate truck traffic to the business park.

The $2.4 million tab will be covered with $1,068,380 from Austin Business Partners, $900,000 from the state, $263,421 from the city and$155,084 from PG&E.

The remaining $3 million is proposed to come from $508,047 from San Joaquin Council of Government sources, $1.3 million in transportation fees Manteca has collected on new growth, $1 million fronted by the developed subject to a reimbursement agreement, and another $181,278 from the developer to cover the shortfall.

The $2.2 million the developer is putting up is $1 million more than their fair share under state rules that indicated growth mist pay its own way but not more than the cost it triggers.

The council when they meet tonight at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center will consider a reimbursement agreement for that extra $1 million.

The developer will get their money back as the business park developers by splitting new property taxes 50-50 with the city until such time they collect $1 million.

Ultimately new

interchange needed

Ultimately, the existing interchange will be replaced with a new interchange for the envisioned Raymus Expressway with a six or eight lane bridge deck that would cross both the freeway and railroad. It would be located about midway between the 120 Bypass and Jack Tone Road and would serve future growth in both Ripon and Manteca. The existing interchange is too close to allow a substantial increase in traffic movements that would come with the commercial and retail portion of the Austin Road Business Park project. Caltrans has agreed to allow upgrades to the current interchange to allow the employment center portion of the project to start development.

The location of the future interchange could impact the proposed alignment of a major east-west road that many rural South Manteca residents are watching with a wary eye. That road essentially would connect with a proposed interchange at McKinley Avenue in the 120 Bypass and swing eastward to connect with the new interchange on Highway 99. Moving it farther south could take that east-west road into not just farmland but the 100-year flood zone as well. That can’t happen, though unless dry levees are built to protect the area.

The Austin Road Business Park project is so big it has the potential to:

uGenerate 10,200 residents or about a seventh of the existing population of Manteca.

uConvert 1,049 acres from farming and rural residential use to urban development.

uAdd 3.5 million square feet of general commercial or about 26 times the square footage of the Manteca Costco store.

uGenerate 8 million square feet of industrial/business park, and office use or space equal to 17 times the coverage area of the Ford Motor Parts distribution center on Spreckels Avenue,

It also includes 84 acres that are zoned for mixed commercial and a retail use which means it could involve condos above stores or large condo, apartment, or townhouse projects interwoven with commercial uses.

The residential alone represents the potential of creating $1.02 billion in today’s dollars.

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