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$250M upgrade of Highway 99 starts

2015 target for finishing additional lanes, 2 interchanges

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$250M upgrade of Highway 99 starts

The first shovels of dirt are turned by, from left, Shannon Ding (Assistant to Assemblyman Bill Berryhill), Gary Prost (Congressman Jerry McNerney’s office), Lathrop Mayor Joseph “Chaka” Santos, Ma...


POSTED June 13, 2012 2:27 a.m.

Get ready for three years of Highway 99 construction between the 120 Bypass and Arch Road.

The $250 million project to widen the stretch of freeway from four to six lanes plus reconstruct the Lathrop Road/Main Street interchanges into one, build a new interchange at French Camp Road, install a concrete safety barrier, and erect new soundwall and landscaping officially broke ground Tuesday.

The Manteca campus of Delta College on Brunswick Road provided the perfect backdrop for Mayor Willie Weatherford to deliver his remarks about the Highway 99 widening and improvement project.

Just down the road is where the existing Lathrop Road interchange will be transformed from a tired narrow two-lane 1950s structure to a six-lane structure with enhancements such as Tidewater-style light standards bringing it up to modern-day standards. Weatherford, with the rushing traffic of San Joaquin County’s arterial corridor to his back, talked about the jobs that will be created and the pride that will come from the construction.

He also talked about the seamless acquisition of the land necessary to complete the project and the way that the state worked diligently to make sure each of the businesses displaced found new digs.

It’ll take three years for everything to be completed, but once it is Manteca will have three lanes carrying traffic in each direction and a landscaped interchange similar to the one that Ripon built when they reworked the Jack Tone configuration over the highway.

“Thank you for taking this project by the horns and running with it,” Weatherford said. “We asked to be the land agent with the right-of-way acquisition that we needed for this thinking that the history that we had would make things a little bit easier.

“But Caltrans’ process of securing property and setting these businesses up to succeed really worked out.”

A combination of funding from San Joaquin County’s half-cent transportation sales tax Measure K and Proposition 1B – $133 million from the transportation bond measure approved by voters in 2006 – are being used to cover the $250 million price tag.

City Manager Karen McLaughlin sees a variety of positives for the community from traffic alleviation to money generated by construction jobs.

But the added benefit of creating a local identity along the Highway 99 corridor – joining the ranks of the communities that have gone out of their way to beautify the entrance to their cities and towns – is something that McLaughlin says that she’s looking forward to.

“It’s really going to improve access to Manteca and provide a visual sense of place which is something that we don’t have right now,” McLaughlin said. “When you drive down Highway 99 you see it in some communities but not in others. It’s something that we’re looking forward to having.”

McLaughlin said that the city had a great working relationship with Caltrans throughout the process. She gave them high praise for going above-and-beyond when it came to relocating businesses that were displaced.

Center Appliance, for example, moved their business from the curve in Main Street near where it intersects with Lathrop Road to near where Lathrop Road intersects with Crestwood Avenue.

Carrie Bowen, the Caltrans District 10 Director, believes that the project will provide a variety of benefits including enhanced air quality, improved safety and reduced travel time for a section of roadway that draws heavy truck traffic.

“It’s going to bring it up to today’s standards which are critical for safety,” Bowen said. “It should also provide something extra for the economy and the quality of life for the residents that drive it on a regular basis.

“This section draws a lot of recreational traffic as well, so adding to the ease of travel will also be a benefit.”

More than 100,000 vehicles drive the segment of Highway 99 each day.

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