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Manteca downsizing Vasconcellos

Move means city overbuilt road south of E. Yosemite

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Manteca downsizing Vasconcellos

Vasconcellos Avenue will no longer be extended farther south as a four-lane road.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin


POSTED November 7, 2013 1:44 a.m.

Manteca tangled with Caltrans for six years to get a traffic signal at Vasconcellos on East Yosemite Avenue.

Caltrans always replied in the negative arguing “warrants” or conditions could not justify adding a traffic signal on East Yosemite Avenue that doubles as East Highway 120.

Originally the battle had been over signals at Pestana Avenue just to the west. But Caltrans pointed to the shortcomings of that intersection noting it was a T-intersection and would not serve future development to the south of the state highway.

Finally the city — with the help of then State Senator Mike Machado — was able to get traffic signals approved. They did it by making Vasconcellos a major four-lane arterial south of the highway designed to open up the area between Austin Road and Highway 99 to development. They also picked a street that connected with Louise Avenue to the north and would provide a safer access point to the El Rancho Mobile Home Park.

The endeavor required Manteca Trailer & RV to kick in funds for the southern extension of Vasconcellos Avenue with the city adding funds to make it four lanes wide.

Now less than a decade later Vasconcellos Avenue south of East Yosemite Avenue represents planning overkill.

The city no longer plans to extend the road as four lanes curving it to Austin Road and then east into future development north of Graves Road. Instead it will revert quickly back to two lanes and T-intersect into a future two-lane road connecting with Austin Road as part of a 342-home neighborhood approved Tuesday night by the Manteca City Council.

The council’s shift wasn’t lost on former planning commissioner Al Nunes who also happens to have a thriving trucking business employing 45 people for the past 30 years located in the path of the future extension of Vasconcellos.

Nunes doesn’t believe it is wise to abandon Vasconcellos as a four-lane arterial.

Municipal staff said it’s OK since the City Council approved a lower level of service in the general plan — the state mandated blueprint for growth — when it comes to traffic flow. The move means a slight increase in wait times at traffic signals and stop signs while significantly reducing future construction and maintenance costs.

Community Development Director Fredrick Clark also noted a Caltrans decision requiring the Austin Road interchange to ultimately be located further south to accommodate development in the 1,050-acre Austin Road Business Park means direct access to the freeway at the current Austin Road overpass eventually will be eliminated. That decision has prompted the city to rethink traffic flow for future growth east of Highway 99.

The current Austin Road interchange is too close to the 120 Bypass interchange to allow adequate space for smooth merges. It is the primary reason why Caltrans can’t entertain adding another transition lane from the eastbound 120 Bypass to southbound Highway 99 to eliminate the daily slowdown and back-ups on the Bypass.

The 342-lot neighborhood dubbed Copper Cove is planned on 61.7 acres as part of the Yosemite Square project on the northeast quadrant of the 120 Bypass and Highway 99 interchange.

Two access points from Austin Road – Red Rock Drive and Cactus Street — would serve the new neighborhood.

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