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Atherton Drive gap in place by September
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You should be able to drive Atherton Drive all the way from Woodward Avenue just west of Moffat Boulevard to Airport Way by September.
The City of Manteca is going to bid today for the project between Union Road and a point where Atherton Drive now dead-ends east of Sparrowhawk Drive.
Bids will be opened Jan. 18 and the project awarded at a special council meeting several days later. The timetable will allow crucial work on a South San Joaquin Irrigation District lateral in the path of the Atherton Drive extension to take place before Feb. 15. That’s when the SSJID irrigation season starts. If work isn’t done by then on the lateral it would delay construction of the road gap for nearly a year.
Bianchi Partners — the development group with a large chunk of the property along the unbuilt Atherton Drive alignment — will oversee construction management for the city.
Developers — who are paying for the $4.4 million project from fees already collected — have indicated the fact the Atherton Drive gap will now be built is likely to result in a decision by retail firms to build freestanding locations fronting the 120 Bypass. It is a view shared by city officials.
Atherton Drive will be constructed to the full four lanes and center median from Union Road west past the proposed commercial development and then reduced to two lanes plus the center median. The other two lanes will be built as adjoining land develops.
By not putting in four lanes for the entire length of the gap, the city will have funding to break ground on the nearby new Union Road/120 Bypass interchange in late 2018.
 The Atherton Drive project is expected to pull traffic off of Woodward Avenue as it would start functioning as the south Manteca thoroughfare allowing traffic to get off the 120 Bypass and to travel to where Atherton Drive now intersects Woodward Avenue near Moffat Boulevard.
That will especially be true when traffic tie-ups or accidents at the 99/120 interchange on the eastbound 120 Bypass prompts vehicles to exit the freeway and head down Woodward Avenue to reach Highway 99.
At the same time Atherton Drive punched through to Airport Way will likely change traffic patterns for residents south of the 120 Bypass and even east Manteca. That’s because they could take Atherton Drive — designed as a thoroughfare with minimal intersections to reach Costco and the Stadium Retail Center that is a top shopping destinations without getting on the 120 Bypass.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email