The next big thing in Manteca — Austin Road Business Park with its promise of 9,134 direct jobs — is about to take its first physical step.
The Manteca City Council has hired Mendoza & Associates for $241,807 to provide construction management services for the initial phase of Austin Road/Highway 99 interchange improvements.
The firm will oversee the $2.25 million interchange upgrade to set the stage for the 1,050-acre project expected to add 9,134 direct jobs or close to 40 percent of the existing jobs already in Manteca. George Reed Inc. is the contractor. Work will start in early 2015.
Ramps at the interchange will be widened including allowing the southbound off ramp to 99 to have two left turn lanes and a right turn lane.
There would also be traffic signals at the off ramps as well as Austin Road at 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/Speckels Avenue. Metering signals will also be placed on the onramps to control traffic flow onto Highway 99.
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.
Currently southbound traffic on Moffat often backs up past Woodward Avenue during the afternoon commute period. Widening Moffat to four lanes will ease some of that congestion.
In addition there will be two northbound lanes that will go down to one at Woodward as the left lane would be dedicated to traffic heading into Woodward.
The project is being paid for with $1.5 million collected from growth over the past several years. That means those that bought new homes built in Manteca or developers that constructed business parks and retail centers are footing the bill for the work. The Austin Road Business Park partners are chipping in $400,000 while the San Joaquin County Council of Governments is expected to contribute the remaining $350,000
• • •
The work for widening the railroad crossing on Austin Road to accommodate four lanes is in a separate phase of improvements. The third phase of public improvements such as streets plus sewer, water, and storm pipe systems to provide access and service to the business park is expected to start later next year as well and would include bringing Austin Road south of the interchange up to federal standards for truck traffic. It will cover work on Austin Road from the railroad tracks south to the actual business park portion.
Ultimately, the existing interchange will be replaced with a new one 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 Austin Road Business Park project is so big it has the potential to:
• Generate 10,200 residents or about a seventh of the existing population of Manteca.
• Convert 1,050 acres from farming and rural residential use to urban development.
• Add 3.5 million square feet of general commercial or about 26 times the square footage of the Manteca Costco store.
• Generate 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 Speckels 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.