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Beautiful future for ugly duckling
Tidewater-style elements part of Lathrop Road/99 interchange
Proposed design aesthetics for the new interchange at Highway 99 and Lathrop Road in North Manteca. - photo by Rendering courtesy City of Manteca
Manteca’s new Lathrop Road interchange isn’t going to be your run-of-the-mill bridge over Highway 99.

Its design may include elements of Manteca’s downtown streetscape design, utilizing brick and black painted steel design elements plus the Tidewater-style street lights.

For that to happen, all it takes is for the Manteca City Council Tuesday to give their blessing to the conceptual design for the interchange on target to break ground in March 2012. The council meets at 7 p.m., at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

The interchange design is expected to serve as a gateway to Manteca from the north marking a definite entrance to the city. By the time work is completed on various projects in 2014, the Highway 99 corridor through Manteca will be transformed from a bleak 1950s-era freeway to arguably the nicest landscaped stretch of the freeway between Red Bluff and Bakersfield. It will also include new sound walls to replace those in various stages of decay.

Some 1,700 trees will be planted at the Highway 99 and Highway 120 Bypass interchange on Manteca’s southern flank in the fall to create mini-woodlands. At the same time, landscaping will be completed at the Highway 99 and Yosemite Avenue interchange. The median entrance planter on Yosemite Avenue to the west of Highway 99 has already had trees and shrubs planted in a brick veneer raised planter with additional work expected to be completed in the coming weeks.

Caltrans is taking advantage of a favorable construction environment in terms of cost to accelerate the Highway 99 corridor work between Arch Road and the Highway 120 Bypass. The actual widening to six lanes from four lanes will start in the spring of 2011 since no right-of-way acquisition is needed. The additional lanes are going in the center divider.

The six-lane Lathrop Road interchange will replace a narrow two-lane bridge built in 1995 that has no sidewalks.

Putting the new interchange at Lathrop Road and removing the existing off and on ramps from southbound Highway 99 on to Main Street was the overwhelming preference of the 400 who opposed the original plan plus that of the Manteca City Council, Manteca Unified School District board, and the Manteca Chamber of Commerce.

The new Lathrop Road interchange will include a bridge deck with four lanes, eight-foot-wide shoulders that can easily accommodate bicycles, and sidewalks. The off and on ramps will be on the north side of Lathrop Road with the ramps on the west side being aligned to tie directly with North Main Street that would be widened to four lanes to Northgate Drive.

The Frontage Road on the west side would swing wide to connect with Crestwood Avenue.

The ramps on the west side would tie into Lathrop Road with a new T-intersection. Southland Road as well as the Frontage Road on the east side would swing away from the interchange and meet in a new alignment further to the east.

The French Camp interchange will also have new on and off ramps put in place on the north side with the two bridges on Highway 99 being rebuilt to improve sight lines and enhance safety.

The project will close the Frontage Road on both sides of Little Johns Creek and covert them into cul-de-sacs.

Also, another lane will be added to Highway 99 between Yosemite Avenue and the Austin Road interchange.

Sound walls will be put in place immediately across from Raymus Village on the east side as well as near the mobile home park on Southland Road.

The sound wall behind homes on the west side of the freeway between Yosemite Avenue and North Main Street will be replaced and extended to  screen additional homes that have been built in Aksland Estates.

For more information on the project go to