Fifteen years ago this week emergency crews plugged the McKinley Avenue underpass with a 12-foot high dirt plug covered with plastic sheeting.
It turned the 120 Bypass into an emergency levee to stop floodwater from reaching the Airport Way corridor and the neighborhoods around Sierra High.
The 11 levee breaks along the San Joaquin and Stanislaus rivers had sent water rolling toward Manteca. The only thing holding it back was a fragile dry levee that emerges from the ground just west of Airport Way to the south of Woodward Avenue and runs parallel to that road gaining almost six feet in the process as it runs westward.
The California Office of Emergency Services monitored the dry or cross levee around the clock for close to a week after an initial inspection led them to believe it could fail at any time.
The strength of the cross levee and its ability to protect southwest Manteca from future flooding - especially new residential development that has been built since the 1997 floods to the south of the 120 Bypass that doubles as a back-up emergency level - won’t be a concern after the Trails of Manteca is developed.
That’s because Next Bay Properties is required to strengthen the cross levee as a condition for proceeding with the 1,673 living units planned for 477 acres at the western end of Woodward Avenue south of the gated lakefront community of Oakwood Shores.
City Manager Karen McLaughlin said essentially other property owners will gain enhanced flood protection.
Work on the Trails of Manteca neighborhood is anticipated to start within the next two years.
The project will be the largest residential neighborhood ever to move forward eclipsing Del Webb at Woodbridge by about 200 units. It will be the first to have common areas - including 75 acres of parkland - irrigated with reclaimed water from the Manteca wastewater treatment plant.
The developer is being required to install an 8-inch purple pipe system that will stub at Woodward Avenue for connection to the future city effort to use treated wastewater for irrigation to reduce the use of expensive treated drinking water of that purpose.
Landscape irrigation for parks as well as residential lots is the biggest use of water in the city. Reducing the amount of drinking water used will conserve water as well as expand Manteca’s supply.
Other design requirements include:
•Back yards that border parkland and open space will have wrought iron “view fences”.
•The inclusion of seven roundabouts including two on Woodward Avenue.
•Three bus turnouts on key streets including two on Woodward Avenue which is another first for Manteca.
•All street maintenance and operating costs will be collapsed into the landscape maintenance district.
•Separation of sidewalks from the street by a grass strip.
•A clubhouse for residents.
•Some 12 miles of trails for bicycles and pedestrians within the neighborhood.