Is it time to “un-ring” the bell when it comes to Raymus Expressway?
Nine months ago opponents of the controversial Raymus Expressway proposed to cut through a swath of small rural estates south of Manteca to literally put traffic in the backyards of existing residents were told the only way to get rid of plans to build the expressway would be for a future council to “un-ring” the bell by changing the general plan that currently calls for the expressway and includes a general alignment corridor.
Tonight kicks off the first of three “visionary” workshops to gather input from the community as Manteca starts what is expected to be a 2.5-year process to update the general plan that serves as the blueprint for Manteca growth.
The first workshop is planned for tonight starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Manteca Transit Center, 220 Moffat Blvd. The deadline to apply to City Clerk Lisa Blackmon to be in the running for appointment by the City Council to a 15-member General Plan Advisory Commission expected to serve for three years meeting roughly once a month is this Friday at 5 p.m. Each council member will make three appointments.
The City Council in April backed off moving forward with a consultant to determine the exact alignment of Raymus Expressway.
Councilman Richard Silverman — who expressed an opinion that the expressway might be overkill — cautioned at the time that the council’s unanimous action did not pull the plug on the expressway that would run from a proposed interchange on Highway 99 between Austin Road and Ripon that the city at one time said would cost $110 million to build and the envisioned McKinley interchange on the 120 Bypass.
Silverman also noted at the April council meeting that if the Austin Road Business Park didn’t proceed with an envisioned 4,200 plus homes, 8 million square feet of industrial/business park uses, and 5.5 million square feet of commercial the expressway would be hard to justify. The Austin Road Business Park partnership fell apart after the 1,040 acres were annexed to the city.
City staff noted there would be major legal ramifications given developers have signed contracts that essentially note Raymus Expressway will be built at some time. At least one developer contacted by the Bulletin said they would have no major issue with the expressway being dropped.
As for traffic issues, the city has other options such as reducing levels of service or how rapidly vehicles move on other major thoroughfares serving the area south of Woodward Avenue.
Residents have suggested Atherton Drive — which will be extended south into the 1,040 acres that were annexed for the business park — can effectively move traffic generated from future growth to reach freeway interchanges.
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