Moffat Boulevard is slowly returning to its glory days.
This year the eastern end of Moffat will undergo a $2.6 million transformation.
Moffat Boulevard between Austin Road and Woodward Avenue will be widened to four lanes under a plan to secure employment centers in the first phase of the 1,039-acre Austin Road Business Park.
It will help relieve current congestion as southbound traffic on Moffat often backs up past Woodward Avenue during the afternoon commute period. The project, though, is primarily designed to handle major movements of trucks in and out of the business park that is expected to include major distribution centers.
There would also be traffic signals at the off ramps as well as at Moffat and Austin.
Ramps at the Austin Road and Highway 99 interchange would be widened including allowing the southbound off ramp to 99 to have two left turn lanes and a right turn lane.
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 work will start less than a year after the city completed work on the $7 million transit center on Moffat at South Main Street.
Fifteen years ago, the Moffat corridor had a dive reputation.
It had deteriorated from its heyday when it was the southern Highway 99 entrance to Manteca. Once the freeway was completed in 1955 Moffat started a long downward slide. In 1995 motorists entered Manteca on Moffat via the left turn flyover from northbound Highway 99 that has since been removed. They were greeted by the old Moffat feed lot, the pulp smell on the back side of Spreckels Sugar, dilapidated gas stations, few trees, shuttered businesses, crumbling pavement, weed-infested lots, aging trailer homes, and motels that had seen their better days.
The urban blight has slowly given way to urban renewal along what was a segment of old Highway 99.
There are now business parks, a modern church with a sweeping architectural canopy, more than 300 trees, crisp pavement anchored by curbs, gutter, and sidewalks, a separated bike path, and a recreation park with a state-of-the-art BMX track.
Moffat Boulevard’s renaissance has been fueled by municipal investments including a liberal amount of funds from the Manteca Redevelopment Agency that ceased to exist in early 2012 as the latest casualty in California’s never-ending struggle to balance the state budget.
Among the private sector investments in recent years:
• The Crossroads Community Church complete with its JFK Airport-style canopy accent to a fountain featuring a massive stone sphere of the earth.
• The Manteca Business Park.
• The southern portion of Spreckels Park including Frito-Lay Distribution and in-line warehouses owned by Hunsaker.
• The first new building on Moffat in more than 20 years opened in 2004 to house Honest Automotive.
• A new California Welding building on Moffat near Woodward and the tearing down of the old welding firm’s structure and an adjoining nightclub that had become blighted.
• A security/safety fence installed between the tracks and the Tidewater Bikeway by Union Pacific Railroad.
Among the municipal investments:
• The Spreckels Park BMX Park.
• Extending Industrial Park Drive across the railroad tracks to Moffat where it intersects with Spreckels Avenue.
• A landscaped storm basin complete with trees.
• More than 250 trees planted along the Tidewater Bikeway’s Moffat leg.
• A new water treatment plant that was also landscaped.
• The installation of curbs, gutter, and sidewalk plus the correction of storm drain problems from Spreckels to Main.
• Tidewater-style traffic signals at Spreckels/Industrial and Moffat.
Equally important are things that are no longer on Moffat.
• The old Moffat Feed Lot where market cattle were fed sugar beet pulp to produce the odor that hung Manteca with the moniker “Manstinka” for decades.
• Elimination of overnight truck parking on city property in the heart of the Moffat corridor, Trucks, though, are now parking on the street and on the dirt between Woodward Avenue and Austin Road.
• A successful effort to stop illegal dumping on city property that parallels the Tidewater Bikeway.
• The razing and removal of several abandoned buildings and other structures gutted by fire.
And there is more in store.
The development of the 1,039-acre Austin Road Business Park in the coming years will allow the Moffat corridor to tie that project into not just downtown but Spreckels Park as well.