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Stimulus funds get transit station rolling
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Manteca’s long-stalled transit center planned for Moffat Boulevard at South Main Street is moving forward thanks to an infusion of federal stimulus funds.

The city has received the first half of $1.3 million the Manteca Transit system was allocated as part of the federal Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding.

The money received so far will go toward environmental and engineering studies for the transit station ($380,000); a marketing plan that includes rebranding, signage, and brochures ($40,000); the purchase of an additional fixed route bus ($100,000); and funds for the operations lease of the next Manteca Transit facility ($130,000).

The City Council is expected to call for bids in August for the environmental and preliminary engineering phase the transit station project with a completion date of February 2010.

The prospect of losing $1.1 million in Measure K regional gas sales tax funding prompted the City Council earlier this year to tell staff to devise a plan to start building the transit station in phases.

The city acquired the land needed for the transit station’s parking lot – the old Union Ice Company - on the southeast corner of Moffat Boulevard and South Main Street. The actual transit station is proposed for land that was bought as part of the original Tidewater Railroad property immediately to the southeast near where South Grant Street T-intersects into Moffat. Plans currently do not call for a train platform as the Altamont Commuter Express service is not expected to be extended southward into Merced County for at least five to 10 years.

The transit station will serve as a hub for Manteca Transit, San Joaquin Regional Transit, and taxi services. It is also hopeful that inter-city service – Greyhound Bus Lines – would also eventually use the transit as a hub. There would also be a ticket sales office for the local transit services plus hopefully Greyhound and ACE trains in the future.

The transit site is near the heart of the city as well as along the Tidewater Bikeway.

The overall project is expected to cost $3.9 million. In 2004, the San Joaquin County Council of Governments earmarked an additional $1.1 million to the project to bring its commitment up to $2.2 million. At the time, revenues were coming in stronger than expected from the countywide half cent sales tax. Now the sales fund is experiencing a shortfall prompting COG to reconsider its commitments.

Manteca has two other Measure M projects targeted for funding out of the initial 20-year plan. They include widening Airport Way to four lanes between Daniels Street and Yosemite Avenue plus building a bridge over the railroad tracks on Airport Way between Louise Avenue and Airport Way.

City leaders don’t anticipate there will be state funding any time soon to help with the grade separation. They do want staff to do everything possible to make sure the Airport Way widening proceeds. That project is on the construction list for 2009.

The city had previously dropped a Measure M project - building a bridge over the railroad tracks on Center Street.

Originally, the transit station was envisioned to go behind the 100 and 200 blocks of West Yosemite. The city then was mulling the site of the old lumber yard and even came up with architectural plans for a station with a clock tower. While they were taking their time on the advice of county personnel who believed toxic issues would make the site not commercially viable for private sector investment, Don’s Mobile Glass bought the building and ended up spending just around $20,000 for toxic clean-up.

The preliminary plans for the site the council finally acquired reflects the design of the early 1900s Southern Pacific train station that once served Manteca.