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Highway 99 widening step closer
Highway 99 will be widened to six lanes through Manteca by adding a lane in each direction in the median. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Widening Highway 99 through Manteca will also improve traffic flow at the Highway 120 Bypass interchange.

The widening project - that could start as early as spring of 2011 if the California Transportation Commission ultimately concurs - would widen Highway 99 from Austin Road north to Arch Road in Stockton from four to six lanes. That means the three northbound lanes coming from Ripon will no longer be squeezed down to two lanes just past the Highway 120 Bypass transition ramp.

The City Council Tuesday is scheduled to sign a freeway agreement with Caltrans at a 4 p.m. meeting at the Civic Center, 1001 W. St. The meeting start time was moved up due to National Night Out activities.

Caltrans and the San Joaquin County Council of Governments are working on a plan to start construction of the two additional lanes in the median by spring of 2011.

Unlike the two new interchanges going at French Camp Road and Lathrop Road on Highway 99, the widening of the freeway from four to six lanes requires no right-of-way acquisition. Moving up that part of the project a year also means favorable construction costs can save money.

Work on the two interchanges is targeted to move forward in the spring of 2012.

The Manteca City Council has approved a conceptual design for the Lathrop Road interchange that includes incorporating various downtown features such as the vintage street lights black-painted steel and brick.

Some 13.1 miles of four-lanes of the Highway 99 freeway corridor is being widened to six lanes between the Cross-town Freeway in Stockton and the Highway 120 Bypass at a cost of $496 million. It is being paid for with a combination of state highway bond funds set aside especially for Highway 99 improvements between Bakersfield and Red Bluff as well as the half cent Measure K sales tax collected in San Joaquin County for transit projects.