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Highway 99 work along southbound sound walls
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New sound walls are on the way along the southbound lanes of Highway 99 between Lathrop Road and the Yosemite Avenue exit.

Crews this week have started cleaning up the area between the shoulder and the existing sound walls in a bid to prepare for modern replacement sound walls.

The ground preparation work - taking place overnight - is expected to last several weeks. New sound walls will eventually be built to replace the existing ones that are in various stages of decay as part of the $250 million widening of 13.1 miles of Highway 99 between Arch Road and the 120 Bypass.

When the overall project is completed in 2015, Highway 99 will be six lanes from Lodi south to Turlock.

A Caltrans spokesman said neighbors backing up to the existing sound wall may experience some dust and hear somewhat different noises than they are used to while the preparation work goes on.

Initial work starting in the spring will add a third lane in the center divider in each direction. The second phase is a new interchange at French Camp Road while the third phase involves a new interchange at Lathrop Road. The fourth and final phase is landscaping.

The new Lathrop Road interchange means the flyover onramp will be removed and the existing Lathrop Road interchange replaced.

The interchange will:

• realign the West Frontage Road through Delta College’s property in the northwest corner of the interchange and align it with Crestwood Avenue. Delta College is proposing developing 350,000 square feet of retail on the land.

• extend North Main as four lanes from Northgate Drive to tie into an intersection with the southbound on and off ramps at Lathrop Road. The road, designed to allow traffic to travel at 35 mph, would wipe out several older homes used for commercials purposes, the former Center Appliance and the small business complex built a few years ago between the existing curve and the overpass.

• provide a direct route for trucks accessing business and industrial parks that exist and are proposed between Lathrop and Manteca along the Airport Way corridor. It would also provide a direct truck route between Interstate 5 and Highway 99 in addition to the Highway 120 Bypass and French Camp Road.

• eliminate the modular home and trailer sales businesses on the southeast corner to accommodate northbound off and on ramps.

• relocate the East Frontage Road further east and extend it south of Lathrop Road behind developed parcels before curving back to the existing Frontage Road to provide access to Southland Road.