The Lathrop City Council has already reworked the plans to widen Lathrop Road in order to impact as few property owners as possible.
But as they learned Monday night, when you’re talking about taking the road that runs through the heart of the city – and past some of the oldest homes in the community – and widening it to accommodate twice as much traffic as it sees today within the next 15 years, there are lots of emotions involved.
While they didn’t formally vote on the proposal Monday night, the council heard from more than a dozen residents who are concerned that the proposal – part of a larger plan that will turn Lathrop Road as a major pass-through from Highway 99 to Interstate 5 – who are worried that the enhanced traffic will forever change the way that they go about their daily lives.
Per the council’s proposed plan, only three property owners along the south side of Lathrop Road will be affected by the widening project. All three have been offered fair market value for the portion of their property that is not already part of the City of Lathrop’s right-of-way. While the Lathrop City Council wants the city’s planners to do everything possible to prevent it, one of the homeowners said that there was eminent domain paperwork in her legal documents – showing that it’s a possibility.
Lathrop and San Joaquin County have already invested millions of dollars into upgrades – chiefly the two at grade crossings over the railroad tracks that stopped traffic along Lathrop Road – and the City of Manteca worked in conjunction with the San Joaquin Council of Governments and Caltrans to renovate the Lathrop Road interchange at Highway 99 to help prepare for the explosion in traffic that are planners are expecting between now and 2030.
According to a presentation from Lathrop City Engineer Glen Gebhardt – who helped create the precise plan line in 1994 that forecasted the widening of Lathrop Road – currently the trips vary from 1,100 per hour in the morning to 1,300 in the evening and will more than double to 2,500 in the morning and 2,880 in the evening within the next 30 years.
In order for that to happen, Lathrop Road would have to be widened to accommodate the additional traffic. Both of the grade separations were constructed to allow for two lanes in each direction, and the City of Manteca is expected to broach that subject in the coming years as well.
But that work will come at a cost. Homeowners who now park in front of their homes would no longer be able to do so, and at-home mail delivery would be replaced by cluster mailboxes somewhere in the neighborhood – eliminating the one-time rural feel that the homes had when they were first constructed.
One woman named Margaret, who has lived at Lathrop Road home since 1963, summarized her feelings to the council as growth envelops everything around her home which at one time stood on its own.
“It’s tough when you move into a house when there’s nobody else around you and then you look around and – there you are,” she said somberly.
A representative from the church congregation at the corner of Lathrop Road and Rev. Maurice Cotton Drive – named after the founder of the church – said that they have looked into getting a historical designation for the building, and even examined the possibility of moving the building to allow for more space. Under the current proposal, the on-street parking in front of the church, which is technically the city’s right-of-way, would be eliminated and drastically alter access the building, and the way that congregants interact during services.
The council will revisit the matter at a future meeting for a formal decision. Staff is expected to take the public’s concerns addressed at the meeting on Monday and work them into that proposal to minimize the impact on the community and its residents.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.