Manteca Mayor Steve DeBrum made a pitch to the ultimate decision makers Wednesday for state investment of gas tax into $81.6 million of upgrades to the Highway 99 interchanges with the 120 Bypass and Austin Road for what many view as not just a major safety project but also as a vital interchange to the NorCal Megaregion economy.
DeBrum spoke before a meeting of the California Transportation Commission being hosted by the San Joaquin Council of Governments for a two-day meeting in Stockton.
The mayor has helped lead a regional effort that is seeking to get work started on a solution to address safety, operational, and congestion issues as early as 2022. SJCOG has tentatively identified $23 million in local sources for the project.
DeBrum related how over a five-year period that the six-mile stretch of the 120 Bypass experienced 1,261 collisions, 815 injuries, and 11 fatalities. A number of fender benders go unreported given they do not require emergency response. Those numbers make the 120 Bypass the deadliest stretch of freeway in the three-county Northern San Joaquin Valley region.
It has also become a major chokepoint not just for commuters but also the movement of goods. The situation gets worse with each passing month as more concerns shift distribution centers and similar operations to the South County to be central to 17 million plus consumers in the NorCal Megaregion that includes San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, and Sacramento. At the same time the South County as well as Modesto and Stockton continues to grow as the de facto affordable housing solution for the job-rich Bay Area.
DeBrum noted the 12 cent gas tax authorized by Senate Bill 1 is critical to efforts to move the $81.6 million solution forward.
Work on the 120 Bypass/Highway 99 interchange was not identified as a need on the 20-year transportation planning horizon until Manteca started contacting jurisdictions in the region to help them realize that much of the goods movement being choked as well as carnage often effects their economies and residents who commute more so than Manteca residents.
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