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99 spill snarls commute traffic in Ripon, Manteca
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Commute traffic is backed on Mulholand Drive in Ripon on Monday afternoon following and accident on Highway 99.

High tech devices designed to assist drivers around traffic snarls compounded the traffic mess created when a big rig truck spilled its load on northbound Highway 99 just south of Hammet Road after 3 p.m. Monday.

Motorists trying to get from Modesto to San Joaquin County were facing two hour delays as late as 6 p.m. with some trying to find a way around the back up. Complicating their effort was the fact the Highway 99 bridge is the only overcrossing of the Stanislaus River for more than 10 miles to both the east and the west.

Ripon residents reported seeing traffic backed up on neighborhood streets as GPS systems sent those trying to get around the southbound backup that had extended onto the 120 Bypass in Manteca on streets failed to get them where they wanted to go.

The traffic mess all started with a load of five-gallon buckets of wallboard paste that was dumped across the Highway 99 freeway lanes when a northbound truck’s load shifted south of Hammet Road literally gluing up commute traffic.  

The truck came to a rest on the right edge of the road with what appeared to have been a type of shrink wrap tape holding the buckets in place that had been torn.  

The buckets dumped the paste across the lanes which kept traffic at bay and motorists held to a minimum delay of two hours to reach Manteca. Rubber necking at the accident scene just as the afternoon commute got underway caused backups of southbound traffic at one point as far to the west as the 120 Bypass just short of Interstate 5 and on Highway 99 north of Lathrop Road.

The Ripon Consolidated Fire District provided mutual aid with the Salida Fire Department on the call having to thread through heavy freeway traffic already backed up into Ripon and beyond as they attempted to enter the south bound lanes. 

Ripon resident John Mangelos said he was surprised to see commute traffic coming by his home on Mulholland Drive in the late afternoon and asked one of the motorists driving by where they had come from. The neighborhood is just north of a Highway 99 northbound on ramp that has been closed due to construction.  Drivers told him their vehicle’s GPS systems were sending them from Yosemite Avenue and Highway 99 in Manteca to the rural Jack Tone Road to the east and then south into the surface streets of Ripon enroute to Modesto. Many said they had become totally lost with some having been backed up in traffic on Murphy and Jack Tone roads to the northeast of Ripon trying to get across the river into Stanislaus County. 

There were no injuries reported in the incident.  Another crash involving three vehicles minutes earlier occurred on eastbound Highway 120 Bypass where it connects with south bound Highway 99 just south of Manteca.  

To contact Glenn Kahl, email