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Atherton gap: The road to more retail
Atherton gap
Crews started work on the Atherton Drive gap project Thursday. - photo by DENNIS WYATT

You might just see a water truck, a tractor and an earth mover.

Mayor Steve DeBrum sees more jobs, shopping opportunities, sales tax revenue to support city services, and even traffic relief for Woodward Avenue.

Ground work started Thursday on the long-awaited $4.4 million bridging of the Atherton Drive gap between Union Road and a point east of Airport Way.

“It (Atherton Drive) is important for our economy,” DeBrum said. “It will get things going.”

Atherton Drive will be constructed to the full four lanes and center median from Union Road west past the proposed commercial development and then reducedt to two lanes plus the center median. The other two lanes will be built as adjoining land develops.

The funding of the road itself is being paid for with fees growth pays to cover the cost of new major street projects.

The City Council made Atherton Drive a top priority in the current year’s budget. 

Bids were awarded in January. Before work could start on the actual road way critical South San Joaquin Irrigation District work within the right-of-way needed to be done.

Developers noted once Atherton Drive is built they would be able to secure retail stores.

The first to agree to build a store along the extension now being built is Living Spaces Furniture that will open a 130,000-square-foot showroom/warehouse on 10 acres. The Southern California firm is projecting annual sales of $35 million at the high-profile location. They will employ 65 full-time workers, 25-part-time workers and throughout a given year have 50 temporary workers. The store will be slightly smaller than Costco’s 140,000-square-foot Manteca store.

The city is expected to collect $175,000 in Measure M public safety sales tax and $350,000 in local sales tax on an annual basis. Half of the local sales tax will be split with the furniture firm over 10 years or until the amount reaches $3 million — whichever comes first.

Developers are working with a number of prospects for the remaining 50 acres include a grocery store, hotel, and a drug store. 

The Atherton Drive project is expected to pull traffic off of Woodward Avenue as it would start functioning as the south Manteca thoroughfare allowing traffic to get off the 120 Bypass and to travel to where Atherton Drive now intersects Woodward Avenue near Moffat Boulevard.

That will especially be true when traffic tie-ups or accidents at the 99/120 interchange on the eastbound 120 Bypass prompts vehicles to exit the freeway and head down Woodward Avenue to reach Highway 99.

At the same time Atherton Drive punched through to Airport Way will likely change traffic patterns for residents south of the 120 Bypass and even east Manteca. That’s because they could take Atherton Drive — designed as a thoroughfare with minimal intersections to reach Costco and the Stadium Retail Center that is a top shopping destinations without getting on the 120 Bypass.

 To contact Dennis Wyatt, email