On the surface it seemed like a typical city council agenda item – the creation of the North Manteca sewer trunk line and designation of one of two potential routes authorized for use by truck traffic.
Design, after all, for the trunk line on one alignment was ready to go. Plus a segment of the trunk line at a less critical juncture along Union Road between the golf course and Louise Avenue had failed over a year ago. Then there was the somber warning from public works staff that the final segment of the trunk line going into the wastewater treatment could fail at any time cutting off sewer service to 40,000 residents
But as the discussion about whether to extend the trunk line down Swanson Road or along the yet-to-be-constructed extension of Milo Candini Drive north of Yosemite Avenue proved at the Manteca City Council meeting Tuesday night, it was anything but typical.
After hearing what Koosun Kim, Manteca’s deputy director of public works, had to say about the three proposals before the council – building the sewer line along the extension route of Milo Candini Drive and designating that a truck route, building it along Swanson Road and designating that a truck route, or building it along Swanson Road and designating Milo Candini Drive a truck route – the council discussed the merits of turning a relatively small country road into a truck route capable of handling 53-foot STAA trucks as opposed to the wider, but currently unconstructed, extension of Milo Candini Drive.
And the fact that the city would need to take such an extensive amount of right-of-way from property owners along Swanson Road in order to make it a truck route had the majority of the council shying away from encroaching so heavily onto people’s properties.
That is until four members of the Swanson Family – who still live on the rural road that intersections with Yosemite Avenue not far from Airport Way – got up and all but begged the council to not only extend the sewer line along their properties but also to create the kind of truck route that most residents would want to stay far away from.
That’s because, as the family pointed out, most of them have sold their properties to a single developer that plans to operate a truck yard that would benefit from the access. They also paid $1,100 for the guarantee of spurs and caps to be added onto the sewer truck line so that if they ever needed to connect to the city’s system for sewer or water, they would be able to do so.
For a brief while that appeared to steer the direction towards honoring their wishes.
And then neighbor Don Collins approached the lectern and offered up two pieces of paper to the council that he says guarantees the city the necessary right-of-way to build the truck route along Milo Candini Drive – permission slips, he said, from the property owners that guarantee that it won’t the city a dime to acquire the land necessary.
Manteca City Attorney John Brinton confirmed after examination that one of the two forms did appear to promise the city a 15-foot encroachment, but the other did not legally contain the information that Collins said it did.
After almost an hour of debate – and Mayor Ben Cantu asking pointed questions of Kim about what he saw as deficiencies in this presentation – the council opted to push the sewer line through Swanson Road but left the STAA truck route off the table for the time being.
Councilman Dave Breitenbucher reiterated the need to push through the trunk line regardless of what the council chose to do with the truck route because “40,000 residents are dependent on it” and noted that the line in question had previously failed and could have had disastrous consequences.
Councilman Gary Singh noted that the city has already invested seven years of work and $970,000 on the Swanson Road sewer trunk alignment. He added Manteca spent $1.5 million for the diverging diamond design for the Union Road and 120 Bypass interchange compared to $970,000 for the quarter mile alignment of the main sewer trunk line that would run down Swanson Road.
While Cantu initially suggested the breaking apart of the two items, he was the lone dissenting vote on the item.
The trunk replacement project that will cost around $12 million will also be sized to accommodate future growth in north Manteca. The money spent on the design work so far as well as the actual construction is being funded through monthly payments made by those in Manteca that access sewer service.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.