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Lathrop city manager shreds Manteca proposal
lathrop road t6ruck
A truck heads down Lathrop Road in Manteca.

It took traffic engineer Fred Choa almost an hour to explain the intricacies of Manteca’s proposed truck route plan to facilitate tractor trailers on streets as the city grows.

It took two local officials — Manteca Mayor Ben Cantu and Lathrop City Manager Steve Salvatore — that will be directly impacted by the performance of that plan five minutes to explain very succinctly that what is being proposed simply won’t work.

During an online meeting on Wednesday of the group that is preparing the circulation element of the City of Manteca’s upcoming general plan update – of which the truck route plan will be a part – Choa, a Principal Engineer from Fehr and Peers that was hired to execute elements of the plan, detailed the breakdown of the multiple zones within Manteca’s city limits but focused heavily on the proposed route that will divert truck traffic off of Airport Way between CenterPoint anchored by 5.11 Tactical and the 120 Bypass.

The plan calls for the construction of a spine road that will run largely between Airport Way and the tracks to divert truck traffic. A section would have to cross the Union Pacific Railroad Lathrop Wye tracks twice providing an obstacle with creating continuity and requiring truck traffic to divert back on Airport Way – something that Salvatore took issue with along with the concept of the spine road itself and its proposed success.

“Trucks would be making 7 or 8 turns before they get onto Highway 120 and they will not do that – both the California legal and STAA trucks. All of those trucks are directed out to Roth Road or they come down and go down Lathrop Road – meaning our police services have to come out and try and stop that,” Salvatore said. “The truck route map in my mind is a very long-term plan – you can’t build certain things until certain pieces of infrastructure would be put in place.”

According to Salvatore, the idea of the spine road might work in concept, but pointed out the issue of getting the road past the Union Pacific Railroad Wye and another segment that he said would make it next to impossible to construct – forcing those trucks to then take the fastest route back to the freeway will likely take them through Lathrop which creates a whole set of problems for his city.

One of his residents that opposed the widening of Lathrop Road because it will turn it into a magnet for the longer 53-foot STAA trucks had a letter read into the record addressing her concerns. Another Lathrop resident expressed concern about McKinley Avenue – which will eventually have its own interchange with the Highway 120 Bypass to provide access to the growth taking place in that area – becoming a STAA truck route.

According to Salvatore, he has no immediate plans to turn McKinley Avenue into a STAA truck route – creating a possible disagreement between Lathrop and Manteca since the road runs through both jurisdictions.

Manteca Mayor Cantu was initially called to speak first during the public  comment portion of the meeting but deferred to Salvatore and then largely backed him up before declaring that he was going to go back to the City Council and ask that the proposal be reworked because it’s strayed from what is feasible.

“I don’t disagree with Steve,” Cantu said matter-of-factly. “The study needs to be re-centered – it has strayed from what it should have been.

“I’m going to be asking the City Manager to sit down and rework the whole thing – it’s going sideways. That’s my comment.”

The proposed route plan includes the sections of Manteca that has always had truck circulation plans – Airport Way, Spreckels Park, and the Austin Road Business Park – but included a new portion of land envisioned for industrial uses in the northeastern corner of the city.

Choa said that the proposal that was shared on Wednesday – the third iteration of the route plan – will focus mainly on relieving truck congestion along Airport Way by utilizing the Intermodal Way spine road as well as Wawona Avenue, Milo Candini Way, and the yet-to-be-built McKinley Avenue Interchange.

Salvatore said that he felt the proposal was a step backwards in alleviating congestion along Airport Way because it would violate some elements of the congestion plan that was already put into place – like routing traffic from the spine road back onto Airport Way for the section that can’t cross the Union Pacific Railroad Tracks.

“I don’t want to put trucks past our residents just like Manteca doesn’t want to put trucks past their residents – I do appreciate that you aren’t going to put trucks past your residents, but you can’t put them past mine either,” Salvatore said during his comments. “Airport Way was in the congestion management plan and I would like to know from you, Fred, how we got from the congestion management plan to this and what mechanisms there are to change that.

“There are lots of elements of the congestion management plan that should weigh in on this.”

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.