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main street
Mayor Ben Cantu wants to spend at least $23.7 million to upgrade the Main Street and 120 Bypass interchange. - photo by Photo Contributed

Mayor Ben Cantu wants the San Joaquin Council of Governments to divvy up Measure K half cent sales tax receipts for a new interchange at the 120 Bypass and Main Street plus two railroad overcrossings in Manteca.

Those three projects — based on a cost-effective diverging diamond design now being built at Union Road and the 120 Bypass and the most recent 4-lane bridge across tracks in Lathrop — will cost in excess of $60 million in today’s dollars.

That is in addition to a pair of interchanges Cantu is pushing for on the Highway 99 corridor — one at the proposed extension of Roth Road to the north and one that would extend the fledging Raymus Expressway to the freeway to the south. The two carry a combined price tag in excess of $140 million in today’s dollars. The Raymus interchange, if built, will cost at least $100 million as Highway 99 would have to be shifted to the east given the freeway hugs the railroad right-of-way. To clear the tracks and to get on and off ramps in place Highway 99 would need to be shifted as it was when the current Jack Tone Road interchange in Ripon was built to eliminate that city’s last at-grade crossing of the Union Pacific tracks.

That makes the tab for projects Cantu is advocating come in at $200 million.

The previous council dropped plans to build the two Highway 99 interchanges on the contention it wasn’t affordable and was overkill. The idea that the Raymus Expess is overkill would likely be true when the third phase of the $131 million 120 Bypass/99 fix Caltrans is pursuing is completed. The third phase — which along with the second phase has no funding yet secured to build — would make the new four-lane Austin Road overcrossing that work will start on in the fall of 2021 a fully functioning interchange that would serve most of the southeast area of the city that a Raymus Expressway interchange would. 

None of the five bridge and interchange projects being pushed by Cantu have officially been adopted by the council.

And while additional fees could be assessed on growth as well to help pay for them, the reality is state law and court rulings forbid jurisdictions from assessing new development for more than their share of impacts. That means what legally could be charged is based on how many existing households are in place when a fee is adopted. Historically depending on a road project’s location existing residents are on the hook for 40 to 60 percent of the cost.

If the assignment of use came in at 50-50 when all of the combined projects Cantu wants to pursue are tabulated that means existing residents would need to come up with $100 million.

Such heavy infrastructure and amenities needs are why Cantu has floated the idea of a communitywide Mello-Roos district on top of property taxes and growth fees.

The city is now building the $23.7 million Union Road interchange project. The $32 million project that will add ramps to create an interchange at McKinley Avenue and the 120 Bypass and widen McKinley Avenue that passes beneath it to four lanes is tentatively scheduled to break ground next year.

Work on the interchange at Main Street — as well as the Airport Way interchange — have not been adopted as capital improvement projects by the council with direction to start the lengthy process needed to clear environmental and design issues. The SCOG visionary planning for the next 30 years sees the two interchanges being built as diverging diamonds just like what is going in place at Union Road. The design does not require additional right of way, saves money, moves traffic more efficiently and reduces exposure to serious T-bone crashes.

Cantu at Tuesday’s City Council meeting lauded SJCOG for helping finance the Union Road and McKinley interchange work as well as help on the first $52.5 million phase for the upgrade of the 120 Bypass/99 interchange. The mayor, though, was critical of the agency for “not helping Manteca with more local projects” from Measure K half cent sales tax receipts.

Manteca receives roughly $1 million a year in Measure K funds for street maintenance. SJCOG has also dipped into the sales tax receipts to spend millions to help Manteca get the Lathrop Road interchange upgraded, Highway 99 through Manteca widened to six lanes, the Highway 99/Yosemite interchange upgraded, purchasing land and developing the Tidewater Bikeway, the Manteca Transit station, plus funding for interchange work at both McKinley Avenue and Union Road.

SCOG also advanced funding to allow Caltrans to elevate the 120 Bypass to full freeway stratus in the mid-1990s eight years ahead of schedule.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email