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Plan aims at keeping people, goods moving on 4 corridors
120 bypass

Immediately north of the Manteca Unified school farm sits a key component in efforts to keep South County freeways from turning into around-the-clock rolling parking lots by 2045.

It’s dubbed the Lathrop Wye — a turning junction, if you will, that allows Union Pacific trains that originate up and down the Central Valley to move to the rail line that heads to San Jose.

It is there, on the edge of the Sharpe Army Depot that a new North Lathrop rail passenger station is expected to be built.

This is where one day Altamont Corridor Express trains running into the job rich Silicon Valley will interconnect with the envisioned Valley Link system that will provide rail connection service to the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station. The Wye is also where ACE as early as 2023 will have a transfer point allowing commuters to travel by rail from as far south as Ceres to reach San Jose or Sacramento.

The expanded ACE service — that will include new stops in downtown Manteca as well as Ripon and Modesto — is being funded with almost $1 billion in a deal that sealed the vote to impose a 12 cent gas tax with annual adjustments for inflation under Senate Bill 1. The legislation called for the service extended south to Ceres that will involve double tracking to be up and running by 2023.

But there is also another $5.4 billion in annual increased gas tax revenue that could be wedded with the Measure K half cent sales tax as well as other state and federal sources to possibly fund part of the 53 projects identified so far to improve traffic flow on four congested South County corridors — the 120 Bypass, Highway 99, Interstate 205, and Interstate 5 — that are only expected to get worse as the San Joaquin County population as well as demand for the movement of goods grows.

You could board ACE train 

in downtown Manteca & travel

 to either Sacramento on San Jose

That is why the San Joaquin Council of Governments working with Caltrans and other local agencies such as the cities of Manteca, Lathrop, Tracy and Ripon is devising a Congested Corridor Plan. The first workshop seeking public input to the plan was conducted Tuesday at the Manteca Transit Center.

It is a holistic approach. It doesn’t simply address cars, trucks, rail transit, buses, bicycles and pedestrians but also air quality and development patterns — primarily establishing more jobs on this side of the Altamont Pass and more robust retail — to reduce out of region commuting as well as the need to travel to other cities for shopping.

As it stands now in terms of rail planning, if you lived in the Tesoro Apartments at Van Ryn and Atherton Drive you would be able to catch a Manteca Transit bus at a stop next to your complex or bicycle/walk the Tidewater Bikeway to reach the Manteca Transit station. Once there you could take an ACE train all the way to Sacramento. Or you could switch trains at the Lathrop Wye station to either travel to San Jose or grab a Valley Link train to connect with BART to head into the East Bay, San Francisco and down the Peninsula.

Once ACE service is extended at some point as far as North Natomas you could catch flights at Sacramento Airport by taking a short shuttle bus trip.

Fred Choa — a representative of Fehr & Peers Transportation Consultants — outlined what the rapidly growing South County is up against.

u85 percent of the vehicles heading over the Altamont Pass are occupied only by the driver.

uSan Joaquin County, with a current population of 746,000, will have 1.1 million residents by 2045. Not only will more residents add pressure to the four corridors that are already congested but so will growth in Stanislaus County as well as continued expansion of the movement of goods.

u100,000 new jobs will be created in San Joaquin County by 2045.

Goal is to increase non-car

 travel by 50 percent

Rail and busses play a key role in reducing congestion. One bus can remove 40 to 50 cars off the road. One train can take upwards of 500 cars off the road. That not only helps ease congestion but reduces pollution.

The goals that target not just congestion relief by also improved air quality include:

ureducing per capita mileage driven by 12 percent.

ureducing driver only trips by 5 percent.

uincreasing travel by rail, bus, bicycle, and on foot to jobs and shopping and other destinations by 50 percent.

Of the 53 significant improvements being proposed 16 are on Interstate 205, 15 on the 120 Bypass, 14 on Interstate 5, and eight on Highway 99.

Some of it won’t be in the form of more pavement, additional rail or adding buses. Instead it will involve the latest technology for real time traffic management.

Among the items it would include are:

uelectronic message boards displaying drive time in minutes to various destinations based on real time traffic monitoring.

ucoordinating traffic signals on surface streets at and near interchanges to take into account freeway traffic flows.

ureal time detour information when accidents or other issues create major traffic backups that give specific suggestions such as what exit to take and what onramp to return to the freeway in the quickest time to get around a problem. You would also be able to check an app while still at home to decide if it might be wiser based on traffic conditions to take a bus or train instead.

The first phase of one of the projects — efforts to improve flow through the 120 Bypass and Highway 99 interchange — has funding identified and is targeted to break ground in the summer of 2022. The first phase will add an additional transition lane from the eastbound Bypass to southbound Highway 99. There is currently one Bypass lane that goes north and one south despite the fact 80 percent of the traffic is heading toward Modesto. 

SCOG is looking at a number of freeway enhancements including running either dedicated and protected bus lanes down the median of Interstate 205 or else transit trains.

It was noted that simply taking a bus doesn’t reduce travel time as you are still caught in traffic. Dedicated bus lanes that lead to less time on the road would draw more riders and reduce congestion.

120 Bypass may ultimately

be widened to 8 lanes with

auxiliary lanes as well

Among potential improvements to the 120 Bypass are:

uadding auxiliary lanes between the Yosemite Avenue and the new McKinley Avenue interchange, between McKinley Avenue and the Airport Way interchange, and between the Main Street and Highway 99 interchanges. Auxiliary lanes are already going in between Union Road and at Airport Way and Main Street interchanges as part of the diverging diamond interchange being put in place at Union Road.

uinitially widening the 120 Bypass to six lanes. After that widening it to eight lanes to accommodate high occupancy vehicles or high occupancy transit such as buses

ureconstruct both the Airport Way and Main Street interchanges to diverging diamond interchanges along with Class I Bike Path separated path as is now happening at Union Road.

umaking improvements to the Yosemite Avenue/120 Bypass interchange.

uadding ramp metering along the 120 Bypass.

Among the projects envisioned for Highway 99 is widening it to eight lanes from Yosemite Avenue (East Highway 120) to Kiernan Avenue (Highway 219) to accommodate high occupancy vehicle or high occupancy transit lanes.

The San Joaquin Council of Governments is conducting two additional workshops this week to seek input from the public on the four corridors.

The workshops are:

uThursday, Sept. 12, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Tracy Transit Center, 50 East Sixth St., in Tracy.

uSaturday, Sept. 14, from 10 a.m. until noon at the Mountain House Community Services board room, 230 Sterling Drive Suite 100, in Mountain House.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email