Airport Way is a mess.
But the solution the city had been pursuing for years would not only be expensive and not happen for years to come but it would make matters worse by bringing truck traffic from proposed business parks with upwards of 5 million square feet down Airport Way to reach the 120 Bypass.
Councilman Gary Singh, in helping lead the push to rethink how the city goes about projects to do them quicker, more efficiently and better has helped devise a workable strategy to get work started on Airport Way in the coming years instead of a decade down the road.
It involves extending Milo Candini Drive to Yosemite Avenue as an alternative route to reach Costco and nearby shopping. By taking pressure off Airport Way between Daniels Street and Yosemite the roadway will no longer need to be widened to six lanes and can go to four instead. That means there is the existing right of way to move the project forward and no need to relocate PG&E transmission lines as well as a major transmission tower to get six lanes in place. The four poles PG&E needed to relocate for the Union Road interchange project cost almost $4 million. The cost for relocating the PG&E facilities along Airport Way would be comparable.
A secondary road for truck traffic between Airport Way and the railroad will allow the movement of goods to the north to reach Roth Road and the south to reach the new McKinley interchange via Yosemite Avenue and not place trucks onto Airport Way.
The rethinking of Airport Way project to move it forward in a more timely and cost efficient manner is just one of a number of things that Singh has had a hand in during his first term as a council member.
That’s why Singh says he has no problem running on his record in his bid for another four-year term in the Nov. 3 Manteca City Council election.
“There are a lot of good things going on in Manteca,” Singh said.
Topping his list given it is key to how successful a city can be is how Manteca has stepped up engaging with its citizens.
Singh — who is at home conversing with residents via social media as he is in person or on the phone — led the charge not to just get the city up to speed on 21st century communication but to do so in a manner that increased transparency and accessibility. He led the charge for Manteca to have a Facebook page and to incorporate other social media to increase the city’s outreach efforts as well as to make it easier for people to communicate their concerns and suggestions.
Also high among accomplishments was his push and crafting the language for Measure J that increased the hotel room tax by 3 percent. Voters overwhelmingly approved the measure which is the least intrusive tax possible to fund Manteca general fund services such as police and fire given close to 100 percent of it is paid by out-of-town residents.
During the first year it was in place, the existing hotels collected an additional $300,000 in taxes on guests on top of the $900,000 they were already collecting. And when Great Wolf opens, the new tax goes 100 percent to the city to the tune of $2 million a year paid by waterpark guests in room taxes.
Among the other positive endeavors Singh has worked on as part of the council to either get in place or move forward:
*Increased police officer staffing by 12 during the past four years going from 64 to 76 positions.
*Balanced municipal budgets for the past four years.
*The completion of the 500-room Great Wolf indoor waterpark resort targeted to open in late October. Great Wolf will employ more than 500 workers. It also represents the largest private sector investment in Manteca history at $180 million.
*Working with Caltrans through the Sam Joaquin Council of Governments to move forward with congestion relief and operational upgrades to the Highway 99/120 Bypass interchange. Work will break ground in 2021.
*Completion in November of California’s first diverging diamond interchange at the 120 Bypass and Union Road. The design reduces construction costs and time significantly as it doesn’t need additional right of way nor do existing bridge structures have to be demolished. Its double “X” of lanes at each end of the bridge reduces the amount of traffic signals needed to keep traffic flowing and also has a lower potential for accidents, especially T-bone mishaps. Singh wants to see the same solutions for the interchanges at Airport Way and Main Street.
*Making Manteca Transit easier to ride by rolling out apps that keep tabs on buses and wait times. The city also expanded bus service including stops at all four high schools — Sierra, East Union, Manteca, and Be.Tech. Given Manteca Unified was forced to drop all busing except for special education and homeless students due to COVID-19 related costs it gives students an option to travel to and from school.
*The downtown paver project in the 100 to 400 blocks of North Main Street that a bid will be awarded for next month with work starting in January that will make Main Street four lanes from Lathrop Road to the 120 Bypass to reduce traffic congestion traveling through downtown.
*Working toward establishing a citywide coordinated truck route system.
*Safety improvements at Manteca High along both Yosemite Avenue and Moffat Boulevard to reduce the potential for pedestrian-vehicle collisions.
*The launching of one of the few food waste to fuel programs in the western United States to power solid waste trucks that will eventually have its fleet of almost two dozen vehicles. It reduces the amount of garbage the city landfills to reduce that cost as well as eliminating fuel bills. It also using methane gas from the wastewater treatment process that will increase air quality as the methane is no longer burned off.
*A solar farm is now being put in place that will eliminate much of the $1.5 million PG&E electric bill required to operate the wastewater treatment process.
*Working on smart growth that will include accessory dwelling units such as granny flats and garage conversions to increase available housing for younger people starting out working in Manteca and who want to live here as well as for working singles, unmarried working couples, and those needing to downsize in retirement.
Besides serving on the San Joaquin Council of Governments that oversees regional transportation endeavors, Singh also works on a regional board addressing flood and groundwater issues as well as is one of two council members on 2x2 committees that meet with counterparts from the City of Lathrop and Manteca Unified School District to work together on common issues.
Singh’s family moved to California from India when he was 3 years old.
Singh graduated from Sierra High in 2000 he was able to earn merit-based scholarships that covered half of the annual $15,000 tuition at the University of Pacific while he and his family paid the rest.
Singh decided to run for the Manteca City Council in 2016 after serving on the Manteca Planning Commission. When he was elected in 2016 he became the youngest member on the council at age 33. If he is re-elected on Nov. 3, he would still be the youngest council member.
Singh serves on the HOPE Family Shelters advisory board, the Manteca Community Foundation, as well as Sikhs for Humanity and Sikhs for Manteca that are responsible for numerous outreach efforts such as distributing thousands of free masks and bottles of hand sanitizer and helping feed wildfire victims and other efforts. He is also a member of the Manteca Rotary Club.
Singh oversees the family liquor store as well as various commercial properties. He is also a licensed real estate agent.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org