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Growth dictates I-5 interchange work
This guardrail was recently installed along Lathrop Road to provide a barrier between pedestrians and traffic.

How much development occurs in Lathrop – specifically in River Islands and the Central Lathrop area around Lathrop High School – and how soon it comes will determine when the city’s two main freeway offramps get a much-needed overhaul. 

Long-planned work on the Louise Avenue and Lathrop Road Interchanges, according to city staff, will depend on the development schedules of River Islands and the Central Lathrop Specific Plan that is clearing its last sets of hurdles before development is expected to begin. 

And while residential development is in full swing in Lathrop, it will likely be Louise Avenue that will get the touch-ups first now that River Islands Parkway – which Louise Avenue becomes on the western side of I-5 – extends all the way across into River Islands with the opening of the Bradshaw’s Crossing Bridge. 

While there are funding mechanisms built into existing development agreements, the sheer cost of the work needed at each of the heavily-trafficked intersections – between $20 million and $30 million – could lead to the project being phased as development occurs so that the more pressing elements, such as lane widening and wider offramps to serve the community, are incorporated sooner. 

While River Islands – which will eventually be home to more than 11,000 residences – is currently the driving residential force in Lathrop, it will be the homes that spring up out of the failed Richland Planned Communities project that has been acquired by a separate company that will ultimately lead to the city’s namesake freeway offramp getting the overhaul that the street it serves recently did. 

While steady growth is expected, the early phases of the new construction planned for Central Lathrop will likely ensure that the new pedestrian safety barriers that were approved by the city council and recently installed to protect students walking under the freeway to Lathrop High School will remain in place for years to come. 

While there may be parts of the recent safety upgrades that can be recycled, lane-widening will likely require a reworking of the current layout, although that is not expected to happen any time in the near future. 

The cost for the upgrades, when they arrive, will be paid for out of the growth fees for the areas that are impacting the traffic that the interchanges generate. 

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.