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McKinley interchange will help drive economic prosperity for Manteca
McKinley open
Shown with one the new ramps of the McKinley Avenue interchange in the background are, from left, Sam Singh (Mayor Gary Singh’s father), Councilman Mike Morowit, former Mayor Steve DeBrum, Councilman Jose Nuno, Mayor Singh, Councilman Charlie Halford, former Councilman Richard Silverman, and Councilman Dave Breitenbucher.

Manteca’s new $27 million front door has opened.

And while the immediate impact will be a less congested and quicker way to reach Costco starting this weekend — there’s no dreaded left turn from Airport Way onto Daniels Street — the opening of the long-awaited McKinley Avenue/120 Bypass Wednesday is expected to play a key role in the city’s economic growth.

“There’s a reason why Great Wolf faces McKinley and not Airport Way,” Mayor Gary Singh noted at Wednesday’s ribbon cutting ceremonies.

That point was underscored when the 500-room indoor water park resort — the largest hotel in the Great Central Valley — was used as the ribbon cutting background instead of the new ramps.

Great Wolf and the McKinley Avenue interchange are, for want of a better word, interchangeable.

During city talks in 2017 for an indoor water parks, another contender was Kalahari Resorts that wanted to build a hotel approaching 1,000 rooms as well as a massive outdoor family amusement park that would also have had waterslides among other attractions.

Caltrans was adamant.

It would not sign off on a resort larger than 500 rooms due to 120 Bypass congestion until the city built an interchange at McKinley Avenue.

The final deal with Great Wolf includes a provision that they have an option to possible expand the Manteca resort by another 250 rooms once a second interchange was opened.

And while that may not happen, the opening of the interchange Wednesday has made the city’s 100-acre family entertainment zone bookended by Great Wolf and Big League Dreams much more marketable.

It also opens up direct access to the rapidly growing southwest Manteca where there are no less than six new neighborhoods construction with over 3,000 approved housing units in the general vicinity.

The McKinley Avenue interchange not only takes congestion off of Airport Way, but it ties in directly to the Raymus Parkway alignment now being built in sections.

That means commuters living in south Manteca will be able to access and exit the 120 Bypass at McKinley and reach homes a mile or more from the freeway off of Airport Way, Union Road, and Main Street without dealing with the notorious afternoon eastbound commute.

And, as Singh has pointed out previously, McKinley Avenue north of the 120 Bypass could become — working in conjunction with Lathrop — a truck route taking pressure off of Airport Way.

Such a truck route that relies on the McKinley interchange would open up eastern Lathrop along the railroad tracks to more intense industrial development.

The same would be true of northwest Manteca as truck traffic could connect with McKinley Avenue and avoid Lathrop residential areas.

Planning for the interchange started in 2003 with actual construction getting underway in 2022.

The foundational funding for the $27 million interchange was $6.4 million in redevelopment agency funds.

The redevelopment agency mechanism, which no longer exists, was designed to provide funding for endeavors that would boost local economies.

RDA funding allowed Manteca to build the original extension of Daniels Street to allow the development of the Stadium Retail Center and Costco.

It also paid for the final connection to McKimley Avenue. In doing so, it made the development of Great Wolf possible and has opened up the family entertainment zone to development.

RDA funds also helped build the Big League Dreams sports complex among numerous other endeavors around Manteca.



 Manteca’s first partial

cloverleaf interchange

 The McKinley interchange is the city’s first partial cloverleaf. But in order to save money the city opted to build the inner ramp loops at a later date.

That means traffic until then will have all left turns from McKinley Avenue to 120 Bypass onramps go through signalized intersections just as they currently do at the Airport, Union, and Main interchanges.

Northbound McKinley Avenue traffic is now able to get onto westbound 120 without going through a traffic signal as is southbound McKinley to eastbound 120.

It includes a separated bike lane underneath the 120 Bypass that connects with the Atherton Drive bike path to provide access to Big League Dreams and the envisioned family entertainment zone.

Ultimately it will be a link in a separated bicycle pathway that loops the city going along McKinley Avenue north to connect with a path that cuts behind Del Webb at Woodbridge that crosses Union Road and ties into the Tidewater Bikeway. The Tidewater then heads south and ties in with the Atherton Drive Bikeway via Industrial Park Drive and Van Ryn Avenue. 

The McKinley Avenue interchange is also part of the long-range circulation plan for Manteca south of the 120 Bypass where more than 60 percent of the city’s population is expected to be by 2040.

 Motorists will have perhaps a month or so of being able to drive the 120 Bypass without freeway construction.

In mid-July, the first-phase of the $154 million upgrade of the Highway 99/120 Bypass and Austin Road interchanges starts.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email