By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
New life for old entrance to Manteca
transit station
Photo courtesy LDA Architects The Manteca Transit Center on Moffat Boulevard.

Retired educator Fred Fink used to tell a story about the first time he saw Manteca.

He was living in Southern California and had applied for a Manteca Unified teaching position.

The administrator that called him for an interview — the late Harold Hughes who went on to become district superintendent — gave him directions using Highway 99 by taking the old Moffat Boulevard left turn exit on Manteca’s southern flank.

Fink recalled how he and his wife passed the old Moffat feed lot, the pulp smell on the back side of Spreckels Sugar, dilapidated gas stations, few trees, shuttered businesses, crumbling pavement, weed-infested lots, aging trailer homes, and motels that had seen their better days.

By the time he reached Main Street, they were ready to turn around. Instead they went ahead with the interview and ended up falling in love with Manteca.

Should a potential teacher enter Moffat Boulevard today en route to a job interview, the scenery would be a lot less jarring.

There are now modern business parks, a church with a sweeping architectural canopy, more than 300 trees, crisp pavement anchored by curbs, gutter, and sidewalks, a thriving community center serving as a VFW Hall a separated bike path, a recreation park with a state-of-the-art BMX track and a stunning brick transit station center complete with a clock tower.

In the coming year or so the reorientation of Manteca High to Moffat will be completed anchored by a new gym seating 2,200, a new swimming pool, and upgraded athletic facilities.

The transformation of Moffat is still underway with the city getting ready to expand parking at the transit center for when Altamont Corridor Express service starts in 2023 with weekday trains to San Jose and Stockton.

On the other end of Moffat, Caltrans is breaking ground on a project to reconfigure the Austin Road interchange on Highway 99 as part of the three-phase 120 Bypass/99 upgrades. It will also create a more robust connection to southeast Manteca replacing the angled Woodward Avenue crossing of the tracks with one that is at 90 degrees and ties into a traffic signal.

Since the new crossing  will tie into  Atherton Drive as it heads south as well as Woodward Avenue and Austin Road it will provide an easier connection for existing and future residents of homes yet to be built in the area to reach the Spreckels park commercial area, Manteca High and downtown.

And now city leaders — specifically Mayor Ben Cantu and Councilman Gary Singh — see the corridor as a way to address downtown traffic issues and pave the way for efforts to make the Yosemite Avenue more walkable by expanding sidewalks and such to encourage a private sector renaissance that could bring dining spots, entertainment concerns, and boutique shops.

Their rationale is based on the width of Moffat between Main Street and a point just short of Spreckels Avenue/Industrial Park Drive that is wide enough to easily accommodate four lanes as opposed to Yosemite Avenue’s two lanes.

Moffat can easily be widened to accommodate four lanes at a point past Cowell Avenue to Spreckels/Industrial thanks to the fact the city owns land along the Tidewater Bikeway.

Both Cantu and Singh ultimately see Moffat being extended to the west of Main Street behind the 100 and 200 blocks of West Yosemite Avenue to divert traffic off Yosemite once it crosses the tracks.

That way through traffic can avoid Yosemite making it an effective east-west bypass of downtown. At the same time concerns on the south side of Yosemite Avenue could have secondary entrances to take advantage of the additional traffic.  

Twenty-three years ago, Moffat Boulevard was one of the last few left exits for northbound traffic traveling Highway 99 through the Central Valley.

Once motorists crossed over southbound traffic on a curving bridge they were dumped onto Moffat and basically saw what Fink did.

The urban blight has slowly given way to urban renewal along what was a segment of old Highway 99.

Signs of the investment by the City of Manteca and the private sector have made over the past 20 years along Moffat can be seen from Austin Road to South Main Street.  

Among the private sector investments in recent years:

*The Crossroads Community Church complete with its JFK Airport-style canopy accent.

*The Manteca Business Park.

*The southern portion of Spreckels Park including Frito-Lay Distribution and in-line warehouses.

Among the municipal investments:

*The Spreckels Park BMX Park.

*Extending Industrial Park Drive across the railroad tracks to Moffat where it intersects with Spreckels Avenue.

*A landscaped storm basin complete with trees.

*More than 250 trees planted along the Tidewater Bikeway’s Moffat leg.

*A new water treatment plant that was also landscaped.

*The installation of curbs, gutter, and sidewalk as correction of storm drain problems from Spreckels to Main.

*Tidewater-style traffic signals at Spreckels/Industrial and Moffat.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail