Traffic — much like water — takes the path of least resistance.
A steady growth has been seen during the past six months in yet another way to avoid the 120 Bypass to reach northern Stanislaus County that ends up funneling traffic through Ripon streets to reach Highway 99 that involves taking Interstate 580 once you enter San Joaquin County after crossing the Altamont Pass.
Such a route allows you to skirt the Interstate 205 mess and travel to the interchange with Highway 132 that brings commuters needing to cross Modesto or reach homes in the northern part of Stanislaus County too far south by putting them in the Highway 99 mess that inches through central and south Modesto.
Once on Highway 132 they swing north to reach Durham Ferry Road that turns into Airport Way when it crosses the San Joaquin River. They then turn on Trahern Road just past Division Avenue near the dairy just before the big “S” curve on Airport Way. They then take Union Road or Manteca Road to reach West Ripon Road to head into Ripon to reach Highway 99.
This route also draws traffic from Kasson Road that is coming from Tracy’s employment centers off 11th Street that includes the likes of Amazon and a host of other big employers.
On Wednesday at 3 p.m. there were 15 cars backed up on Kasson Road trying to turn east onto Durham Ferry waiting for a break in the steady eastward flow of traffic. During a 10-minute period starting at 3:10 p.m., there were 23 vehicles turning down Trahern Road. At most other times of the day you’d be lucky to see one vehicle make the turn. The same is true of Kasson Road.
This is not good news for Ripon. It means even with the coming 120 Bypass/Highway 99 interchange improvements that may slow the flow of commuters bypassing most of the 120 Bypass and much of the Highway 99 mess by getting off at Airport Way and then heading to West Ripon Road that turns into Main Street in Ripon, traffic trying to take a shortcut during afternoon commute hours may not drop off.
This creates regular backups on streets in Ripon leading to the Highway 99 southbound onramp. It has prompted the city to invest money in altering signals in a bid to discourage those using the shortcut or at least make Ripon’s streets somewhat safer and easier to navigate for local residents.
As odd as it may sound, the last thing Ripon would want to see is the interchange River Islands at Lathrop is committed to build on Interstate 205 west of Interstate 5. That’s because it would give I-205 commuters another way to skirt the afternoon commute mess after they pass thru Tracy. Currently you cannot head south on Interstate 5 from the I-205 or take an exit to do so between McArthur Boulevard in Tracy and I-5.