A Northland Road resident who was among those speaking before the Manteca City Council Tuesday regarding land use proposals for the general plan update that sets the stage for major roadways, asked where the envisioned Roth Road extension would be placed when it crosses Highway 99 heading east.
Mayor Ben Cantu contended the decision impacting rural Northeast Manteca was easily 30 years in the future noting “you and I won’t be alive” when it a decision needs to be made.
Cantu’s forecast of when rural residents have to start worrying about the City of Manteca’s designs on paving over their lifestyles contrasts with the reality Fig Avenue residents Mary Rollins and dozens of her neighbors in rural South Manteca have dealt with.
For the past 10 years they have been told by city officials not to worry about an alignment of what is now known as Raymus Expressway that then Deputy City Engineer Frederic Clark told them in a meeting back in 2009 in the Manteca Library McFall Room would not happen for at least 30 years.
The city, just 10 years later instead of 30 years, is now moving toward a decision on the expressway’s exact alignment after having developers dedicate portions of it in a piecemeal fashion.
“We do not want an expressway that goes behind our houses, divides out property, and (in some cases) goes through our houses,” Rollins said in regards to a “conceptual” alignment for Raymus Expressway the city just unveiled.
Rollins was told once again it was just a line and the actual alignment wouldn’t be determined until after the traffic circulation study was conducted based on the preferred land use map the council adopted Tuesday. That mirrors the answer residents received roughly a decade ago but once the land use map was adopted the subsequent traffic circulation element was adopted with what the city called a “broad corridor” with several possible scenarios. Meanwhile as the city approved various new neighborhoods in South Manteca they required developers to set aside specific land for an expressway that a City Council has never adopted a formal route for it.
Mayor Cantu alluded to the situation when he asked why Raymus Express was shown as a sweeping S-curve through the recently approved 1,301-home Griffin Park. He was told that is what the council adopted when they approved Griffin Park earlier this year.
The city basically has ended up taking a piecemeal approach to avoid forcing the issue with rural south Manteca residents who see their homes threatened. But as more of the route has been done in piecemeal fashion, the more limited the options are to avoiding the homes located on either country estates or what some may refer to as small working hobby farms.
Rollins on Tuesday argued the entire concept of the Raymus Express that was originally rolled out to connect two business park projects that never made it off the drawing board — Tara Business Park on McKinley south of the 120 Bypass and Austin Road Business Park near Highway 99 — is superfluous. That is because at mile intervals in south Manteca there are four lane corridors planned that will connect to the freeway — McKinley Avenue, Airport Way, Union Road, Main Street, and Austin Road.
The farthest point south Manteca can develop is 2½ miles south of the 120 Bypass or almost the same exact distance Lathrop Road in the north is from the 120 Bypass.
Cantu spoke several times about the need to plan traffic circulation correctly years before it is needed to avoid what he calls “traffic jams” that he contends now exist throughout the city.
The mayor — a planner by trade who spent 30 years playing a role in how the City of Manteca has grown — dominated council input on the preferred land use discussion.
In doing so he gave a clear picture that he believes the general plan process is not about whether Manteca should expand into a rural area but how it should expand based on the assumption growth is inevitable.
That is a different view than a lot of rural residents have expressed over the years who argue the city doesn’t have to grow into the countryside.
The traffic circulation element will be addressed once the land use map alternatives the City Council told staff they preferred is vetted.
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