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Bypass backup may be thru Manteca but Ripon is bearing the brunt of traffic mess
Commuters get off the freeway system in Tracy — and sometimes Manteca — and use backroads to go through Ripon to rejoin Highway 99 before the river to avoid congestion such as is shown. - photo by Bulletin file photo

Manteca residents may grumble about afternoon backups on Moffat Boulevard and Woodward Avenue from commuters that live south of the Stanislaus River returning from Bay Area and Tracy jobs trying to avoid the daily 120 Bypass backup but it is nothing compared to the traffic congestion they create on Ripon streets.

It is common during the afternoon streets for Stockton Avenue, Main Street, and other Ripon streets to be jammed with upwards of 300 vehicles by people cutting through the countryside.

Most head south out of Tracy to take backroads to cross the San Joaquin River via Durham Ferry Road/Airport Way and head into south Ripon via Moncure Road or get off the freeway in Manteca at Airport Way and take West Ripon Road into downtown Ripon. Both routes dump vehicles back on Highway 99 at Main Street just before the Stanislaus River bridge.

And when there are accidents or the 120 Bypass and Highway 99 rolling parking lots slow down to a snail’s pace technology via navigation apps dumps even more cut through traffic on Ripon Streets.

It also doesn’t help that truck traffic on both the Highway 99 and 120 Bypass corridors is increasing each month or that work on the Highway 99 river crossing is expected to take more than a year to complete.

The City of Ripon has distributed an information bulletin to city residents updating them on efforts being taken to ease the situation.

Municipal staff notes that substantial relief won’t likely come any sooner than 2024.

That is when the first part of the $131.5 million three-phase to increase the capacity and improvement traffic movements centered on the 120 Bypass/Highway 99 interchange in Manteca is expected to be completed. Funding has only been identified for the first phase that will cost $54.4 million. The goal is to award the contract in the summer of 2021, start construction in the fall of 2021, and have work on the first phase completed by the fall of 2023.

That first phase would:

widen the connector from the eastbound Bypass to southbound Highway 99 to two lanes.

replace the existing Austin Road overcrossing with a new bridge that would also would go over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

swing Woodward Avenue south to connect with Austin Road.

relocate the current at-grade Woodward Avenue crossing of the railroad tracks to reach Moffat Boulevard so vehicles cross the tracks at 90 degrees. This would be a new, short road that only goes from the new alignment of Woodward Avenue to Moffat Boulevard.

temporarily shut down the southbound off ramp and northbound on ramp at Austin Road and the Highway 99 interchange.

build a new northbound off ramp to Highway 99 at Austin Road.

The configuration would allow traffic to use Moffat Boulevard — which would flow under Austin Road — to access southbound Highway 99 as it currently does.

Starting this month Ripon will be taking steps to ease the traffic congestion somewhat.

The timing of traffic signals along Main Street will be adjusted to reduce the impact of cut-through traffic congestion and better accommodate changing traffic patterns.

This will involve metering the number of vehicles entering Ripon at the Jack Tone and Main Street traffic signal. Once the number of vehicles traveling eastbound on West Ripon Road reaches a certain threshold, the traffic signal at Jack Tone and Main will automatically be adjusted to begin metering the number of vehicles entering Ripon in order to reduce the congestion caused by vehicles bypassing the freeway.

Turn restrictions may be implemented in the future on Reuss Road and Highland Avenue if motorists attempt to avoid the Main/Jack Tone signal by driving on these streets. 

Ripon also will coordinate the timing of traffic signals located on Main Street at Robert Avenue and Wilma Avenue. The programming of the traffic signals along Main Street will be synchronized to allow motorists to more efficiently travel along Main Street with minimal stops and delays

The City of Ripon Bulletin noted Caltrans expects to activate ramp metering in early 2020. Doing so is expected to ease congestion enough via smoother traffic movement to encourage commuters to stay in the freeways.

The extension of the Altamont Corridor Express service to Ceres by 2023 with stops in Ripon and Modesto as well as downtown Manteca is also expected to at help the commute traffic situation.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email