Work could start as by early 2021 on widening Airport Way between Yosemite Avenue and Wawona Street from two lanes to four lanes along with a median/middle turn lane
But to do so, no sidewalks will be put in place and traffic traveling at 45 mph will come within 8 to 15 feet of the front yards of homes along the stretch until a subsequent widening phase that could be 10 years or more away.
The Manteca City Council last week heard an update on efforts to address segment of Airport Way that is arguably the most congested two-lane main arterial in Manteca.
At the same time the city is working toward extending Milo Candini Drive where it now terminates at the northern end of the Big League Dreams sports complex and extending it north to Yosemite Avenue. That would provide another way to travel to and from Yosemite Avenue to reach the heavily visited Costco as well as the Stadium Retail Center.
By going with a widening to four lanes sans sidewalks, the city avoids expensive and time consuming right of way purchase as well as the need to initially relocate or bury PG&E transmission lines.
Mayor Ben Cantu — while expressing reservations with having front yards that close to travel lanes was not optimum — agreed that the city had no other option if they wanted to widen Airport Way within a reasonable time.
The direction the city is going in allows them to do improvements outlined with money that is now available as well as slash at least three to five years for the first phase to start construction. The first phase was always going to take the corridor to four lanes. By disconnecting securing right of way for the fifth and sixth lanes as well as improvements such as curbs, gutters, and sidewalks the construction of the third and fourth travel lanes is expected to start in the next 11 to 14 months.
Councilman Jose Nuño asked whether sidewalk could be placed at least on one side of the street. Nuño was told there would be inadequate right-of-way once the two additional travel lanes and the median are added.
“I travel though there (Airport Way) all the times and I see the craziness,” Nuño said.
Under the city’s game plan, adding more lanes to go from four to six travel lanes after the first phase work will be on the back of developers as they repurpose properties that now have homes on them are repurposed for commercial or light industrial uses.
Traffic on Airport Way is expected to keep increasing as Manteca grows due to the commercial around Costco, more distribution centers opening up along Airport Way, as well as the emerging family entertainment zone that’s anchored by Big League Dreams and the Great Wolf resort.
The goal is also to extend Milo Candini north of Yosemite Avenue north to serve the proposed Exeter NorCal Inland Commerce Center on the southwest corner of Louise Avenue and Airport Way.
The Exeter project would consist of seven high-cube warehouse buildings of various sizes with a combined floor area of 3.9 million acre feet. One of the buildings would be able to expand by 234,360 square feet for an overall total of 4.2 million square feet. By comparison CenterPoint — the largest approved business park in Manteca — will eventually have 3.1 million square feet of distribution centers.
Such an extension would keep trucks from the proposed business park off Airport Way.
That extension is envisioned to continue north toward Roth Road to serve as a truck route for other business parks.
One resident spoke before the council expressing his concern that the city wasn’t pursuing at least a sidewalk on one side of Airport Way for the safety of children walking to and from school — specifically Sierra High.
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