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Manteca asking Uncle Sam for help with new interchange
pic ripon chamber 1
From left, Ripon Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tamara Spade and Events Director Laura Roots Spence display one of the new Ripon maps. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT/ The Bulletin

The Highway 99/Antone Raymus Expressway interchange, without a doubt has the potential of being the most expensive public works project ever tackled by the City of Manteca.

Proposed for about midway between Ripon and Manteca the actual interchange will involve crossing both the freeway and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. And because of that, it means the actual freeway will have to be shifted to the east.

The initial cost estimate made some five years ago was in the neighborhood of $150 million. Several years ago different engineers took another look and figured there was a way to accomplish the objectives for perhaps two thirds the cost if not less.

Regardless, there is little question the final cost could easily exceed $70 million to top the recent wastewater treatment plan retrofit and expansion as well as Manteca’s share of the surface water treatment plant in terms of cost

It is one reason why city leaders have identified the interchange as a project to lobby key federal bureaucrats and Congressional leaders for possible help with funding when they make the 2014 San Joaquin One Voice trip to the nation’s capital.

Another reason is the fact it is a true regional project. The placement of the interchange figures heavily into Ripon’s plans for development of the area northwest of the existing city south to the Stanislaus River. It would open much of the area south of Manteca to develop. Antone Raymus Expressway is envisioned to swing north to connect with the southern Extension of McKinley Avenue to provide a connection between the 120 Bypass and Highway 99.

And the job creation possible given that it allows full development of the envisioned Austin Road Business Park employment center could top 9,000 direct jobs to benefit the entire region.

Manteca is making improvements to the existing Austin Road interchange to accommodate trucks and other traffic associated with the first phase of the Austin Road employment center project. However, the interchange is too close to the 120 Bypass interchange to make improvements necessary to handle the volume of traffic ultimately that will be generated without severely impacting traffic flow on  both Highway 99 and the 120 Bypass.

Ripon at one point wanted to go forward with a separate interchange for the Olive Expressway as well.

Caltrans, though, required the cities to come up with one common interchange. As a result road patterns for future growth in both cities have been readjusted to connect with the proposed Antone Raymus Express interchange.

Manteca has already started preliminary work on the proposed interchange in the form of a required state document called the “Project Study Report.” It essentially will identify key components of the project.