As much as the San Joaquin River impacts Manteca in terms of flood protection costs as well as fish and drought-related issues that threaten the city’s drinking water, there is no access to California’s second longest river from the city’s bicycle or pedestrian paths.
Consultants hired to fashion an update of the Manteca general plan to serve as a blueprint for Manteca growth as it heads toward a projected population of 124,500 in 2040, are proposing language to have bicycle and pedestrian connections to the river and other regional open space corridors a goal and/or policy for the city.
It is one of a number of draft policies being reviewed by the citizens General Plan Advisory Committee when they meet Monday at 6 p.m. for a public workshop at the Manteca Transit Center, 220 Moffat Blvd. The general plan is essentially a blueprint for growth and contains goals and policies along with general concepts on how to implement them.
It won’t be the first time such ideas have been floated as policies that ending up being adopted as part of the general plan.
And if past history is any indication, the policy — while based in good intentions — will essentially be dead on adoption.
The document being reviewed Monday has a suggested policy implementation of providing “an interconnecting system of open space corridors that incorporate bicycle and pedestrian paths within the urbanized area that connect to regional open space corridors such as the San Joaquin River.”
Along with that implementation goal is a proposed policy to “provide and preserve a network of diverse and accessible open spaces” to contribute to the city’s inventory of open spaces. Examples it gives of possible open space to preserve involve waterways that include the San Joaquin River, Lone Tree Creek (Littlejohn Creek) north of French Camp Road that runs under Highway 99, Oakwood Lake and Walthall Slough that originates west of the intersection of West Ripon Road and Airport Way and flows into San Joaquin River sooth of Oakwood Lake.
Unlike in Lathrop, no part of the City of Manteca connects with the San Joaquin River. Oakwood Lake is a privately controlled lake within a gated community. Lone Tree Creek and its drainage basin is a significant distance north of Manteca’s sphere of influence.
The only feasible waterway the consultants give as an example of a possible example of open space for the city to preserve and provide access is Walthall Slough that runs along the southern edge of the envisioned 1,450-home Trails of Manteca off the western end of Woodward Avenue.
This is not the first idea proposed in general plans about connecting Manteca with regional open space.
In the past an idea was floated and the council embraced to encourage development of an agricultural corridor of almond orchards along the west side of Highway 99 between Manteca and Ripon to avoid creating an impression down the road the two cities are one as the communities grow.
The general plans for the Austin Road Business Park the city approved did not call for such an open space corridor.
The developers, however, are making sure the separated bicycle path along Atherton Drive will continue south of Woodward Avenue toward Ripon as Atherton Drive is extended southward. The idea is to ultimately connect with street bike lanes in Ripon to reach the bicycle bridge across the Stanislaus River to provide access to Salida.
Much ado was made about working with the county in the 1990s to develop a bike path toward French Camp and ultimately Stockton which would involve crossing Little John Creek by following the right of way of the abandoned Tidewater Southern Railway. The 3.6 mile Tidewater Bikeway that runs from Union Ranch to Industrial Park Drive was built on land that contained the railroad’s track bed. Neither the city nor county has made any movements on taking the Tidewater Bike Path north.
And the proposed policies prepared for the workshop contains no specific mention of the city making it safe and feasible for bicycles and even walkers to access the planned 18-mile green belt River Islands at Lathrop is planning for public access along the San Joaquin River, Old River, and Paradise Cut; accessing the river at Mossdale Crossing, or being able to reach Tracy.
Caltrans when they built the 120 Bypass put in a bike path that starts at the end of Guthmiller Road off of West Yosemite Avenue that runs along the 120 Bypass, under Interstate 5 and connects with Mathney Road near the entrance to Mossdale County Park. By bicycling to the southern end of Mathney Road you an access another Caltrans bicycle path that takes you along the north side of Interstate 205 and connects with rural east Tracy allowing access to Grantline Road and backroads allowing access to employment centers such as Amazon.
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