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McKinley: Road to the future
Big plans include 2 interchanges, expressway
The City of Manteca wants to make McKinley Avenue where it crosses under the Highway 120 Bypass a full interchange. - photo by HIME ROMERO

McKinley Avenue - the namesake of a narrow road that has seen its better days - is the boulevard to Manteca’s future.

Today it has no freeway interchanges, passes through no development of consequence, and dead ends on the south at Woodward Avenue.

At some point in the future it could have two interchanges - one on the Highway 120 Bypass and the other that promises to be among the busiest on the Highway 99 corridor in San Joaquin County - pass through the 1,037-acre Austin Road Business Park plus Tara Business Park, and could reach Jack Tone Road and beyond.

Its exact route curving to the southeast from the first leg of the “new” McKinley Avenue now in place adjacent to Florsheim Homes’ Deer Park and a quarter mile due east of where the existing alignment T-intersects with Woodward Avenue is an unknown. Only stretches through the two proposed business parks have been identified. The connecting segment between the two may not be built for 10 to 30 years although residents in the impacted area are acutely aware of several possible routes thanks to workshops conducted by the city.

Regardless of the route, it is expected to be the southernmost major thoroughfare in Manteca thanks to the reality of an area to the south of its general alignment that’s rated as likely to flood - there’s been seven such events since 1929 - therefore making it prohibitive to urbanize without extremely costly levee improvements.

It will be designed as the city’s first expressway. That means few intersections, no driveways, no gas stations, and no commercial whatsoever.

A number of those intersections - in a bid to discourage it from being used as a high-speed shortcut when commute traffic is heavy on the Highway 120 Bypass - could have traffic circles. Initial construction west of the future southern alignment of Atherton Drive when it is extended south of Woodard Avenue will have a slightly depressed drainage swell down the middle with one lane running in each direction.

McKinley ultimately will be six lanes between the Highway 99 interchange that will also cross the Union Pacific Railroad tracks proposed to the south of the existing Austin Road interchange. From Austin Road to Main Street - now South Manteca Road - will more than likely be four lanes.

The remaining segment to Woodward Avenue is expected to be two lanes.

Construction of the entire length of McKinley Avenue doesn’t have a timetable. It will be driven by development as the market demands.

The overall road could cost as much of $190 million. One consultant pegged the cost of the new interchange on Highway 99 because it has to cross the railroad tracks which would require a realignment of the freeway at $150 million. A full interchange at McKinley Avenue has a price tag of $30 million in 2010 dollars.

The City Council on Tuesday will consider going ahead with environmental document preparation and design interchange for the McKinley interchange. Caltrans gave its blessing to such a move in August.

A positive vote by the council Tuesday would allow the city to secure $2.8 million in federal transportation demonstration funds approved by Congress in 2005 for the project.

The federal funds are to reimburse the city for up to 80 percent of the design costs. The balance will be covered by regional transportation improvement plan fees imposed on growth.

The council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.