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Missing link from Union to Airport on Atherton Drive may be built in 2013
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Atherton Drive – if everything goes according to plan – will one day serve as Manteca’s premiere retail boulevard.

The four-lane road that didn’t exist a decade ago ultimately will have just over four miles of high-profile freeway exposure land zoned commercial along the 120 Bypass. And with 70,000 vehicles now passing each day with more expected as the Northern San Joaquin Valley grows, it should continue to grow as a regional retail magnet.

Two critical pieces of the puzzle needed to set the stage should be in place by the end of 2014.

The first is the missing segment from Wellington Avenue to South Main Street that is now under construction at a cost of $3.5 million. That project also includes traffic signals at South Main and Atherton.

The second is the missing link between Union Road and Airport Way. The Manteca City Council is making constructing the second link a priority. Public Works Director Mark Houghton said he expected the project to start moving forward in earnest sometime in early 2013.

“It’s an investment in Manteca’s future,” Houghton said.

Not only does it open highly desirable retail freeway frontage for development but it also:

• enhances traffic circulation south of the 120 Bypass.

• takes pressure off Woodward Avenue that is being developed into a wide two-lane residential street with a tree-lined canopy down the center once the pipeline work is finished in 2013.

• provides access to the 1,050-acre Austin Road Business Park.

Funds for the $2.4 million project to connect Atherton Drive from Airport Way to Union Road by constructing a three-quarter of a mile missing segment have already been collected when permits were issued for housing south of the 120 Bypass.

As development occurs missing segments of the separated bike path will be put in place by the private sector. Segments are already in place on both sides of Airport Way, in front of the Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley and from the Paseo Apartments to Woodward Avenue near Moffat Boulevard.

Houghton noted by being able to move forward with the Atherton Drive missing links when the economy is down, Manteca will be able to position itself as growth starts picking up.

Atherton Drive ultimately will be extended south of Woodward Avenue and will reach all the way to McKinley Avenue in the west.

It is also Manteca’s first four-lane arterial that doesn’t follow the  north-south and east-west grid pattern of straight streets a mile apart as it curves plus will ultimately start in the west and end in the south.