Atherton Drive — a four lane major arterial with minimal access points in terms of driveways and streets between major intersections that are almost all a mile apart — is designed to go from McKinley Avenue into the heart of the envisioned 1,049-acre Austin Road Business Park.
It is viewed by a number of critics of the City of Manteca’s drive to build the Raymus Expressway as the best answer to serve future development south of the 120 Bypass instead of the expressway.
Atherton Drive’s extension south of Woodward Avenue just west of Moffat is expected to start with a home developer putting in the first of two lanes sometime in the next year or so as approved subdivisions break ground
What isn’t certain is when the city will complete work on the Atherton Drive gap between Union Road and Airport Way that has been repeatedly postponed despite the design and funding being in place.
The gap project had the $2.6 million needed set aside from growth fees in the 2013-14 city budget cycle. There were also agreements with adjoining property owners to reimburse the city for part of the work when they develop their commercial and residential projects.
A desire to make significant improvements to Moffat Boulevard and Austin Road as well as upgrade ramps at the Austin Road and Highway 99 interchange to get the balling rolling on the employment center component of the Austin Road Business Park, prompted the city to shift the Atherton Drive gap funding to that endeavor.
When the employment center plan was put on hold indefinitely, the funds were re-earmarked for the Atherton Drive gap project.
No movement is expected on the gap work during the current budget year that ends June 30. At the same time, it may not move forward during the next fiscal year starting July 1 considering the city is juggling a major interchange upgrade and widening at Union Road and the 120 Bypass as well as the family entertainment zone infrastructure project and the creation of the McKinley Avenue and 120 Bypass interchange.
The City Council in April 2013 approved the negative environmental impact document for the extension of Atherton Drive covering 4,100 feet from Union Road to a point just east of Sparrowhawk Drive.
City staff at that time noted once the segment between Union Road and Airport Way was completed sometime in early 2014, pressure would be taken off Woodward Avenue when afternoon commute traffic comes to a standstill on the 120 Bypass. That’s because Atherton Drive will be completed from Airport Way to Woodward Avenue just east of Moffat Boulevard near the Austin Road ramps to Highway 99.
City changed adopted
traffic circulation plan
to scuttle Woodward
Avenue as a 4-lane road
Manteca’s main retail hub one day is expected to be created along a continuous 3.5-mile ribbon along Atherton Drive from the future McKinley Drive interchange to a point just west of Wellington Avenue.
The city changed its long-range traffic circulation plans south of the 120 Bypass in 2012 to avoid converting Woodward Avenue into a four-lane road. The city determined having two four-lane roads within a half mile of each other was overkill. Woodward was repurposed west of South Main Street as a wide two-lane street with a center median lined with trees.
Ironically, projects now being developed as part of Oleander Estates were conditioned with the requirement the developer bring Woodward Avenue up to a four-lane standard where their property fronted it.
The developer agreed to a city request to change the adopted traffic pattern for Woodward Avenue that was outlined in the city’s traffic circulation plan to accommodate the city’s change of heart.
Ironically, the city is now arguing Raymus Expressway can’t be changed or dropped as it is part of the conditions on several approved developments.