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On-ramp demolished for 99 widening
A Caltrans flagman directs northbound traffic on Main Street toward a surface street taking motorists to Lathrop Road with the discontinued use of the bridged on-ramp to northbound Highway 99. - photo by GLENN KAHL

The longtime arterial connection to northbound Highway 99 from Manteca’s North Main Street was eliminated at 7 a.m. Monday morning to make way for the widening of the freeway to three lanes in each direction.

Orange traffic cones and a Caltrans flagman detoured traffic onto the extension of North Main Street to Lathrop Road.  At Lathrop Road, those wanting to get onto Highway 99 were directed to cross over the freeway bridge and immediately turn left onto the Frontage Road, accessing the northbound lanes within 100 yards at the Lathrop Road on ramp.

A new interchange is part of the $250 million project that extends to the north of Arch Road just beyond the Stockton Metropolitan Airport.  With the completion of the project,  the existing on ramp at Lathrop Road is planned to be closed as well.

Ground was broken for the massive highway construction project last June – a project that will include: the reconstruction of the Lathrop Road and the Main Street interchanges into one; building a new interchange at French Camp Road, while installing a concrete safety barrier and erect new sound walls and landscaping.

The completion date is set for 2015.

The Lathrop Road interchange is being transformed from a 1950s-era two-lane bridge structure to a more modern overcrossing with Tidewater-styled light standards.

A “seamless acquisition” of land on the extension of North Main Street and on Lathrop Road with the state ensuring that each of the displaced businesses had new locations in the community.

The project has an estimated timeline of three years for the total set of plans to be completed.  Manteca will have a landscaped interchange similar to the one Ripon built when they reworked the Jack Tone configuration over the freeway some 10 to 12 years ago.

San Joaquin County’s half cent transportation sales tax Measure K and Proposition 1B with $133 million from the transportation bond measure approved by voters seven years ago, are the source of funding for the $250 million project.

At last year’s groundbreaking ceremony, Manteca City Manager Karen McLaughlin provided her insight into the value of the Highway 99 enhancement project through the city from north to south.

“It’s really going to improve access to Manteca and provide a visual sense of ‘place,’ which is something that we don’t have right now.  When you drive down Highway 99 you see it in some communities but not in others.  It’s something we are looking forward to having,” she said.