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Measure K made 99 widening possible

The power of a penny isn’t lost on Andrew Chesley.

It’s the penny that is collected on the purchase of every $2 worth of consumer goods in San Joaquin County that made it possible for the 10-mile widening of Highway 99 and replacement of two interchanges between Yosemite Avenue in Manteca and Arch Road in Stockton.

“If it wasn’t for Measure K we wouldn’t have been able to leverage state money to do the widening project,” the San Joaquin Council of Governments executive director told Manteca Rotarians on Thursday. “Caltrans actually didn’t even have widening that segment on their radar.”

When SJCOG approached Caltrans and offered to match Proposition 1B bond money for the freeway projects, the state reconsidered its stance. The end result was the decision to go forward with the $250 million project arguably years— if not decades — ahead of when it would have occurred if it had simply been programmed for improvements using state funds.

Not only did having the money in hand thanks to the renewal of the Measure K half cent transportation tax in 2006 by 78 percent of the county’s voters make the project possible, but by moving forward when it did during an economic the $250 million cost of going from four to six lanes was whittled down to $145 million.

That cut SJCOG’s 35 percent share of the tab down to $50.75 million to effectively free up local funds to go toward other road improvements.

When all was said and done, San Joaquin County claimed the fifth highest amount of the state’s $19.25 billion transportation bond securing $560 million for local projects leveraged with Measure K matching funds. The only counties securing more were Los Angeles ($.1 billion), Alameda ($889 million), San Diego ($832 million), and Orange $589 million).

Chesley said it is because of the Proposition 1B funds that Measure K matches that so many major road projects are underway at the same time especially on Interstate 5 and Highway 99.

“They had to be projects ready to go to get the bond money,” Chesley said.

The four miles of widening with new interchanges  between Arch Road and the Cross-town Freeway in Stockton will be completed in early 2017. The Interstate 5 widening project north of Highway 4 to go from six to eight lane complete with the county’s first high occupancy vehicle lane that will have restricted use to those with two or more in the vehicle during commute hours is targeted for completion in 2016.

Thirty percent of Measure K funds go to transit projects, 32.5 percent to congestion relief endeavors such as the freeway widening, 35 percent to local agencies for road projects and street maintenance, and 2.5 percent for railroad crossings safety projects.

Among South County projects Measure K funds have made possible are the widening of the 120 Bypass to four lanes, widening Interstate 205 to six lanes the Manteca transit station, the Altamont Corridor Express commute passenger service, widening Highway 99 from Manteca to the Stanislaus County line, the Jack Tone Road/Highway 99 interchange, the Lathrop Road railroad crossing, and the Tidewater Bikeway plus other endeavors.

Chesley said SJCOG is working on a project that would widen Highway 99 from just south of Lodi to the Mokelumne River bridge. He noted plans to go farther north to the Sacramento County line are contingent on Sacramento County. Currently Sacramento County doesn’t want to widen Highway 99 south of Elk Grove to Galt fearing it would induce growth along the corridor.