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Road work driving economy
Measure K projects generating 2,380 jobs in coming years
By this time next year Highway 99 through Manteca will be on its way to being six lanes wide. - photo by HIME ROMERO

No less than six major freeway and highway construction projects are about to get underway in San Joaquin County.

Along the Highway 99 corridor between Stockton and Manteca that means “road work ahead” signs will be part of the landscape for motorists until early 2016.

Whatever inconveniences the roadwork may cause the bottom line is that it will bring annual employment for 2,380 construction workers.

The University of the Pacific’s Business Forecasting Center studied the six projects and determined that 7,157 jobs would be created over the course of the work or 2,380 jobs per year.

The biggest source of employment will be along Highway 99 between the Cross-town Freeway (Highway 4) in Stockton and the 120 Bypass in Manteca.

The segment from Arch Road south to the 120 Bypass will generate 1,019 jobs. The stretch from Arch Road north to the Cross-town Freeway will create 1,887 jobs.

The breakdown also includes 1,223 jobs connected with the widening of Interstate 5 through Stockton, 1,822 jobs connected with Highway 4 construction, 150 jobs for Highway 12 work and 156 jobs for auxiliary lane work on Interstate 205.

None of the work would be possible without the half cent countywide Measure K transportation sales tax that generates critical local revenue to match federal money as well as state highway bond awards.

Work is starting this summer on the $496 million project to widen 13.1 miles of Highway 99 from the Cross-town to the Highway 120 Bypass and replace aging interchanges.

The initial phase will involve adding a lane in each direction in the median. Caltrans split the project into phases to take advantage of the fact the actual widening to six lanes did not require a time consuming right-of-way acquisition process.

The on and off ramps at Little John Creek near Stockton Metro Airport will be closed with the frontage roads converted into cul-de-sacs.

The French Camp Road replacement interchange construction will get underway in March of 2013. The third phase involved replacing the Lathrop Road and Main Street interchanges with one full standard interchange at Lathrop Road. The design work is targeted for completion in July 2012. Construction is targeted for January of 2012.

The fourth and final stage involves replacement and mitigation planting. That stage is targeted to start in December of 2015.

The phase with the biggest impact on private property is the new Lathrop Road interchange.

It would wipe out at least five businesses including an appliance firm’s warehouse, a gas station, a trailer sales, a multi-tenant business building backing up against the existing overpass and a modular home sales lot. Altogether, 24 properties will be impacted.

Most of the impacted property is on the western side of the freeway. It is the result of the need to extend Main Street north to tie into the south on and off ramps at the proposed interchange.

As proposed, the interchange would:

• realign the West Frontage Road through Delta College’s property in the northwest corner of the interchange and align it with Crestwood Avenue. Delta College is proposing developing 350,000 square feet of retail on the land.

• extend North Main as four lanes from Northgate Drive to tie into an intersection with the southbound on and off ramps at Lathrop Road. The road, designed to allow traffic to travel at 35 mph, would wipe out several older homes used for commercials purposes, the warehouse portion of Center Appliance and the small business complex built a few years ago between the existing curve and the overpass.

• provide a direct route for trucks accessing business and industrial parks that exist and are proposed between Lathrop and Manteca along the Airport Way corridor. It would also provide a direct truck route between Interstate 5 and Highway 99 in addition to the Highway 120 Bypass and French Camp Road.

• eliminate the modular home and trailer sales businesses on the southeast corner to accommodate northbound off and on ramps.

• relocate the East Frontage Road further east and extend it south of Lathrop Road behind developed parcels before curving back to the existing Frontage Road to provide access to Southland Road.

The state is picking up $282.4 million of the tab from Proposition 1B bond proceeds while the Measure K – the countywide half cent sales tax – is covering the rest of the cost. If it weren’t for the Measure K sales tax San Joaquin County in all likelihood would not have secured the state bond money.