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The road to Mantecas future
Atherton Drive destiny is main drag south of Bypass
Atherton Drive will be extended this summer from South Main Street to where it now ends near Paseo Apartments. - photo by HIME ROMERO

You can’t get much of anywhere on Atherton Drive today.

It exists as three separate segments with the heaviest used section connecting Union Road and Main Street as access to The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley.

Another segment dead-ends on both sides of Airport Way to provide access to nearby neighborhoods.

The third section dead-ends west of Wellington Avenue by the Paseo Apartments and then curves to the south to T-intersect for the time being with Woodward Avenue.

This summer the city is spending $2.9 million - all of it from restricted funds such as federal stimulus money that has been wedded with money collected on new growth - to connect Main Street with the segment that ends near Paseo Apartments.

It will provide another way for traffic to move between two of Manteca’s main retail clusters - Orchard Valley and Spreckels Park.

But its real advantage for the city is opening more freeway frontage for commercial and office development. Commercial real estate experts before the recession hit believed that the 120 Bypass corridor will eventually become one of the hottest locations in the Northern San Joaquin Valley given its traffic movement of commuters from both Modesto, Stockton and the foothills to Bay Area employment centers plus the heavy weekend traffic from the Bay Area to the Sierra.

Atherton Drive’s long-range destiny is to not only serve as access to what is envisioned as teeming retail and office along the 120 Bypass put also to provide the major surface street connection to southeast Manteca where the 1,049-acre Austin Road Business Park is being pursued. Atherton Drive will eventually head south of Woodward Avenue toward rural Ripon to serve as the development’s major north-south street.

Austin Road Business Park is envisioned for 3.5 million square feet of general commercial or five times the size of Orchard Valley when it is finished. The plan also calls for 2,358 traditional single-family homes, 1,840 multiple family units, plus 8 million square feet of industrial and business park projects. The employment centers would be the equivalent of 15 buildings the size of the Ford Motor Co. distribution center in Spreckels Park.

Austin Road Business Park could add 10,200 residents to Manteca and has the potential of creating up to 13,000 jobs.

Atherton Drive is being developed as growth occurs so that the taxpayers aren’t saddled with the cost or the financing.