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$7.3M project at Moffat Blvd & South Main
Mantecas city officials throw the first shovels of dirt at the desolate project site. Pictured, from left, are council members John Harris, City Manager Karen McLaughlin, Vince Hernandez, Mayor Willie Weatherford, Steve DeBrum, Debby Moorhead and Diede Construction owner Mike Diede. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

If you build it they will come.

At least that’s what Manteca city officials are hoping for when it comes to the $7.3 million transit station that broke ground Monday morning on Moffat Boulevard. at South Main Street.

The project is being funded by a combination of funds from the Federal Department of Transportation, Caltrans and the San Joaquin Council of Governments.

And while the transportation options will be limited at first – serving as a connection point for bus lines throughout the community – it will provide for future rail opportunities and a chance to possibly attract an Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) stop that ultimately could be converted into high speed rail.

Its proximity to the downtown shopping district with a design that includes a room that can be reserved for public events also makes it attractive.

City Manager Karen McLaughlin believes that the meeting space gives the complex somewhat of a community center feel and helps draw people close to downtown where she hopes they’ll stop and spend money at eateries and businesses.

The other major component, she says, is adding something else to Moffat Boulevard that may spur further development on the desolate thruway that once served as the main access point to town.

“The other big part of this is the redevelopment – not in the agency way – of Moffat Boulevard,” she said. “It was really rundown looking, but with the BMX park on one end and some landscaping along the Tidewater and this on the other end it changes things.

“Now we can look for somebody else to start the rehabilitation of the area. The question is who is going to invest in it?”

Diede Construction – who contracted with the city to construct the new animal shelter on the corner of Wetmore and Main streets – was once again tapped to handle the workload. The building itself, which was preliminarily designed by RRM Design Group and crafted by architectural firm LDA Partners, is expected to be completed next April.

It’ll include 8,367 square feet of floor space and 108 parking stalls.

Mayor Willie Weatherford called the site the “ugliest” piece of property in town and noted that with all of the development in the community, Moffat Boulevard always got overlooked.

But in the eyes of Councilman Steve DeBrum, the project itself is more of a forward-thinking move to bring transit to and through Manteca.

“I think that long-term this is a cohesive plan for the future – it’s a chance to make this the hub of our community,” DeBrum said. “I think that if we look down the road we can hopefully see the ACE Train stopping here and numerous other projects on the rail system in the Central Valley.

“All of these projects – the new animal shelter and corporation yard and this transit center – are a chance to build this area up. And they bring jobs to our community, which is an added benefit. It’s a good plan for our future.”