Weeds won’t be an issue at the Highway 99 and Lathrop Road interchange when spring 2019 rolls around.
Caltrans this week will be awarding a contract to install landscaping at the interchange that replaced a narrow 1955-era two-lane bridge more than two years ago. Work is expected to begin before the end of spring.
The interchange has never been landscaped in the past 63 years. Since the first version was built it has always been left in weeds. It will go from ugly duckling status to setting the stage for southbound Highway 99 motorists passing through Manteca.
A decision by the City of Manteca and Caltrans to pursue a design that would require minimal maintenance and emphasize water conservation has substantial lowered anticipated ongoing maintenance costs. The original plans proposed in May 2012 had a lot of high maintenance plantings such as roses that required more water. The Manteca City Council rejected that landscaping schematic seeking to reduce future annual costs to the city after being told the cost of maintaining that particular planting plan could run as high as $120,000 a year.
The new design that sustainably cuts maintenance costs and water use, calls for the interchange to be one of the first in the Northern San Joaquin Valley to extensively employ hardscape to create a pleasing and colorful landscape accented with trees and possibly some shrubs.
The initial rollout of the replacement plan called for more than 150 trees accented with shrubs and groundcover. Large areas would have bark mulch, river cobble areas, colored/stamped paving, decomposed granite, and colored gravel mulch to create a visually pleasing mix of non-irrigated area covering much of the interchange. There would be non-irrigated planting areas in basins designed to collected storm run-off.
The state will be responsible for the upkeep of all landscaping within the interchange that is essentially everything on the freeway side of fencing and in the quadrants. Manteca will be responsible for the maintenance of what is outside those areas — including a median on North Main Street that was installed as part of the project.
The city also will be responsible for the upkeep of the monument sign that will be placed in the northwest quadrant facing southbound traffic that will have the city’s name on it as well as lighting and a sound wall on the east side.
The reason landscaping work has taken so long to get underway after the interchange was finished is simple. The widening between Yosemite Avenue and Arch Road was complete but the road work between Arch Road and the Crosstown Freeway in Stockton wasn’t.
In 2017, the punch list for the Highway 99 corridor work within Stockton was completed. That allowed Caltrans to determine what funds they had left to address landscaping on the joint San Joaquin Council of Governments/Caltrans project.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com