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Wider days ahead for Highway 99
Project helps Manteca score transit trifecta
Trucks account for 14 percent of the traffic on the Highway 99 corridor. - photo by HIME ROMERO
It’s called California’s Main Street for a good reason.

Fourteen percent of the traffic on Highway 99 consists of trucks with most picking up agricultural products and manufactured goods from up and down the San Joaquin Valley and transporting them to markets throughout the nation and the world.
The $252 million widening and modernization of the Arch Road to Highway 120 Bypass segment expected to start the spring of 2012 gives Manteca a transportation trifecta when it comes to the ability to move goods.

Between an expansion project moving forward at the Union Pacific intermodal complex that marries freight trailers with trains next door in Lathrop to recent investments at Stockton Airport 10 miles north of Manteca and the Santa Fe intermodal facility some 12 miles to the northeast, Manteca is not only at the hub of the three most critical forms of cargo transport but they will be up-to-date as well.

It will also give Manteca a new modern interchange at Lathrop Road that is expected to trigger significant retail development in the immediate vicinity. Some of the major retailers reportedly looking at land near the new interchange which is essentially will be the only undeveloped urban interchange on the Highway 99 corridor through San Joaquin County of major consequence is Wal-Mart for a super-sized version of the chain store.

“It (the widening) is a big deal considering Highway 99 really moves all of the goods,” said Manteca Mayor Willie Weatherford.

An upgraded Highway 99 enhances the appeal of a number of projects along the corridor from Stockton Airport’s Business Park to the Austin Road Business Park in Manteca.

Much of the freeway corridor from Arch Road to Manteca reflects 1955-era freeway design. That will all be gone when work is completed in the summer of 2014.

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 interchange will be replaced due to issues with the vertical rise of the existing bridges.

The Yosemite Avenue and Highway 99 interchange was modernized in a $17 million undertaking two years ago. Several years prior to that, the Arch Road urban interchange went in by the airport. The design allows the maximum movement of cars with minimal traffic signals. It was built as the first stage of a plan to encourage business park development around the airport.

The additional two lanes will be added in the center divider where much of the segment currently is planted with oleanders.

The Arch Road to Highway 120 Bypass widening is the southern part for the $496 million widening of Highway 99 from four lanes to six lanes plus replacement of interchanges over 13.5 miles to the Cross-town Freeway to the north.

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.

“We (Manteca) have our ducks in the water,” Weatherford noted several  years ago at ceremonies announcing the Highway 99 widening project that took place on the grass in front of Perko’s at Yosemite Avenue and the Highway 99 interchange. “We’re not looking for ducks. We’re about five to 10 years ahead of other cities in the area in (setting the stage) to secure jobs.”