Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
This is in response to Benjamin Cantu’s letter “Manteca shouldn’t drop expressway” in the Manteca Bulletin dated June 4.
I don’t know if Mr. Cantu lives within Manteca proper or in rural Manteca. I do know he is not one of my many neighbors that will be negatively impacted should an expressway be allowed to be built in Manteca’s rural area. It probably doesn’t matter much, other than the fact he is not aware of the full impact of the McKinley Expressway (now called the Raymus Expressway, which is another story) will have on the people whose homes and properties will be affected. The only reason a bypass is being pushed by the city planners is because they want more housing projects, tracts, businesses etc. to be built south the bypass – in other words urban sprawl. Before we get to that stage, I think we need to seriously consider rolling back the city’s sphere of influence. Unfortunately, if building a bypass were to come to fruition, then, of course gas stations would follow along with Quik Stops, markets, roadway sounds and smells, emergency vehicle sirens and so on. Our leaders are looking for Manteca to have a population of 100,000 to 150,000 within a few years. So yes, build it and they will come, be it expressways, houses, stores – yes they will come. And the city coffers will grow right along with the city limits. What I don’t think our leaders take seriously enough is that with growth comes the unwanted element of crime, drugs and a larger homeless population. Do we not have enough of that now?
Sadly, there is a very high price to pay for those few minutes saved getting from one end of town to the other. The price that we (the people living in rural Manteca) will pay is in the form of the things that will be taken from us, such as the serenity of the country life we enjoy so much, including the almond trees blooming in the spring, the beautiful wheat and corn fields blowing in the wind, the longhorn steer in pastures, the grape harvesting in the fall and grandchildren wanting to visit grandma and grandpa on the farm. I view all of this development build out as the lure of big money – build, build, built it and they will come – and bring with them big bucks to fill the city coffers. But they will take from us. I truly believe our city leaders see these things as frivolous relative to their goals for the future of Manteca, a more sprawling Manteca.
One important fact about the expressway for those of you who are not aware, wherever the city planners decide to build an expressway, they are also planning to build a levee just south of the expressway, thus protecting it from floodwaters. As important fact regarding the levee – on July 1, 2016, which is just over three weeks from now, the deadline for Manteca to either forge ahead with the levee as outlined in SB5 or stop all further development in the 200-year flood plain including building new homes and adding on to existing homes will be here.
That levee, ironic as it may sound (the exact alignment is not yet defined) will not protect the people that have been here for years and years and who have been flooded out before. No, that levee is not intended to protect them. It is intended to protect new development and to ensure further development into rural areas. The levee and the expressway will be an eyesore in the middle of beauty, taking away prime agricultural land – some of the most fertile land in the country.
Our city planners, staff, and council should work with the revenue they have coming in now; make wise decisions so we don’t end up spending foolishly, promote and enhance the things we have and listen to what the people want. The levee and the expressway together will be very costly – a conservative estimate of $150 million, give or take a few.
This money would go a long way towards “enhancing” our downtown, filling in the empty stores in the Bass Pro Shops complex, fixing our streets, eliminating crime, and finding a solution to homelessness in our city. So, as it has been voiced before by me, kill these two projects while they are just a line on a map and before they have a chance to begin a downward spiral to Manteca’s beautiful countryside.