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Just who will really benefit from south Manteca expressway?
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It is a line on the map to some.

It is a road to others.

But for hundreds of families in rural south Manteca it is their lives.

They are assured by those who see things in logical and linear fashion that the city is gathering comments on what they’d like to see happen to the future alignment of McKinley Avenue Expressway. It will arc across the southwest portion of Manteca one day to tie the 120 Bypass at a future interchange at McKinley with a new Austin Road interchange on Highway 99 somewhere south of where the current Austin connection now stands.

Nothing — to put it politely — is more pure bunk.

While it is true developers per se may not be driving the alignment it is certainly true that Manteca’s broad development policy reflected in the general plan is triggering the need to put a line on a map that will forever change the lives and dreams of people already here to accommodate people buying homes in the future who may not even have heard of Manteca yet.

You’d be hard pressed to find anyone living in rural south Manteca that embraces the road at all. So let’s get one thing straight. The city — when push comes to shove — doesn’t really want the input on the road but instead on where it goes. It is akin to telling someone we’re going to execute you but cheer up as you have the option of being either shot, hung or electrocuted.

In defense of the city-elected leaders and staff — they are simply slithering through the mulch of growth planning as required by state law. Cut off their head and the worm keeps slithering.

So why is Manteca even pursuing an expressway?

Simply put, it is because the general plan research has determined it is needed. The road wouldn’t be needed if the general plan policies adopted didn’t have fairly high level expectations of smooth traffic flow plus little bombshells such as striving to meet strict San Joaquin Valley air quality control standards.

Then there are those nagging “models” that planners and consultants rely on to crystal ball the future. If you build “x” amount of homes you will need certain levels of infrastructure.

General plans are self-fulfilling prophecies in the truest sense. Making it worse is the fact rarely do you know your ultimate boundaries. When growth starts to catch up with the general plan cities simply produce new ones. Not only does the state law make this a certainty due to the requirement that the general plan be updated every 10 years but they also allow amendments. The general plan is a living document.

This is why planners seem to talk in circles. Growth is indeed a moving target and as such it is hard to pin down.

What is the logical reason for the expressway? It is to make sure — in the world of planning models — that as orchards and farms fill in with homes there are adequate arterial streets.

If traffic models dictated public policy California One between San Simeon and Carmel-by-theSea as outlined by Caltrans engineers in the early 1960s would be a four-lane freeway with much of the nation’s most rugged coast destroyed and the San Francisco Bay would have been obscured by the Embarcadero freeway skirting the waterfront between the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Traffic “models” are best tempered by strong political decisions provided via elected leaders.

Roundabouts plopped in the middle of the proposed expressway won’t avoid it from becoming an alternative route for commute traffic when Highway 99 and the 120 Bypass become clogged with traffic. It also could easily be transformed into an illegal truck route thanks to future Austin Road Business Park distribution centers where truckers might be tempted to take a less hassle way to reach the Bay Area via the expressway instead of going to Highway 99 and doubling back.

Why not do something completely crazy such as not put an expressway through? The city’s model calls for six lanes then four lanes down to two coming from the Austin Road Business Park and going from four to two lanes from the 120 Bypass and McKinley interchange.

Why not just have dead-end arterials start within future planned residential and head toward and then designing neighborhood streets in such a manner that they would virtually make short cuts to connect the two impossible to take?

It would effectively create two large pocket areas for residential.

Is it sound planning? It mustn’t be because it doesn’t fit the mold.

But then again you won’t find too many people who will argue that it wasn’t sound planning to leave California One as a twisty two-lane highway through the rugged Big Sur coastline or keeping San Francisco’s view of the bay unobstructed by double-deck freeway structures.

Are there tradeoffs? Yes. In the case of California One it avoided creating artificial growth inducing pressures. And for San Francisco it made The City more livable.

Come to think of it aren’t those two reasonable objectives for Manteca?