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Manteca must kill Raymus expressway
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It’s time to do the honorable thing. It’s time to do the right thing. It’s time to do the fiscally wise thing. And it’s time to make planning decisions that reflect 21st century realities instead of 20th century textbook planning.
It’s time that the Manteca City Council killed the Raymus Expressway for good.
They tried to kill it a few months back but city staff talked them out of it. So instead, the council simply took the route planning off the table for now.
With all due respect to staff, they are wrong on Raymus Expressway on multiple levels. Just like staff was wrong 25 years ago when they argued that it was pointless to talk about developing south of the 120 Bypass because it wasn’t going to happen.
A previous council had the moxie to call the shots. That’s why today there is the 52-acre Woodward Community Park, The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley with the likes of Bass Pro and a 16-screen theater, and teeming neighborhoods.
Raymus Expressway may have made sense 15 years ago before Oleander Estates was approved and homes were built. Developers had approached the city on various occasions to get them to come up with an alignment so they could incorporate it in the design of subdivisions they controlled. From the bowels of the Community Development Department and Public Works Department came the same response — it was way too early to get into exact alignments.
Since then the state mandate for 200-year flood protection came into being with the stipulation placement of needed levees can’t induce additional growth beyond what was already envisioned in adopted long-range general plans.
That put a big target on the back of dozens upon dozens of longtime rural homeowners given the fact the city allowed home building to effectively take out a more northern alignment for the proposed expressway despite the efforts of developers.
At the same time the city has repeatedly failed to adjust fees to account for all of the major street work the general plan called for south of the 120 Bypass. In the past 15 years nearly 3,000 homes have been built south of the 120 Bypass with not a single dime collected toward paying for additional roads such as the proposed Raymus Expressway.
And let’s not forget the city is struggling to maintain older streets and newer streets as well just like other California cities.
Then there is the 900-pound gorilla no one wants to talk about: Who effectively derailed plans for what would have been Spreckels Park II on steroids when it came to job generation for Manteca — the 1,050-acre Austin Road Business Park? Someone dropped the ball for almost a year on doing work on a development agreement needed to make the project work. Here’s a hint: It wasn’t the folks that wrote the big fat check to cover the cost. Even though the land is now annexed to the city, it isn’t going to happen as it was proposed for a long, long time if that.
Raymus Expressway was deemed necessary to accommodate truck traffic headed to and from the Bay Area by consultants who used models to plug in traffic numbers. So you  understand what this meant was truck traffic would travel almost 3.5 miles on a surface street with occasional traffic signals and roundabouts at a speed supposedly 45 mph or lower instead of going a mile maximum to either a new interchange on Highway 99 or Austin Road. The reason this was assumed was due to commute traffic. Funny how none of the consultants bothered to note that most carriers going between the Bay Area and the Northern San Joaquin Valley time their truck movements to not coincide with peak traffic. Doing so saves time and money in terms of fuel, driver salaries, and lost time.
As for passenger vehicles, Raymus Expressway with no measureable development to the south of it due to the 200-year floodplain and the proposed levee extension is now massive overkill.
Assuming development goes all the way to West Ripon Road — the ultimate southern point for potential Manteca urbanization — the farthest home from what will be four interchanges placed a mile apart on the 120 Bypass is 2.5 miles.  Homes to the north along Lathrop Road are 2.5 miles from the 120 Bypass. The three existing corridors — Airport Way, Union Road and Main Street — can handle the traffic volume with ease especially since Airport Way is also widened to four lanes.
Building Raymus Expressway makes as much sense as converting Northgate Drive to expressway status and then extending it east to add another interchange on Highway 99.
Then there is the issue of eminent domain. It took this city seven years to deliver the extension of Industrial Park Drive to Spreckels Avenue once funding was in place. The reason was the city council treated eminent domain like the plague. It’s the same attitude today. The expressway, though, involves dozens upon dozens of people that say they won’t sell come hell or high water.
Let’s recap:
uThe only options for alignments that are left are extremely limited and extremely problematic.
uThe city has failed significantly in being financially responsible in terms of collecting needed fees.
uThe road — while it made sense in the 1990s — is over-kill by today’s realties.
uThe city lacks the stomach to destroy the lives of long-time residents and would likely simply try to wait them out.
The ace that staff played is the city will be sued if they don’t follow the adopted general plan that says the Raymus Expressway must be built. The answer is simple: Change the general plan.