I was heading south of town to the San Joaquin River Club on Saturday.
Instead of taking my usual circuitous route from my home near Manteca High I took a more direct route taking Industrial Park Drive to make a left turn on Main Street to head out of town to Trahern Road and then Airport Way.
The second I reached the left turn pocket for Main Street I realized I made a big mistake.
Southbound traffic on Main was backed up to Industrial Park Drive/Mission Ridge Drive.
It took two signals to clear the traffic lights at the northern ramps to the 120 Bypass because traffic was backed up solid at both the south ramp signals and the one at Atherton Drive. I ended up getting caught in four signal cycles before I could take my turn behind eight other vehicles to work my way through the stop sign at Main and Woodward.
It added 8 minutes to what is usually a 20-minute trip.
The way I usually go is use Van Ryn — a collector street with three stop signs to contend with and then to Woodward to Main.
Unlike the experts the city hires from Fehr & Peers to spin yarns about the traffic impact of various projects such as Chick-fil-A, Raising Cane’s and the distribution center project du jour, I knew better.
Having actually driven the traffic mess on a daily basis for the past 31 years that consultants have shamelessly helped create in Manteca while pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars I knew how atrocious both Main Street and Airport Way are on weekend mornings as well as during the morning and afternoon commutes.
It will please you to know that these are likely to be seen as the good old days when it took you only 20 minutes to drive only three miles in Manteca if you don’t cut through neighborhoods, drive during the off-peak hours that are apparently between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. and manage to clear any of the 16 at-grade railroad crossings that could be on your route.
That’s because it is going to get significantly worse until it gets better sometime in the year 2525 if Manteca can survive the A-bomb that traffic planning has become in this town.
Is that being a tad flippant?
You be the judge.
Manteca with 10,000 less residents than Tracy seems twice as congested.
It’s not an illusion. For whatever obvious reason Tracy opted to locate its major industrial areas away from commercial — except for what originally was built as a lame outlet mall — and virtually all residential. Both the International Commerce Park accessed directly via Interstate 580 and the east side industrial area accessed via McArthur Drive via I-205 were not shoehorned into existing commercial and residential areas as Manteca has done and is trying to do.
Granted when Manteca Industrial Park was developed it was on the edge of the city while Spreckels Park basically turned what would likely still be an abandoned sugar beet refinery advertising Manteca as the City of Blight at the high profile junction of the 120 Bypass and Highway 99 into distribution jobs.
But the city is doubling down in developing the Airport Way corridor with distribution that has only torturous routes to reach a freeway.
People should be willing to live with a little truck traffic that isn’t making local deliveries in the name of good paying jobs.
But as it stands now with various truck routes on the table every existing and envisioned arterial has the potential of its entire length or at least a segment as legal truck routes.
Just think what Tracy would be like if distribution centers were built in such locations that Eleventh Street, Grantline Road and Tracy Boulevard had to be pressed into service as truck routes. And to do what Manteca has done, you’d have to make sure a truck route goes down streets bordering the thriving commercial area by West Valley Mall.
Instead of cramming more distribution in future years along Airport you’d think the city would make it a priority to annex areas such as the southeast corner of French Camp Road and Highway 99 that has direct rail as well as freeway access with a newer interchange that would only need ramp upgrades to expedite distribution center development there.
The best solution for what the city has created is to send truck traffic north to French Camp Road and then Highway 99.
They don’t need to extend Roth Road and build yet another interchange the city won’t be able fund until the next glacial age occurs within the boundaries of Yosemite National Park.
That brings us back to Main Street and Airport Way where the auxiliary lane for the westbound Bypass traffic now often has cars sitting on it due to weekend backups at the Airport Way traffic signal.
It might surprise you to know there is a push to build two new interchanges on Highway 99 — Roth Road midway on the mile between interchanges at Lathrop and French Camp Road as well as the “Trojan Horse” interchange.
The “Trojan Horse” interchange is now being pushed as the Raymus Parkway interchange that won’t be an expressway but a two-lane parkway providing a convenient bypass for the 120 Bypass at McKinley to Highway 99. Oops, better not forget to mention that the right-of-way will be wide enough for a high-speed expressway if that is needed in the future but the city doesn’t plan on it being needed. That’s the city’s line in a nutshell. At least they could do everyone a favor and drop the doublespeak.
But what, you might ask, is the city doing when it comes to working toward upgrading what are clearly the two worst interchanges for congestion in Manteca that within 10 years will likely serve another 5,000 housing units south of the 120 Bypass that have the potential of generating 50,000 more daily trips on city streets? The answer is zilch.
This is what happens when consultants work with bureaucrats that try to direct Manteca from the proverbial basement of city hall.
This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at email@example.com