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No truck route for McKinley is sound planning
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McKinley Avenue should not under any circumstances be designated as a truck route.

South Manteca - save most of the Atherton Drive corridor paralleling the 120 Bypass, Tara Business Park, and Austin Road Business Park - has long been envisioned as the future domain of homes and the accompanying lifestyle of traditional neighborhoods.

Manteca’s layered approach of commercial and high density along the 120 Bypass to serve as a buffer to traditional single family neighborhoods is sound planning. So was a decision spurred by staff and adopted by the City Council to retreat from making Woodward Avenue a four-lane road as it is within a quarter of a mile south of Atherton Drive.

The canvas in South Manteca is still clean enough to put in place an effective circulation system that doesn’t subordinate everything to the almighty vehicle.

Development patterns also need to be such that the ultimate southern boundaries of the city transitions as seamlessly as possible into the countryside of dairy farms and almond orchards. That would not happen if the McKinley Avenue extension that ultimately will swing to the east and connect with a new interchange on Highway 99 is designated as a truck route.

Planners at City Hall are on the right track with making the extension an expressway with limited access, no commercial, and even employing roundabouts when the future McKinley alignment crosses feeder streets.

There is also another big reason why McKinley should not become a truck route - the Union Pacific truck intermodal facility northwest of Manteca that is being more than tripled in size.

Airport Way is just a quarter of a mile from the intermodal facility. It is already a designated truck route.

If the city made McKinley a truck route, there is little doubt that future distribution centers in Austin Road Business Park would run truck traffic from their location to McKinley and then Airport Way to the intermodal facility.

As for the proposed alignment of McKinley, it will induce growth in such a manner that South Manteca doesn’t turn into East Modesto in terms of travel distance to reach the freeway.

It also opens the door for a political decision to draw Manteca’s growth line at the actual alignment of the McKinley Avenue extension at least west of the 1,037-acre Austin Road Business park project.

There needs to be an honest-to-goodness conversation among Manteca leaders and the community away from the clinical world of planners to determine just how far Manteca should grow to the south, east, and north. The problem with not having that conversation sooner instead than later is that fees and such will soon be locked into place to pay for infrastructure such as major roads needed to accommodate  growth. Once that occurs, there is no turning back.

McKinley Avenue could in one scenario serve as the development limits or the DMZ separating rural and urban Manteca.

Growth may be inevitable but where it goes and how it occurs should be open for debate. That is what the planning process is designed to accommodate. Unfortunately, the fixation for all of the right reasons with general plans to serve as the blueprint for growth in California almost makes whatever is adopted as the Holy Grail of a city’s development. As such, it undermines any serious discussions on ultimate development boundaries that can have an effective impact once the earth moving horsepower is out of the barn.

It is important that everyone is plugged into the process citywide as the alignments being adopted such as extending Roth Road in the north and McKinley in the south will spur development patterns that will stretch to fit across the major road skeleton.