Up on Airport Way where it meets Roth Road there once stood a small dairy.
In 1992 during a particular wet winter stretch, a newcomer to Manteca sounded the alarm: The cows were standing in the rain and were on mud.
The woman had moved here recently from San Jose. She said she was shocked to drive by the dairy to see the farm animals treated so inhumanely given they were out in the elements.
She had called the Bulletin demanding something be done. When I told her that wasn’t exactly animal cruelty she accused me of being inhumane. She said she the farmer should be put out of businesses and that she was going to call the authorities.
I have no idea if she followed through on her threat to lodge an animal cruelty complaint. That small dairy stayed there for a few more years before it succumbed to the realities of modern agriculture: The only way a farmer can survive is to find ways to produce more while getting less per gallon of milk, bushel of corn or crate of tomatoes.
She wanted — and needed — all the things farms made possible such as milk, meat, eggs, vegetables, and even wine, beer, and alcohol — but had no clue of how agriculture worked. The odds are she would have advocated for a law requiring dairies to make sure a drop of rain never touched a cow’s hide.
Where that dairy once stood is where CenterPoint plans to build a 1.1 million square-foot distribution center for a client that hasn’t been disclosed. It is the same size of the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Tracy. At complete build out it will be twice the size of the biggest existing building in Manteca — the 550,000-square-foot Ford Small Parts Distribution Center on Spreckels Avenue.
Just like everyone wants to eat, everyone wants jobs.
The reality is simple. And the beef is predictable. Just like cows get wet in the rain, places of employment of any magnitude require trucks — lots of trucks.
There are going to be a lot more trucks fairly soon on Airport Way, Roth Road and Lathrop Road. Not knowing who the tenant for the mega-distribution center is, it is a safe bet it will have something to do with consumer goods.
And lord knows everyone consumes goods.
As of late, though, more and more people want instant gratification. They see something online and they want it the next day. This requires more and more frequent truck trips whether it is to and from a fulfillment center or to and from a distribution center for firms like Home Depot, JC Penney, Safeway, Restoration Hardware, and Staples.
This will not make some people happy. Instead of looking at the corner of Roth Road and Airport Way seeing wet cows they will see trucks and more trucks.
Of course they can’t consume goods unless a truck moves them.
The reality won’t matter. They don’t want more trucks on their roads.
Pointing out the obvious won’t help. They believe substantial jobs can come to the Northern San Joaquin Valley — the polar opposite to the jobs that power the virtual economies created by Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and et al in the Silicon Valley — without more truck traffic.
And judging by past history, they will claim they never saw it — with “it” being more truck traffic — coming.
It is no state secret that Lathrop Road or the Airport Way corridors have been planned for years to accommodate the type of significant private sector job growth that is most likely to land here. Even if you missed the public hearings and didn’t fall asleep reading traffic projection reports by a legion of consultants, you had to notice the four-lane bridges put in place across railroad tracks and the design of the new Lathrop Road/Highway 99 interchange that clearly was done with truck movements in mind.
All of this could have been avoided had the public demanded elected Manteca leaders not pursue the creation of significant opportunities for private sector jobs such is afforded by the CenterPoint project. Issues some people have with farming and distribution centers would go away had Manteca voters demanded only houses and whatever retail pops up to support it be allowed in the city limits. That way wet cows and significantly increased truck traffic wouldn’t be an issue.
The cows, as they say, are coming home.
But before you pack up your bags and move further away from urban centers where you can complain about wet cows and exacerbate trucking movements and highway congestion, give the devil his due.
Whatever goes in the 1.1 million square-foot distribution center with enough loading docks to accommodate dozens upon dozens of trucks at one time, the impacts on Manteca will be minimumal.
That’s because CenterPoint is fairly well-planned from the perspective of truck movements. It is adjacent to — and will have private road access to — the Union Pacific Railroad intermodal facility. Truck trailers placed on rail flat cars are the preferred movement for the bulk of goods moving cross country. Unless they are doing a milk run down the Central Valley which means using Highway 99, the bulk of truck traffic will take Roth Road to reach Interstate 5. And if the firm has air cargo movements, Airport Way from Roth Road to Stockton Airport is an overwhelming obvious route.
That doesn’t mean some people won’t have a cow over the project given what they really prefer is selective job growth that mirrors the Silicon Valley’s major employers. That type of growth, though, isn’t in the cards for Manteca.