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Two roads better than one for Raymus Parkway
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It started out more than a decade ago as a four-lane expressway designed to move a high volume of cars around the ultimate southern edge of Manteca’s city limits connecting future southeast Manteca development with the  future interchange at the 120 Bypass and McKinley Avenue.
That was the McKinley Expressway.
Then plans were approved for the envisioned 1,050-acre Austin Road Business Park that will accommodate 3.5 million square feet of general commercial, 2,358 traditional single family homes and 1,840 multi-family dwelling units, and 8 million square feet of industrial/business park  use. The proposed road was extended eastward as six lanes to connect with an envisioned interchange on Highway 99 midway between Austin and Jack Tone roads.
McKinley Expressway was then rechristened Raymus Expressway.
Then earlier this year the City Council approved a new Public Facilities Improvement Plan for transportation that designated the proposed roadway as four lanes from the 120 Bypass interchange expected to break ground in 2019 to Airport Way, two lanes from Airport Way to Main Street, four lanes from Main Street to the future extension of Atherton Drive, and six lanes from Atherton to the envisioned Highway 99 interchange.
It is now being called Raymus Parkway.
Two things are up in the air.
One involves the envisioned interchange between Jack Tone Road and Austin Road interchanges that could be deep-sixed if Caltrans goes with a 120-Bypass/Austin Road/Highway 99 interchange on steroids
What also hasn’t been decided is the exact alignment to get from Airport Way to Tinnin Road. The proposed Griffin Park project with 1,400 plus homes contains an alignment from Tinnin Road to Main Street.
Reworking Austin Road Business Park to take advantage of the Caltrans proposal could save existing and future residents somewhere in the neighborhood of $120 million. That was the price tag placed on the interchange the expressway, now a parkway, connecting with Highway 99 that the city would be able to jettison.
No one will complain much about that decision one way or another although it is clear only a fool wouldn’t want Manteca to hitch a ride on state freeway construction dollars.
The alignment from Airport Way to Tinnin Road is the most problematic. It impacts a lot of existing homes and small farm acreage.
Putting it down existing rural roads would be a disaster. It not only would be akin to dropping a nuclear bomb on the semi-rural lifestyle but it would likely start a long process of decay that typically happens when a major street is dropped down an existing street lined with homes. It means front yards are cutback and homes are closer to the new road that has significantly more traffic. Such areas tend to lose relative value as their attractiveness to buyers is reduced. It also defeats the purpose of either a parkway or an expressway as there would be numerous driveways that would impact traffic flow and safety.
Going behind the properties is somewhat better but the new road will virtually be in their backyards. Granted they are on parcels an acre or larger but what they will end up with is something they didn’t bargain for — city style traffic compromising the peace and quiet they sought when they bought their acre or so of rural heaven.
Toss the alignment for the cross levee required for 200-year flood protection and coming up with an amicable solution will be akin to trying to forge quicksand with a 50-pound backpack.
The city could do a couple of things such as ban trucks and heavily landscape the section from Tinnin Road to Airport Way wherever the alignment will end up. That would make it marginally better.
Or the City Council could bite the bullet and commit what a textbook planner would call blasphemy and people who actually live in Manteca might call a blessing — terminate Raymus Parkway at Tinnin Road from the east and at Airport Way from the west.  They can keep the name of McKinley Avenue from Airport Way to the 120 Bypass and Raymus Parkway from the east to Tinnin Road.
This makes sense for a number of reasons.
uThe souped-up Austin Road option for the 120 Bypass/Highway 99 solution would swing traffic from the 1,050-acre business park up Austin Road or Highway 99.
uNo home would be more than 1.5 to 2 miles from a freeway interchange either on the 120 Bypass of Highway 99.
uAtherton Drive as a four-lane road would take traffic when it is extended southward up toward the 120 Bypass where it parallels it a quarter of a mile away for easy access to what will be four interchanges — Main Street, Union Road, Airport Way, and McKinley Avenue.
uMcKinley Avenue would then T-intersect into Airport Way.
As it stands now there is a southern east-west connector. It’s called Atherton Drive. The fact the city has toned down Raymus Parkway from Airport Way to Main Street to two lanes is a concession to that fact.
City staff and consultants have repeatedly implied — and actually stated — over the years there wouldn’t be truck traffic on the expressway/parkway. So instead of posting “this is not a truck route signs” the city doesn’t have the manpower to enforce, why not eliminate the temptation?
In the end it will work better for existing and future rural residents as well as existing and future city residents not to mention taxpayers.