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A new road west

Planning could soon start for south county highway

A new road west

The above map indicates the study area for the Patterson section of the proposed South County Corridor. The yellow lines demarcate the boundaries of the study area, while the red line – trave...

POSTED August 29, 2009 11:46 a.m.
The long drive west to Patterson may become quite a bit speedier, should the county receive requested funding to begin work on the oft-discussed South County Corridor highway from Turlock to Patterson.
But any new highways certainly won’t be coming anytime soon, given the need for in-depth planning.
“Be prepared for a long, protracted discussion,” said Stanislaus County District 3 Supervisor and Vice-Chairman of the Board Jeff Grover.
The Stanislaus County Council of Governments, in association with the City of Patterson, submitted an application on April 1 for $120,000 in State Partnership Planning Grant funds. The County expects to hear back as to whether funding will be awarded in September or October.
From there, the planning process will take years to create the best long-term solution for south Stanislaus County’s transportation needs. According to Stanislaus County C.E.O. Rick Robinson, there will be, “tremendous opportunity for public input,” during the process.
The initial funding would be used to conduct a feasibility study, which is the first step in the project development process. Such studies look to gather information that validates the need to continue development.
Among the potential preexisting conditions that could classify a south county corridor as realistically impossible are cost, environmental, and social considerations. Alternatives and design concepts to mitigate these concerns will be drafted as part of the feasibility study, as will recommended routes and an implementation plan.
While the south county corridor will stretch to Turlock, the initial feasibility study area will only cover the land near Patterson from Interstate 5 to the San Joaquin River.
“This is just the first stop of a fairly long project,” said County Public Works Director Matt Machado. “The study will work its way east, if funding is available.”
The engineering concerns near Patterson are more plentiful due to the possible need for a new I-5 interchange and a new bridge to cross the San Joaquin. As a result, planners thought it made sense to determine feasibility in the most challenging areas of the project before beginning work on the comparatively simple Turlock portion of the route.
The exact route has not been determined — and would not be determined through the feasibility study — but discussions are already underway on what the best route may be. The South County Corridor could travel the route currently used by Fulkerth Road, Monte Vista Avenue, or, as Turlock would prefer due to the direct link to their Westside Industrial Specific Plan industrial park, West Main Street.
“In my estimation, West Main would not be a very good route because of all the curb cuts, and there are a lot of dairies and truck traffic on that road already,” said Stanislaus County District 5 Supervisor and Chairman of the Board Jim DeMartini. “I guess that’s farther down the road, though.”
The City of Turlock is not directly involved with discussions at this early point in the planning process.
According to Machado, the project’s relationship with Turlock will likely remain somewhat informal at first. As the project progresses to the point where studies must begin on the Turlock portion of the route, the City of Turlock will play a larger role.
Eventually, a Joint Powers Agreement between the City of Patterson, Stanislaus County, and the City of Turlock will be drafted, at which point formal discussions will begin regarding the South County Corridor route. Also of concern to the JPA would be determining a source of funding for the Corridor, which would likely be shared proportionally between member agencies.
Even though funding a multi-million dollar project may seem out of reach for local governments right now, county supervisors encouraged planners to move the project onward. As planning will take years, they stressed the importance of having the project ready when the economy rebounds and funding becomes available.
“I strongly recommend you continue to push forward,” Grover said. “There’s going to be another time when it’s right to start talking about a transportation sales tax.”
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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