South Stanislaus County businesses looking to move their products up and down the state and residents who commute to the Bay Area every day for work have something in common: a need for a better route from Highway 99 to Interstate 5.
The South County Corridor project aims to fill this need by turning one of the many country roads that currently connect Hwy. 99 to I-5 into a four-lane expressway. In January, the Stanislaus Council of Governments commissioned a feasibility study be done on the best routes for the corridor and public workshops were held to gain community input.
Seven months later, StanCOG is coming back to the south Stanislaus County communities and once again asking for input, but this time on a narrowed down list of possible routes.
“We started with over 90 options for potential alignments connecting Interstate 5 and Highway 99,” said StanCOG Executive Director Rosa De Leon Park. “We have narrowed that down to 10 based on a tremendous amount of public input and technical evaluation and are now asking for more comments during this final round of workshops.”
The Turlock workshop will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Yosemite Room of City Hall, 156 S. Broadway. Workshops will also be held in Patterson on Sept. 2 and Newman on Sept. 3.
"In addition to repairing existing city roadways, the South County Corridor linking Turlock to Interstate 5 remains my top transportation priority. Turlock's residents and industries need a safe, efficient and reliable transportation link between Highway 99 and I-5," said Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth, who also represents the City on the StanCOG Policy Board.
Westward route options to connect Hwy 99 to Interstate 5 include West Main, Fulkerth Road and Crows Landing Road, though finding a thoroughfare to benefit Turlock, Patterson and Newman could prove tricky. Presently these cities have contributed financially to the feasibility study as well as the Stanislaus Council of Governments, whose policy board will have the final say on the route upon the completion of the study.
"Turlock would like to see West Main Street become the corridor. Whether this corridor travels through Newman or Patterson is a matter for the citizens of west Stanislaus to decide. I remain committed to working with both communities to see this project become a reality," said Soiseth about the proposed routes.
During the first round of public workshops, there was discussion about who would most benefit from the possible routes. While exploring the Crows Landing Road option may prove counterintuitive to Bay Area bound travelers, or trucks heading to the port of Oakland, some preferred this route over widening Fulkerth Road which could negatively affect existing dairies adjacent to the street as well as the interchange at Highway 99. Other concerns included depleting ground water sources as water becomes increasingly shallow the nearer it gets to the San Joaquin River. Establishing bike routes were discussed as well as taking into account grade separation, or areas that may require a bridge or cross rail road tracks, for instance.
Something else under consideration is the impact the South County Corridor will have on farmland. Executive Director of the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau Wayne Zipser attended the Turlock workshop in January and noted that while the general farming community is not opposed to the project, there is apprehension.
“As far as the expansion is concerned, if it is to move goods and services than we’re good,” said Zipser in January. “If it’s to move people we’ve got a problem.”
For more information about the South County Corridor project, visit http://www.valleyvisionstanislaus.com/south-county-corridor-feasibility-study.html