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Measure L road projects could start by this summers end

April 1 will mark the first day of the new half-cent sales tax for transportation funding under Measure L - passed on Nov. 8 - and cities like Ceres are already formulating ways to spend the money to improve roads.

For the next 25 years the tax will be collected on every taxable sales made in the county and divvied up among the nine cities and the county to spend on a myriad of projects. At least half of the new tax money must be spent on local streets, mostly on maintenance to fill pot holes and slurry seal overlays.

StanCOG met in December and learned that the first receipts will be coming to cities between July and September. The city's Engineering Department is already working on plans to get a slurry seal project going by summer, said City Manager Toby Wells.

Streets to receive maintenance treatment the first year include Rivercrest Court, Central Avenue (from Walnut to Laurel), Morgan Road, Tenth Street, Angie Avenue, Banyan Court, Caulfield Drive, Cling Court, Douglas Drive, King Henry Court, Moffet Road (from Collins to Service), Pineridge Drive, Puma Way, Rose Avenue (Glasgow to Darwin), Sandpoint Drive, Timberly Lane, Vera Way, Harold alley, Inland Court, Ashbury Court, Brookings Court, Eastgate Boulevard (Hatch to Kiwi), Farm Supply Drive, Hayes Court, Kinser Road, Tranquil Lane, Twin Bridges Drive, Third Street (Caswell to Thomas), Fifth Street (Magnolia to Whitmore), Chablis Way and Charlotte Avenue.

A list of specific Ceres streets to be fixed is available on the website, under the local investments tab.

Measure L enacts a 25-year half-cent sales tax that will raise an estimated $960 million for the county and its nine cities to spend on road maintenance, new road project construction, other transportation infrastructure and improved services for the elderly and disabled.

Passage of the tax makes Stanislaus County a "self help" county and allows for the receipt of more state and federal highway monies.

The tax would generate an estimated $38 million per year to be shared in the county, or $960 million over the 25-year life. Half of the funds would go to cities and the county to spend on a list of road repairs. In the case of Ceres, $30.5 million would be available for local street and road repairs. It includes repairs for 135 separate roadway projects in the first five years. A list of exact streets to be fixed is detailed on the website, under the local investments tab.

The 25-year countywide half-cent sales tax is expected to generate $480.2 million for local streets and roads, $48 million for bike and pedestrian paths, $96 million for traffic management, $269 million for regional projects and $67.2 million for transit services.

The Stanislaus Council of Governments (StanCOG) has outlined the following overall formula for the spending of the tax monies:

• 50 percent on street repairs;

• 28 percent on regional construction projects;

• 10 percent on traffic management, such as traffic signalization to improving local intersections to reduce vehicle wait time;

• 7 percent for point-to-point services, better transit connections between unincorporated areas and services in Modesto, transit and some money for van connections to the Altamont Corridor Express train station;

• 5 percent spent on pedestrian and bike path programs;
Ceres city officials are happy that the tax would steer $30.74 million for the Mitchell/Service/Highway 99 interchange and $17 million toward the county's $71.7 million Faith Home-Garner expressway connection which would ultimately divert truck traffic away from Mitchell Road.

"Both of those projects are very high on the city's priority list," said City Manager Toby Wells. "Both of them would make significant impact to our transportation corridors and improvements to Mitchell by removing truck traffic off Mitchell Road."

The tax will not entirely pay for the $123 million Mitchell-Service interchange. The rest of the funds would be derived from public facility fees, redevelopment bond proceeds and the pursuit of federal and state grants. Wells is optimistic that the tax would enable the Mitchell/Service/99 interchange to break ground in four years and be completed in 2023.

Hughson will receive $6 million over the 25-year tax life for road maintenance and fund roundabout.

It also provides $600,000 for the Safe Routes to Schools and Hatch Road multi-use trail improvements.

Modesto gets the lion's share of regional projects that would benefit all who shop and travel there. About $25 million will go toward the upgrade of the Briggsmore-Carpenter interchange; $2.6 million to widen McHenry Avenue to five lanes between Ladd and Hogue roads; $7.9 million towards construction of a new eight-lane interchange at Standiford and Highway 99 near the Vintage Faire Mall; and $74.2 million to complete the State Route 132 by constructing a four-lane expressway from Highway 99 to Gates Road. Modesto's share of local street fix money would total $171.8 million.

Oakdale would receive $18.5 million for local streets and road repair and maintenance. Funds are also allocated for immediate repairs for roads surrounding schools, hospital and downtown Oakdale and $1.85 for Safe Routes to Schools and other bike and pedestrian improvements. Oakdale would receive $1 million for intersection improvements for 108/120 at Rodeo. It also will contribute $59.7 million towards completion of the Oakdale Bypass.

The tax will help Turlock by fixing poor roads, constructing a new intersection at West Main Street and 18 new traffic signals. Turlock officials are pleased that $2.53 million would go toward the $12.7 million reconstruction of the Highway 99 interchange at Fulkerth Road.