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Transportation tax to roll in for Ceres streets
A pothole on Roeding Road. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/ Courier file photo

April 1 marked the first day of collection for 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.

The first quarter of revenue should be rolling in by September, offering a guaranteed funding source to fix roads for the next 25 years.

The tax is being collected on every taxable sales in the county and divided up among the nine cities and the county to spend on a myriad of road and transportation projects. At least half of the new tax money must be spent on local streets, mostly on filling pot holes and covering streets with slurry seal.

The city's Engineering Department is already working on plans to get slurry seal projects going by summer, said City Manager Toby Wells.

A list of specific Ceres streets to be slurry sealed over the next five years is available on the website, under the local investments tab. Each year's worth of preventative maintenance is costing about $1.2 million.

To get the dollars to stretch the farthest, said Wells, the city will be concentrating on maintaining the streets that are at the "breaking point before they get to that next level of improvement." A slurry seal prevents roads from breaking down to the point that more expensive reconstruction is needed.

Ceres 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.

All those streets may not be finished the first year, said Wells, because good weather is required to seal roads.

Streets to be treated in 2019 include: Darrah Street, from Lois to Central; Denny Court, Don Pedro Road, from its west end to Blaker road; Glenda Road, from Donna Way to Central Avenue; Keating Court, from the north end to Glasgow; Kinser Road, from Blaker Road to McKittrick Court; Lawrence Street, from Fifth to Sixth streets; Magnolia Street, from Central to Fourth; Manassas Court, from Woodview to the east end; Plumeria Court; Railroad Avenue, from Industrial Way to Collins Road; Rose Avenue, from Garrison to Whitmore, and from Darwin to Fowler; Sequoia Street, from Memorial Drive to Central Ave.; Tasha Drive, from Morgan to Cassie Lane; Thomas Street, from Second to Fourth streets; Wallace Avenue, from Douglas to Henry; Sand Bar Court from the west end to Riverbend; Armando Court; Boothe Road, from Hatch to Waynesboro Drive, and from Moonview to Whitmore; Starke Drive, from Ocaso Way to Soleado Drive; Fifth Street, from Magnolia to North streets; Seventh Street, from Lawrence to Park streets; Adrien Way, from Angie to Mitchell Road; Ambleside Way, from Kinser to Caulfield; and Canyon Drive, from Oak Ridge Drive to Moffett Road.

Measure L will raise an estimated $960 million, or $38 million per year, for the county and nine cities to spend on road maintenance, new road project construction, other transportation infrastructure and improved services for the elderly and disabled. Ceres will get to spend an estimated $30.5 million for local street and road repairs over the 25 years. It includes repairs for 135 separate roadway projects in the first five years.

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

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;

The tax would steer $30.74 million to the Mitchell/Service/Highway 99 interchange and $17 million to the county's $71.7 million Faith Home-Garner expressway connection which would ultimately divert truck traffic away from Mitchell Road. Both projects are very high on the city's priority list and are expected to make significant impact to county transportation corridors by removing truck traffic off Mitchell Road.

Revenue from the new tax will not entirely pay for the $123 million Service/Mitchell/Highway 99 interchange now being planned. The rest of the project will be paid for by 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.