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City putting new road taxes to use
Roundabouts, more overlays in the works
The city is wrapping up the first phase of street overlays, accomplished by slurry or cape sealing, designed to preserve streets through Measure L funds. Another batch of overlays is being designed for this summer or fall. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

The passage of Measure L, the 20-year half-cent sales tax generating more money for roads, the city of Ceres has been busy applying new surfaces to a myriad of worn and cracked residential streets. But the city is also gearing up for more road projects that are not related to Measure L.

Work is soon to start on Mitchell Road between Roeding and Service roads. The city will be applying a new surface on the section as a continuation of a series of overlays but will also be working on the intersection at Service Road in anticipation of the coming Walmart Supercenter.

"We have traffic signal improvements at Mitchell and Roeding - that's adding a left-turn signal - so that project is underway," said City Manager Toby Wells.

A series of other projects are being lumped together, including improvements to the intersection of Service and Mitchell and an overlay on Mitchell Road all the way to Highway 99.

"It will be months for sure," said Wells.

The city is also planning to engineer new roundabouts for Central Avenue between Industrial Way and Pine Street as well as one at Morgan Road and Aristocrat Drive. The project was discussed at Monday's City Council meeting when permission was sought to allocate SB1 monies. The actual contracts, worth approximately $1.9 million, will be awarded at the next council meeting with the city expecting to receive $793,000 from SB 1 towards it.

Because of the unusual configuration of the intersection, Wells likened the roundabout design as being egg-shaped. He said the goal is to make traffic flow better to prevent backups, especially around the time school lets out at nearby Don Pedro Elementary and Central Valley High School.

The city plans to use federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funds.

The city has wrapping up a first batch of overlay projects funded by Measure L. It included mostly streets immediately west of Mitchell Road. City Engineer Daryl Jordan said many streets are receiving cape seals which could add another decade of life.

"We're trying to spread out the money the best we can," he said.

He said another round of seals will be coming this summer or fall.

In September the Ceres City Council approved a $511,587 contract with American Paving Systems, Inc. of Modesto, to slurry seal and/or cape seal the seven miles of streets. The work is using part of $1.2 million expected this fiscal year from Measure L. The tax revenue is a guaranteed funding source for the county and its nine cities to fix roads for the next 25 years. At least half of the tax must be spent on local streets, mostly on filling pot holes and covering streets with slurry seal.
Jordan said slurry seals will be done on streets in an order that makes the most sense.

The first ones to be done were "identified as in the worst condition and the last ones to have any type of rehabilitation done on them," said Jordan. He predicted that the work will be noticeable to motorists, saying "even the color makes them feel better."

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.

The approach that Ceres is taking is to first concentrate on maintaining the streets that are at the "breaking point before they get to that next level of improvement" said City Manager Toby Wells. A slurry seal prevents roads from breaking down to the point that more expensive reconstruction is needed.

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 will allocate $32 million to the Mitchell/Service/Highway 99 interchange with public facilities fees and state and federal grants making up the balance.

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 will enable the 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.