By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Kline’s attempt to halt Morgan Road widening rejected
• Project was awarded on June 13
Widening need of Morgan
As the city plans to widen Morgan Road in front of four ranchettes, it also noticed that significant pavement cracking is occurring which is triggering a resurfacing project along the entire stretch – from Whitmore Avenue to Service Road. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier file photo

Two weeks after the Ceres City Council awarded a bid to widen Morgan Road and add sidewalks along certain stretches, Councilman Mike Kline attempted to rescind the work. 

The council rejected Kline’s request for the council to revisit the June 13 approval of the spending of $3.4 million to widen sections of Morgan Road and install sidewalks as part of the “Safe Routes to School” program.

Kline cast one of three votes on June 15 to award the bid to United Pavement Maintenance with James Casey voting no.

The project will include pedestrian facility and street improvements, including pedestrian refuge islands, crosswalk improvements, curb ramp improvements, sidewalk installation and infill, street lighting, pavement overlay and striping on Morgan Road from Whitmore Avenue to Service Road.

Kline sided with the owners of four ranchettes whose front yards will be taken for the full widening of the street.

The work is partially being funded by an Active Transportation Plan – Safe Route to Schools Grant (SRTS) given to the city in June 2017. Acting Public Works Director Sam Royal said if the city doesn’t complete the project by the end of the year “we could possibly lose that grant.”

The grant is worth about $674,000.

As the city was out surveying the project, the owners of ranchettes at 3307, 3413, 3507, and 3537 Morgan Road became upset about plans to widen the road and take 30 feet of their frontage. Those properties were determined by the city to be encroaching into the public right of way based on recorded maps and deeds. The owners proposed some design alternatives which were ultimately rejected by city engineers.

The city has agreed to work with the owners to relocate fencing and trees where possible and to extend sewer and water laterals to each of the four properties. Kline said he was concerned ranch owners keeping double driveways and said the city engineering department should have considered them.

Ranchette owner Ray Smith, who raised objections in November to the project, has made the loudest protest. New City Engineer Kevin Waugh told Kline last week that as part of negotiations, Smith’s property received a third driveway and the possibility of a fourth one, whereas the other three parcels only got two driveways. Waugh also said the city looked at Smith’s request to eliminate any parking at the curb in front of his corner ranchette but “it was determined to be not according to the master plan and the drawings that the city paid for in the design.” He said redesigning the project could prove too costly and throw off the construction schedule. 

On June 13 Councilman James Casey cast the lone vote on the project, questioning whether the ranchette owners were notified at the outset of planning.

“We approved it – I’m fine with the project like we approved,” said Vice Mayor Bret Silveira.

“Yeah, I agree,” replied Mayor Javier Lopez. “I’m okay with the way the project is now.”