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Morgan Road widening project is underway
• Ranchettes along busy west Ceres street are losing 30 feet of frontage
Construction to widen Morgan Road
Construction is in progress to widen Morgan Road south of Sinclear Elementary School and the unfortunate casualties are the frontages of ranchette properties whose owners who’ve enjoyed the distance from traffic. - photo by Jeff Benziger

Construction is taking place on Morgan Road to widen and make other improvements but puts traffic closer to several ranchette homes than the owners want to see.

In June the Ceres City Council awarded the bid to widen Morgan Road and add sidewalks along certain stretches to United Pavement as part of a $3.4 million “Safe Routes to School” project.

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.

The work is partially being funded by an Active Transportation Plan – Safe Route to Schools Grant (SRTS) of approximately $674,000 given to the city in June 2017.

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.

One of those protesting was ranchette owner Ray Smith, who raised objections in November to the project. He claimed that the affected property owners weren’t advised about the city’s plans to take their property for street widening.

Acting Public Works Director Sam Royal said if the city doesn’t complete the project by the end of the year the city “could possibly lose that grant.”

On June 13 the council voted 3-1 to proceed with the work and award the bid. Only Councilman James Casey voted no, questioning whether the ranchette owners were kept in the dark about the project from the outset. Two weeks later, Councilman Mike Kline attempted to have the council rescind the contract and revisit the project but didn’t have the votes.