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Southern Gateway being prepared
Mitchell Road aerial
This aerial view of the Southern Gateway area to be developed along Highway 99. Traffic between Mitchell Road and Service Road has temporarily been severed as road widening takes place. Walmart Supercenter will develop on the bare corner at lower right. - photo by Jeff Benziger

Mitchell Road near Highway 99 is being widened significantly as the city prepares for a new interchange and the next wave of commercial growth at the Southern Gateway.

Work is expected to disrupt traffic in that area of Ceres for several months.

Paving contractor George Reed, Inc., has embarked on a $3.5 million contract to reconstruct and widen Mitchell Road between Service Road and the freeway and widen Mitchell Road. It also includes the updating and redesigning of the intersection of Service and Mitchell roads – at a cost of $1.095 million – to accommodate the future building of commercial centers and alignment for the future interchange projects. This project also incorporates improvements required by the proposed Mitchell Ranch Shopping Center, associated commercial developments and the planned new diverging diamond interchange on Service Road over Highway 99.

Public Facility Fees as well as conditioned fair share costs will be collected as an offset project costs.

City Manager Toby Wells said awarding the entire project at once is the most cost-effective and minimizes the impacts to the motoring public during construction rather than a piece-meal approach as projects come in over time.

In March the city received building plans and an application for a building permit for the Walmart Supercenter – nearly 11 years after the project was originally proposed. That delay was the result of legal challenges lodged against the Walmart-owned project by a group calling themselves “Citizens for Ceres.” The Ceres City Council approved the center in 2011 but the opposition group, led by Sherri Jacobson and attorney Bret Jolley, dragged a slow fight through the environmental process and the Stanislaus County Superior Court.