By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Students will be safer on Whitmore Avenue
Whitmore avenue work
Construction crews from United Pavement Maintenance started work early yesterday to beat the heat as they paved part of Moore Road at Whitmore Avenue. The work is part of a $2 million project to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety. - photo by Jeff Benziger

Work is continuing on the Whitmore Avenue improvements between Moore Road and Eastgate Boulevard.

Construction crews from United Pavement Maintenance of Hughson were busy yesterday adding pavement at the intersection of Whitmore Avenue and Moore Road where concrete medians have been constructed.

The project involves the widening Whitmore Avenue between Moore Road and Eastgate Boulevard with asphalt overlay, and new 10-foot-wide sidewalk with curb and gutter to make for a better and safer pedestrian traffic on the student route to and from Cesar Chavez Jr. High and La Rosa Elementary School. The work also includes installing a new sewer main and sewer laterals, and water services and fire hydrants as well as storm drainage piping. A new center median down Whitmore has been constructed. To improve safety of pedestrians, signage, a pedestrian beacon signal system, solar speed flashing equipment and street lighting will also be installed.

“The main goal of this project is pedestrian improvements for the school children,” said City Engineer Daniel Padilla. “Some students from the apartment complexes, if they’re starting on the south side of the road, just walk in the dirt.”

Those substandard conditions for pedestrians will disappear with the corridor improvements.

United Pavement Maintenance is performing the work for $1.96 million.

Construction is expected to be completed before the 2020-21 school year begins.

The widening will bring Whitmore Avenue traffic about 10 feet closer to the front of four residential properties on the block to the south, said Padilla.

“Where students are currently walking, that’s almost going to be in the same spot.”

Ceres City Manager Tom Westbrook said the project have been discussed for years but were complicated by the fact that the southern side of Whitmore Avenue was in county jurisdiction. Also, one owner had to be coaxed in time into giving up 30 feet of right-of-way since the city didn’t pay for the strip of property. But in exchange the owners get free curb, gutter and sidewalk improvements which generally is a homeowner cost.

The work will complement the Whitmore Ranch Specific Plan project which was recently annexed to the city for the development of up to 441 new dwelling units to Ceres south of Whitmore Avenue between Moore Road and Cesar Chavez Junior High School.

The annexation, recently approved by the Stanislaus Local Agency Formation Commission (SLAFCO), included La Rosa Elementary and Cesar Chavez Junior High School as well as lands presently zoned for agricultural use.

The plan earmarks:

• 28 acres for the development of low-density residential uses, or 196 single-family homes with an average lot size of 5,000 square feet;

• 6.6 acres for medium-density residential uses, or 85 dwelling units with an average lot size of 3,000 square feet;

• 6.4 acres for high-density apartment or condominiums that could result in 160 living units;

• 5.2 acres for open space, including a bike and pedestrian corridor leading to the junior high’s western boundary.

Westbrook said the annexation was initiated and funded by Steve and Grant Alvernaz, owners of a 20-acre chunk of the project. The annexation was considered orderly because at the eastern end sit both schools which were in county jurisdiction with the city supplying sewer and water to both.

Previously the schools sat in county jurisdiction. The city committed to bring the campuses into the city limits when it originally agreed to supply water and sewer service to them.