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When can Ceres expect to see streets fixed?
Measure L monies about to roll into coffers
The city will begin an aggressive program of preserving Ceres streets, such as here on Roeding Road. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/ Courier file photo

Cities in Stanislaus County will soon be receiving their share of the new county half-cent transportation tax. So when can residents start seeing that tax money put to use?

According to City Engineer Daryl Jordan, various Ceres streets will start receiving treatment this spring.

In September the Ceres City Council approved a $511,587 contract with American Paving Systems, Inc. of Modesto, to slurry seal or cape seal seven miles of streets in Ceres. The work is using part of $1.2 million expected this fiscal year from the recent voter-approved Measure L, the half-cent sales tax initiative in Stanislaus County. The contract hasn't be started on the most neglected streets in Ceres yet because of the need for warmer temperature for adhesion. The work also has been delayed, said Ceres City Manager Toby Wells, because the city has yet to receive one Measure L tax dollar yet.

"We've got zero Measure L dollars yet," said Wells last week.

He explained that the tax money is being channeled first to the Stanislaus Council of Governments (StanCOG) which will allocate dollars to the cities and county. In December the council just approved the agreement spelling out how the money is exchanged.

On Nov. 8, 2016 the voters of Stanislaus County gave their consent to Measure L for a new tax to fund street improvements. Retailers and other businesses started collecting the tax on April 1, 2016 with the receipts soon to start rolling into the county and the nine cities' coffers. The tax revenue is a guaranteed funding source to fix roads for the next 25 years.

Revenues will be divided up among the nine cities and the county to spend on a myriad of road and transportation projects. 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, believe it or not."

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." A slurry seal prevents roads from breaking down to the point that more expensive reconstruction is needed.

The approach is very different than the City Council in Turlock, which has some of the worst streets in the county. Wells said Turlock is tackling its worst road problems in a "backwards" manner.

"When your roads are deteriorating you've got two different approaches," said Wells. "The engineering approach says preserve as many roads as you possibly can in the condition that they are as cheap as possible, such as put down slurry seals and other things that are more maintenance but they'll keep your roads in the preserved state for a longer period of time. Because the roads that are the East Avenues (Turlock), which are horrible, are the most expensive to fix. They're doing it completely different than Ceres. They're going to do their first expensive roads first."

Ceres streets scheduled to receive maintenance treatment the first year include: Rivercrest Court, Central Avenue (from Walnut to Laurel), Morgan Road, Tenth Street, Angie Avenue, Banyan Court, Caulfield Drive, Cling Court, Douglas Drive, King Henry Court, Moffet Road (from Collins to Service), Pineridge Drive, Puma Way, Rose Avenue (Glasgow to Darwin), Sandpoint Drive, Timberly Lane, Vera Way, Harold alley, Inland Court, Ashbury Court, Brookings Court, Eastgate Boulevard (Hatch to Kiwi), Farm Supply Drive, Hayes Court, Kinser Road, Tranquil Lane, Twin Bridges Drive, Third Street (Caswell to Thomas), Fifth Street (Magnolia to Whitmore), Chablis Way and Charlotte Avenue.

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 would enable the Mitchell/Service/99 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.