MODESTO — Have you seen the game show "Family Feud"? One family wins, which means one family loses. This week's column is a little like that.
We're dealing with two roads in north Modesto Claratina and Pelandale avenues. Actually, they're the same road: Claratina runs east of McHenry Avenue, and Pelandale runs west from Modesto's main north-south artery.
Art Carl of Modesto asked when Claratina Avenue will be widened between McHenry Avenue and Oakdale Road.
"It's a two-lane road now," he said. "A year or two ago, they resurfaced one-half of the road. Granted, the other half was not as bad as the half they repaired, but now it's deteriorating fast. Claratina is a much-used road and it's time, in my view, for the road to be widened."
You're in luck, Art. Or maybe it depends on how you define the word. If you get an answer in a couple of years, will that still seem lucky? At least you're on the drawing board.
Well, sort of.
Brent Sinclair, director of community and economic development for the city of Modesto, called that stretch of Claratina a "high-priority project in our capital improvements program." He said the city hopes to award a contract later this year to a design company "to begin full design work. It is a very complex project, as it involves major PG&E facilities and Hetch Hetchy facilities."
Hetch Hetchy? I thought that was in Yosemite. Turns out it also refers to "a water-power district that has a 110-foot right of way crossing Claratina just east of McHenry," Sinclair said. "The right of way contains massive overhead regional electric transmission lines and underground water pipes."
Right of way aside, expect good things, Art. Sinclair said they are looking at expanding Claratina to at least four lanes, and possibly to five or six lanes between McHenry and Coffee Road. But don't expect to see any construction work until 2015, he added.
Now for the bad news...
However, that's much better news than Jill Rawe of Modesto is getting. Jill said she has "enjoyed the added lanes and cross-town traffic access that Pelandale has to offer, but I think the city stopped a little too soon with their improvements. There is a cement median filled with dirt and weeds that greets visitors and residents to our community along the entire stretch of the road.
"I am from the East Bay Walnut Creek, Concord and love the beautiful trees and shrubs they have in their road medians," she said. "Is there a plan to do something with this stretch of road? If so, what is the time line?"
Novelists and journalists from other parts of the country like to paint Modesto as slow, backward and rural. I recently reread James Patterson's excellent "Women's Murder Club" series, for example, and found that he had a character in one of his first books set in the present day, you understand, not in the 1800s renting a cabin in Modesto. Cabin? We're not exactly a mountain community.
But, sadly in this case, neither are we the East Bay.
"Unfortunately, the Pelandale project lacked the funds to complete the median landscaping," Sinclair said.
The Claratina project, on the other hand, will include low-maintenance and low-water planting materials for its median, he said. "If the budget allows, we would like to continue the same theme to the median in Pelandale and integrate the two projects together. Our priority, however, is to get the Claratina project under way."
When a government entity tells you, especially in this economy, that work will be done "if the budget allows," it's a safe bet not to expect results anytime soon. At the very least, Jill, I can confirm that there is no time line. Doesn't seem fair, does it, to have the later project get the plants?
Pelandale appears to be the family loser in this affair of related streets.
NEXT WEEK: Sidewalk woes
Send questions to Sue Nowicki at firstname.lastname@example.org, fax to (209) 578-2207 or mail to P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352-5256.