No need to travel to Sacramento today if youre seized with a burning desire to see for yourself how state bureaucracy affects Modesto.
For the first time in history, state highway leaders will gather here.
By coincidence, among many decisions on a busy agenda filled with projects from San Diego to the Oregon border is a $43.8 million remake of Modestos Pelandale Avenue interchange with Highway 99.
Transportation leaders in Modesto and throughout Stanislaus County began lobbying more than a year ago to hold a meeting of the powerful California Transportation Commission. Their vision becomes reality this morning in the basement chamber at Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St. in Modesto, where the states 13 commissioners will squeeze onto a dais meant for much smaller panels.
Some state commissioners arrived early for a reception Monday at the Gallo Center for the Arts. City officials enlisted private supporters, including civil engineering firms doing business with the California Department of Transportation, to pay for the event.
Those attending picked up their own dinner tabs at Galletto Ristorante.
Todays business meeting begins at 9 a.m. and should wrap up about 3 p.m., if everything goes smoothly. Commissioners are expected to weigh highway and transit projects worth nearly $1 billion combined.
Technically, they will be asked to add the Pelandale project to a list funded by Proposition 1B bonds approved by voters throughout the state a few years ago.
The Pelandale projects cost is estimated at $57 million. Commissioners will be asked to set aside $43.8 million for construction; the rest already has been spent on design work, environmental studies, buying land and compensating owners of displaced businesses that were in the way of a beefier crossing.
Work could start in the spring.
Planning agencies from the San Joaquin Valleys eight counties agree that rebuilding the interchange is their top priority at this time, wrote Terri King of Kings County, who is chairwoman of a valley consortium. She called Pelandales interchange, built as a country crossing decades before the area became a shopping powerhouse, obsolete.
The regions commuters, agricultural operations and business owners are anxious to benefit from much needed relief, King wrote.
Traffic at the crossing sometimes backs up onto Highway 99, used by about 100,000 vehicles each day.
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2390.