Big rigs are taking toll on Patterson's roads

kcarlson@modbee.comJune 20, 2014 

Patterson isn’t just a farming town, anymore. The West Side city has transformed itself as a distribution hub with millions of square feet of warehouse space, and more to come.

All of those 18-wheelers and cars driven by warehouse employees are taking a toll on nearby county roads that never were built for this type of traffic, officials said.

Engineers for the city and Stanislaus County have hatched a plan for improvements to Sperry Avenue and Rogers Road, though other county roads are affected. The city and county would evenly divide the costs of about $1.7 million in roadwork. Officials also are poised to start designing a bigger interchange at Sperry and Interstate 5.

County Public Works Director Matt Machado said traffic on Rogers Road has tripled since the first warehouses were built in 2006. The counts are 1,650 vehicles per day, compared with 550 per day eight years ago, he said. A combination of heavy trucks and general motorists discovered Rogers as a connector to business parks in west Patterson.

Now, the county is hearing public complaints about deteriorated road conditions. The plan calls for improving 2.5 miles of Rogers Road, from Zacharias Road to Highway 33.

In addition, a 1,900-foot section of Sperry, between Rogers and the I-5 interchange, needs to be rebuilt.

“The roads were never designed for that kind of traffic and that kind of use; they were designed for farmers,” Machado said. “We have been talking with Patterson. They are sympathetic to the problem.”

City Engineer Ken Irwin said the City Council may consider the proposed work early next month.

Patterson has heard criticism that it doesn’t exact enough fees from new business parks to pay for the impact on roads and intersections. According to a fee study adopted in 2006, the traffic fees assessed to developers work out to 75 cents a square foot for nonresidential development, compared with the county’s 95 cents.

The city fees vary by the type of land use and associated traffic upgrades. Industrial projects are charged 7 cents a square foot and business parks are expected to pay 16 cents a foot for upgrading the Sperry and I-5 interchange. For general traffic upgrades, the fees are 60 cents a foot for light industry and 18 cents for heavy industry. New commercial developments are expected to pay far higher charges.

Patterson is working on a new transportation plan, which will lead to updated fees, Irwin said. By comparison, Lathrop in San Joaquin County charges 38 cents a foot for warehouses to pay for regional transportation needs and charges 92 cents a foot to industrial projects for local transportation.

With more acreage reserved for business parks along I-5, it won’t be long before Patterson’s only freeway interchange is gridlocked, Machado predicted. In December, the Local Agency Formation Commission gave approval for annexing the 1,100-acre West Patterson Business Park expansion.

Machado said the city and county have an agreement for preparing environmental work and preliminary designs for a bigger Sperry at I-5 interchange with signals, wider ramps and capacity to serve growth for 20 years. Local funding from the city and county will need to pay for the upgrades in the $10 million to $15 million range, he said.

To help cover the county’s share, one-time fees have been assessed to new Diablo Grande homes on the premise that residents of the foothills resort use Sperry and the I-5 ramps.

Within a few weeks, a consultant will be sought to prepare the studies. The interchange will need to be upgraded within five to 10 years, Machado said.

There is no timeline yet for the work on Sperry Avenue and Rogers Road. “We are working well with the county,” Irwin said. “We are happy with the partnership we are starting to develop.”

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at or (209) 578-2321.

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