Modesto and Stanislaus County intend to form a joint powers authority to design and build a bypass of Highway 132 west of downtown Modesto.
The arrangement would be similar to the JPA created in 2008 to guide plans for the future North County Corridor. That entity is composed of Modesto, the county and the cities of Oakdale and Riverbank. Representatives meet every few months to share updates and hear from people affected by that future expressway.
Creating a Highway 132 JPA “allows the public to be more involved,” said Terry Withrow, a county supervisor who represents the area west of Modesto.
We want to make sure people get the truth, rather than the illusions being spread out there by a certain group of individuals.
Terry Withrow, Stanislaus County supervisor
Critics of the 132 bypass have found limited venues to complain; government agencies have not hosted a town hall meeting on the project since a large, surly crowd gave them an earful in August 2014. Since then, monthly meetings of the Stanislaus Council of Governments periodically have attracted people wary of the plan, whose key studies have not yet circulated publicly.
“This will be more transparent,” Withrow said. “This will get the facts out there, as opposed to misinformation being spread by a few.”
$82 million Estimated cost of two-lane segment from Highway 99 to Dakota Avenue at Highway 132
The plan consistently has drawn united support of elected representatives throughout the region who envision boosting Modesto’s profile with a smoother track toward the Bay Area than afforded by the current Highway 132, which doubles as Maze Boulevard and features several stops west of downtown. They’ve cobbled from various sources $59 million, but need $82 million for its two-lane first phase, previously expected to start about 2018, plus $215 million more to expand to four lanes and to more than double its length, in another decade or so.
$297 million Estimated cost of four-lane segment from Highway 99 to Gates Road
Critics fear losing property or value of their land as well as country atmosphere. Others are concerned about noise, dust and barium contamination in soil scooped decades ago from the former FMC plant nearby and piled in three hills for a future raised freeway segment.
Scientists with state agencies have said the soil poses no threat to people. The California Department of Transportation favors capping the berms in concrete rather than trucking away the tainted soil, although an official remediation plan – and other environmental studies – won’t be released until next year.
The 132 JPA would have two representatives from the county, two from Modesto and a fifth from another Stanislaus city. The last would be a member of StanCOG, a transportation agency composed of elected officials from the county and its nine cities.
StanCOG’s policy board will consider its part in forming the Highway 132 JPA at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the third-floor chamber at 1111 I St., Modesto.
The board also expects an update on Measure L, a proposed half-percent increase in sales tax across the county to pay for street repairs and other transportation improvements. If approved by voters in November, Measure L could provide $74 million toward the Highway 132 bypass, according to a spending plan.
Garth Stapley: 209-578-2390