The concept of an expressway across the northern part of Stanislaus County got a boost Tuesday when county supervisors unanimously kicked in money for a key $150,000 study with four partner agencies.
In two days this week, Oakdale and county leaders have voted to spend $30,000 each to study moving vehicles efficiently from Highway 99 at Salida to Highway 108-120 east of Oakdale. Modesto, Riverbank and the Stanislaus Council of Governments will consider identical contributions for the study later this month.
"Whatever traffic snarls we have now are going to be minuscule" compared with future congestion, Supervisor Jeff Grover said, if leaders don't plan well.
The multibillion-dollar expressway would rely heavily on fees from future development.
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The expressway, which would run south of Oakdale, would replace a 50-plus-year plan to redirect mountainbound cars from the middle of Oakdale onto a northern bypass.
"The Oakdale Bypass (proposal) has been around longer than I've been alive," Supervisor Bill O'Brien, 34, said, "and it's completely stalled. The only way (to get back on track) is to do this project study report."
Supervisor Tom Mayfield grumbled about the county being $98 million behind in road repairs and predicted that county residents never would approve a sales tax increase for transportation. Supervisor Jim DeMartini said the expressway must not siphon money from road projects in other parts of the county.
But both joined the others in favor of the study, and O'Brien, whose district includes Riverbank and Oakdale, praised cooperation among the five agencies.
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2390.