Transportation leaders agreed Wednesday to spend money left over from widening East Yosemite Boulevard to improve nearby railroad crossings.
That should persuade the California Department of Transportation to allow the construction of two eastbound lanes from Riverside Drive to McClure Road, but not for several months. Funneling cars into one lane at that stretch is causing irritating backups.
Members of the Stanislaus Council of Governments' policy board, frustrated with three years of delays and a $2 million project overrun, asked who was to blame for the latest wrinkle.
Vince Harris of StanCOG said his agency, whose main mission is transportation planning, "tried to take a leap" into construction by widening Yosemite, also known as Highway 132.
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Caltrans, which retains authority over state highways, demanded costly improvements after a "higher-level review" that StanCOG did not anticipate, officials said.
While the $10 million project cost $2 million more than initially projected, StanCOG saved enough from competitive bidding to pay $405,000 for new railroad crossings a few yards south of Yosemite, at McClure and Beard Avenue, plus $77,000 for design work. Stanislaus County will improve the crossing at Mariposa Road.
County Supervisor Vito Chiesa asked if last-minute demands could derail future projects. Oakdale Mayor Farrell Jackson predicted no, because some leaders are fed up and won't allow StanCOG to try more construction projects, he said.
Modesto City Councilman Brad Hawn downplayed criticism, saying, "There's probably some inconvenience in there, but not a whole lot."
Harris said a second eastbound lane won't be open for eight to 12 months.
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2390.