Do you exit Highway 99 at Kansas Avenue to get into Modesto? Things could change

While a new expressway is coming to west Modesto, that does not mean everything has to change.

The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors is expected Tuesday to give its support to rebuilding the Highway 99 southbound off-ramp at Kansas Avenue as part of the expressway project, which will serve as a new, roughly 4-mile route for Highway 132 from Dakota Avenue in west Modesto to Needham Street near downtown.

Supervisors are being asked to recommend to the California Department of Transportation that the Kansas off-ramp be rebuilt as part of the project. The alternative is to build a southbound Highway 99 off-ramp at Needham Street. But a staff report says rebuilding the Kansas off-ramp has the support of Caltrans, Modesto, the county and the Stanislaus Council of Governments, a regional transportation planning agency.

These local agencies are working with Caltrans on the $82 million expressway, which is expected to improve traffic and ease congestion. County Public Works Director Matt Machado said building the Needham off-ramp would entail closing the Kansas on- and off-ramps, which would harm nearby businesses. He said rebuilding the Kansas off-ramp will not require any of the businesses to move.

He said construction on the expressway should start in spring 2019, with its opening in late 2020. The expressway is phase one of the project to realign a portion of Highway 132 and get it off Maze Boulevard. Phase two would turn the two-lane expressway into a four-lane highway at an estimated cost of $132 million. Phase one is being paid for by local, state and federal funding.

Phase one suffered a recent hit when the California Transportation Commission took about $11 million in construction funding away, but local officials were able to get more than $3 million of that back.

Local officials will work to get the roughly $8 million from the state or federal government, said Modesto Councilman Bill Zoslocki, who serves as StanCOG’s policy board chairman. The board is made up of elected officials from the county and its nine cities. Machado said phase one also could look to Measure L — the transportation sales tax voters approved in November — for all or part of the roughly $8 million.

He stressed the Measure L funding would be from the funding allocated for regional transportation projects and not the funding the county and cities receive to fix their streets and roads. Zoslocki said the Highway 132 realignment is Measure L’s top-ranked regional project.

The supervisors meet at 6:30 p.m. in the basement chambers of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St.

Kevin Valine: 209-578-2316