MODESTO — After decades of planning, it appears Caltrans is ready to move on a $214 million project to improve connectivity between Highway 132 and Highway 99 in downtown Modesto.
An open house will be held Feb. 22 so residents and businesses can look at plans for the highway extension, give input and ask questions.
The draft environmental impact report was released in late January and was the first document to give the community a real idea of how the project will affect homes and businesses.
The report says 32 homes and 11 businesses would need to be relocated for the extension. People and businesses forced to move will negotiate with government buyers who must pay fair market value.
The report addresses one of the leading concerns of residents. Dirt mounds that were created during excavation in the 1960s and contain barium would be covered with pavement to mitigate health risks.
The plan calls for the creation of a four-lane freeway/expressway that would connect Highway 132 to Modesto. Highway 132 provides a connection to Tracy and is a main road for truck and commuter traffic. Planners say the new freeway would reduce travel times.
The first phase of the two-phase project could begin construction in late 2018 and may open to traffic as early as 2020, according to the study. The second phase would start in 2026 and finish in 2028.
In Phase 1, a two-lane expressway would be built between North Dakota Avenue to SR-99. A traffic signal and a second left turn lane will be added from eastbound Maze Boulevard to North Dakota Avenue.
Phase 2, slated for completion in 2028, would include the construction of a four-lane freeway from North Dakota Avenue to SR-99, with a partial interchange at North Carpenter Road.
Phase 1 is estimated to cost approximately $82 million and Phase 2 is estimated to cost up to $178 million.
The informational open house will be 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Red Event Center, 921 Eighth St., Modesto. Representatives from the city of Modesto, Stanislaus County, StanCOG and Caltrans will be there to answer questions. The deadline to submit comments is Feb. 24.
The study can also be seen on StanCOG’s website.