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City Considers Cash For Expressway Study
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Riverbank City Council seemed set to approve contributing $30,000 at a Nov. 13 meeting toward a $150,000 study of a proposed east-west road dubbed the North County Expressway. Riverbank officials have expressed concerns, however, the route not infringe on its growing and lucrative new commercial developments at Oakdale and Claribel roads. Oakdale City Council kicked in its $30,000 on Nov. 5 for a method of moving vehicles quickly and efficiently from Highway 99 at Salida to Highway 120-108 east of Oakdale. The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors agreed to contribute the same amount on Nov. 6. The City of Modesto and Stanislaus Council of Governments are expected to follow suit later this month. The multi-million dollar expressway would run south of Riverbank and Oakdale and replace the Oakdale Bypass plan that has been around for 50 years without ever coming to fruition. County Supervisor and Riverbank resident Bill O'Brien recommended the new proposal, commenting the Oakdale Bypass proposal (to circle traffic north of that city) has been around longer than he's been alive and is at a standstill. After years of talk, the California Transportation Commission used the Bypass funds to construct the Highway 99 and Whitmore Avenue interchange in Ceres and some other projects in Southern California. The CTC acted with a promise they would return the funds if the California Department of Transportation and StanCOG can define an alternative project and come up with a cost figure. The proposed Project Study Report will not select a preferred route but participation in the report at a cost of $30,000 is essential for Riverbank to have a say in the evaluation of proposed routes, Community Development Director J. D. Hightower wrote in his memo to council. The money will come from the city's Local Transportation Fund. "Riverbank is concerned about the timing of the PSR as related to completion of the (city's) general plan," Riverbank Mayor Chris Crifasi said in a letter to Stan Risen of the Stanislaus County Chief Executive's Office. "The city views any potential alignment of the expressway as the natural boundary between Modesto and Riverbank. Thus the expressway is an important point of analysis for the land use, circulation, air quality, noise and community character elements of the general plan. "Riverbank is extremely sensitive to the current and planned expansion of commercial activity at the intersection of Oakdale Road and Claribel Road," Crifasi continued. "Due to the importance of commercial activity for sales tax revenue and jobs/housing balance, the city cannot tolerate any interference to existing or planned commercial endeavors."