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May 30, 2023

Bill Barnhardt wasn't thrilled with the decision by the Manteca Planning Commission last eek to approve a car wash, gas station, convenience store and a fast food restaurant on the northwest of Daniels Street and Airport Way.

The Manteca resident called the project "Chick-fil-A on steroids", a reference to the 28-month long traffic snafu the chicken fast food place on Northwoods Avenue created on East Yosemite Avenue before it was significantly improved although not completely eliminated.

Anyone that drives through the Daniels Street and Airport Way intersection understands Barnhardt's sentiments.

It is a congested intersection — arguably the city's most when Saturday and Sunday rolls around — as locals and residents from nearby communities head to Costco, ball players and spectators head to Big League Dreams and guests head to the 500-room Great Wolf indoor water park resort.

It is common for traffic on weekends to back up 20 car lengths into the eastbound auxiliary lane between Union Road and Airport Way.

It typically triggers slowdowns in the two eastbound 120 Bypass travel lanes as they pass traffic at a standstill in the auxiliary lane or have to wait for someone to merge to the right.

And while the project is restricted to right turns in and right turns out, it still don't impress Barnhardt as being a wise move given the congestion already at the intersection.

Deputy City Engineer Greg Showerman is hopeful that the congestion will get better — even with the gas station, car wash, fast food place and convenience store going in on the corner.

His hope is tied to he McKinley Avenue and 120 Bypass interchange that is now under construction.

And while the owners of the corner property are pushing to get a permit as soon as possible to start building, it is likely the development won't be done much sooner than the interchange project that has a spring 2023 completion target.

The McKinley interchange is a mile west of the Airport Way interchange and essentially equal distance to Great Wolf that happens to be next door to Costco.

The new interchange will open up a second route for most people trying to reach the area that — when all is said and done — will likely take less time than Airport Way given it is all right turns as opposed to the left turn now needed that is just a short distance north of the freeway.

There wasn't money for an auxiliary lane between Airport Way and McKinley. That said, the partial cloverleaf design means both the eastbound and westbound off-ramps at McKinley will be slightlly longer than the ones at Airport Way.

McKinley also have a longer stretch of the ramps that will be two lanes.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email [email protected]