Los Banos

June 27, 2014

Supercenter construction will continue through summer

The Wal-Mart supercenter will add 73,000 square feet to the store, allowing an expanded grocery section and 85 additional employees.

Wal-Mart patrons will have to bare with bulldozers, fences and gated off parking areas for a few more months.

Spokeswoman Delia Garcia said construction to expand the big-box retail store into a supercenter will be completed near the end of summer. Garcia said Wal-Mart is aware customers have been inconvenienced during the lengthy construction process.

“We appreciate the patience our customers have shown through the year-long construction process. We look forward to debuting the expanded store and offering our customers a better shopping experience as well as the convenience of true one-stop shopping,” Garcia said.

Wal-Mart started construction of the expansion in September, but it has been a two-year saga to ensure the roads surrounding the store’s shopping center can handle the extra traffic the business will create.

The California Department of Transportation and the city have been involved with the project because of the added traffic the store and future surrounding shops are expected to draw.

In 2012, Caltrans expressed concerns that westbound motorists on Highway 152 will try to access the supercenter, and the three new shops expected to accompany it, by making left turns against traffic.

As a solution, Caltrans proposed an extended median starting on Highway 152 near Badger Flat Road and continuing to Stonecreek Boulevard. At the time, the city did not believe the median was necessary.

Wal-Mart’s first traffic plan was to extend Stonecreek Boulevard on the land north from Prairie Springs Road near the store. The land, which was owned by Stonecreek Properties, was in foreclosure. Wal-Mart could not obtain permission to build the street.

A revised arrangement was approved. It included a traffic signal at the intersection of Stonecreek Boulevard and Highway 152 and adding left turn lanes on Badger Flat Road.

Wal-Mart also agreed to contribute to funding for improvements at Pacheco Boulevard and West I Street and the Pacheco Boulevard and Mercey Springs Road intersection. Some of the construction currently being done at the latter intersection is connected to the Wal-Mart project, according to Fire Chief and Building Inspector Chet Guintini. Additional turning lanes are slated for Mercey Springs and Pacheco Boulevard.

Construction is taking place in Wal-Mart’s front parking lot. Garcia said the business is also demolishing some interior walls and fixtures as well as reconfiguring the sales floor to add square footage and make the aisles wider. The supercenter will add 73,000 square feet to the store, allowing an expanded grocery section. Garcia said McDonald’s will remain a store tenant.

Wal-Mart will hire 85 full- and part-time employees. Garcia said the hiring process will begin “soon.” She said applicants will be able to apply inside the store and online at www.careers.walmart.com. The average hourly full-time wage for Wal-Mart associates in California is $13.11 per hour, according to Garcia.

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