The city of Merced and UC Merced have come to an agreement on infrastructure issues that have draped some of the school’s growth in uncertainty for several years.
The City Council this week approved the plan, which allows university representatives to try to get approval from the University of California Board of Regents on the 2020 Project. That project would double the school’s square footage and increase enrollment to 10,000. The agreement covers transportation, water and sewer infrastructure.
City and university officials noted that the agreement was important for the relationship of the two entities.
“I think it’s a really significant moment in that relationship, and we are very pleased,” said Michael Reese, vice chancellor for business and administrative services at UC Merced.
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The university agreed to pay for a portion of the cost for widening of Bellevue and Lake roads, both two-lane streets that lead to the campus. It would also pick up the tab for certain intersections along those roads.
I think it’s a really significant moment in that relationship, and we are very pleased.
Michael Reese, UC Merced vice chancellor for business and administrative services
The studies for changes to the roadways would be triggered when the roads averaged 9,000 daily trips from vehicles, according to the agreement. Reese said the university is estimating the number of trips to hit the magic number in 12 to 18 months.
The city agreed to supply water and sewage service to the university, which has a city well within its campus footprint. The document also covers bus stops and the routes to be used by construction-related trucks. “It became a fairly comprehensive agreement,” Reese said.
The university would also contribute more than $3 million to the next phase of Campus Parkway, the four-lane expressway in the works for more than a decade and a half and billed as vital to UC Merced’s success. The parkway would eventually connect the university to Highway 99 and could create access to a mostly open area, where retail and industrial space is available.
John Bramble, Merced’s city manager, said the city also looked forward to coming to an agreement as the growth of UC Merced is so tightly knit with the city’s economic improvements. He said negotiations ramped up in the past nine months.
I think that everybody now can move forward.
Merced City Manager John Bramble
“(The agreement) gives them some guarantees and gives us some guarantees,” he said. “I think that everybody now can move forward.”
The money the university put up for the parkway will go into a pot of other dollars aimed to match a federal transportation grant the city and county have looked to get during the past few years.
The city also made two agreements in August with the developers of Merced Gateway and a consulting firm, which plan to start to put up buildings on nearly 80 acres along Campus Parkway.
The plans show space for more than 20 retail stores, restaurants and fast-food eateries, as well as a fire station. There are also parcels for housing.