State

Road money up for a vote

Stanislaus County leaders tonight will consider endorsing the transfer of $91 million from a discarded idea for an Oakdale bypass to the newer concept of an expressway skirting Modesto, Riverbank and Oakdale.

Although the proposed North County Corridor is unpopular with some residents along the route, opposition to the actual money switch has not surfaced.

State Sen. Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto, is sponsoring legislation to reroute the $91 million of state road money formerly reserved for an Oakdale bypass. It would instead go to the east leg of a multi-lane expressway linking Highway 99 at Salida to Highway 108-120 six miles east of Oakdale.

Senate Bill 532 "will allow the county and its partners (Modesto, Riverbank and Oakdale) to move forward on the critical bypass project, which will alleviate traffic problems," county Supervisor Bill O'Brien wrote in a letter to Cogdill.

Several dozen property owners who might be in the way say the 26-mile freeway could degrade homes, farms and country living north of Modesto. While awaiting designation of a preferred route in coming months, many have urged officials to avoid their properties by simply upgrading Kiernan Avenue and Claribel Road.

Opposing SB 532, however, might not serve their purposes.

"I don't want to do anything that keeps our local area from getting the $91 million. I'm all for our area getting money to improve transportation and traffic flow through our area," said farmer Gary Darpinian. He and others "just want to make sure it's for the right project."

Officials discussed a northern Oakdale bypass for five decades before dropping the idea a couple of years ago in favor of the North County Corridor.

City councils are expected to review the money transfer on Aug. 3 in Oakdale, Aug. 4 in Modesto and Aug. 10 in Riverbank.

Today's meeting of the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the basement chamber of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St., Modesto. The agenda can be accessed at www.stancounty.com/bos/agenda/currentagenda.pdf

Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at gstapley@modbee.com or 578-2390.

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