State

Jardine: Riverbank should own up to bad planning

From the e-mails, voice mails and headlines:

JUST THE SPIN, SIR -- A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the intersection improvement project at Highway 108-McHenry Avenue and Ladd Road.

By shutting down the intersection and rerouting traffic through Riverbank, the contractor could finish the job in a month or so. But Riverbank nixed the plan because it would have rerouted thousands of additional cars per day through through the city.

Instead, it will take about six months to complete the work, with motorists subjected to long delays.

I also dinged the city for allowing the Crossroads shopping center at Oakdale and Claribel roads to be built so close to Claribel, which will cause problems for the planned expressway. And I criticized the city for failing to address the traffic at Roselle and Claribel, where backups can be 40 cars deep.

City Manager Rich Holmer took exception to my comments. In his response, which appeared in our Opinions page May 18, he told me to get my facts straight.

A rebuttal to your rebuttal, Rich:

Contrary to your assertion, the county did the proper environmental assessment that takes into account construction delays and traffic impacts. You agreed at first to the fast-tracked construction, then changed your mind.

You also suggested the rich folks in Del Rio got preferential treatment because the county wouldn't reroute traffic through the country club area. It's not quite so bourgeois as that. Riverbank has a state highway running through it. Del Rio has a two-lane street running through a residential area. While McHenry would have been closed at River Road, it would have been a soft closing. That means people from the Del Rio area could have used McHenry to get to and from home, but it would have been closed to traffic into Modesto.

Just a heads-up: Motorists from Escalon and other points north will go through your city anyway when they begin encountering long delays. Wave to them as they pass through.

You claimed that when Target opened in 2005, there was no North County Corridor plan.

Really? According to Caltrans, they ditched the north-of-Oakdale route in 2002 for a route south of Oakdale and Riverbank. Surely you're on their mailing list since Highway 108 goes right through your city. Your fair city also has a seat on the Stanislaus Council of Governments, meaning you've been privy to such discussions for years.

No one argues or begrudges the benefits of the shopping center to Riverbank. It brings in gobs of much-needed sales tax revenue. Just admit that developers dictated the terms of the shopping center at Oakdale and Claribel roads, and they built it too close to Claribel. That is why the east-west bypass will have to go 1,000 feet to the south, ultimately at a greater cost to the taxpayers.

The intersection of Roselle and Claribel finally will get a traffic signal -- several years after the shopping center opened. Do you always do your planning in the aftermath?

Only in recent weeks did Riverbank finally agree to contribute money to the traffic signal project. The last time my family shopped at Crossroads on a Sunday, there was a 15-vehicle backup heading east on Claribel at Roselle about 3 p.m. That backup wasn't, as you would have us believe, caused by commuters or students.

WEIRD WEATHER -- After a rain-soaked Amgen Tour of California in 2009, organizers decided to move the bicycle race from February to May.

This year's weather suggests that they moved February to May.

In February 2009, a heavy rain stopped just as the riders rolled into Modesto. Last week, a light rain stopped just as the riders rolled into Modesto.

Saturday night, Community Hospice had its annual fund-raiser outdoors at the home of Jim and Sue Coleman. Last year, the event began at a comfortable 81 degrees. Last weekend, though, it started in a windy and chilly 65 degrees and got colder as the night went on. The warmth came from the generosity of those who contributed, though the organization hasn't finished counting the cash.

And the Center for Human Services has moved its annual fund-raising event, scheduled for Thursday night, indoors to St. Joseph's Catholic Church, because the National Weather Service predicts rain and a low of 47.

It's almost June.

The good news? No fog in the forecast.

PALIN PAYDAY -- It doesn't seem so out of whack for the California State University, Stanislaus Foundation to pay former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin a reported $75,000 speaking fee plus $18,000 for expenses.

Consider that Modesto was prepared to pay Carrot Top $100,000 to perform at its Y2K party at the Centre Plaza, a fee that would have been worth $126,602.21 in 2010 dollars, according to the online U.S. Inflation Calculator.

By that same calculation, the $93,000 committed to Palin would have been worth $73,458 in 2000.

By the way, the Carrot Top deal fell apart when he would commit to only one 90-minute show. The organizers, apparently having never seen his act, wanted three 45-minute gigs. The entire giant party idea fizzled because of costs and a lack of interest.

Perhaps too many folks wanted to stay home to watch their computers fail to fail.

Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at jjardine@modbee.com or 578-2383

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