During the week of September 8, 2014, I sent a letter to the Stanislaus County Supervisors explaining my concern with the 132 West Freeway design. I indicated that citizens of the west side of Modesto want the hazardous material removed from the berms that sit within the right-of-way. They also want the freeway be a below grade facility. I stated that none of the supervisors would want to live next to such a project, so citizens should not be subject to it either.
In response to my concerns, Supervisor Terry Withrow promised to form a Joint Powers committee to examine the issues at the next Stanislaus Council of Governments (STANCOG) meeting. The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 17th.
Supervisor Withrow has promised that the final project will be safe. Unfortunately, a number of safety issues exist with the current project as envisioned.
Because there is not enough money to build a flyover for the connection from northbound freeway 99 to west bound 132, traffic may stack into travel lanes on the 99 freeway from the signalized intersection of 132/Franklin/Needham Avenue. The best alternative is to have northbound freeway 99 traffic continue to use the Maze Road alignment for west route 132 until the flyover can be built.
The same intersection has another safety issue. East bound traffic will be travelling at 65 mph. When vehicles reach the traffic signal, motorists will often need to come to a complete stop. The safe thing is reduce the speed limit somewhere west of freeway 99 in advance of the signal. Forty-five miles per hour would be a relatively safe speed limit. Doing this would make intersection safer as cars will slow soon enough to come to a safe stop. The lower speed limit would also enable the construction of a full safe interchange of freeway 132 at Carpenter Road.
On the west side of the project, intersections at 132/Kansas/Dakota Avenue and 132/Maze/Dakota Avenue will be signalized. I suggested traffic circles be built instead. Traffic accidents in traffic circles are 90 percent less than at signalized intersections. The traffic circles can be engineered to favor through traffic on route 132.
West side residents do not believe that the hazardous materials within the mounds in the 132 freeway right of way are safe and insist that the mounds be removed.
Update of Design Changes
Very few design changes have taken place since the original proposal. Supervisor Withrow told me about one change that was made: 132 freeway will be below grade from just east of Carpenter Road to Rosemore Avenue.
Caltrans is expected to provide a full update at the September 17th STANCOG meeting.