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Bypass Concerns Brought To Council
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Residents from Stearns Road showed up at the Monday, Oct. 1 Oakdale City Council meeting to voice their concerns about a proposed bypass that would cut through their property as part of the planned North County Corridor.

Stanislaus County Public Works Director Matt Machado gave a brief presentation of the history of the project which had the route adopted in May 2010 after the North County Corridor Transportation Expressway Authority secured $91 million to proceed with the venture.

The bypass had been narrowed to three proposed routes that would have affected Stearns Road, Wamble Road or Lancaster Road. However, according to Machado, the Lancaster Road is no longer under consideration. A final decision is at least three years away.

During the presentation, Machado admitted that in the course of the hearing process, residents of the Stearns area did not get notifications.

Since the faux pas has been an issue the last few months, Mayor Pat Paul asked if there was a legal obligation to have notified all the residents affected.

“We’re a fan of share it all, share it often, and get as much information we can,” said Machado.

At the end of the address, Councilwoman Kathy Morgan asked how the final decision would be made.

Machado told the group that factual information would be used regarding the impact to people, homes, the environment as well as cost factors and noise to the area. He said it was unknown how much each category would be weighed in importance.

“The goal is to find the route with the least impact and most benefit,” said Machado.

Councilman Tom Dunlop announced that he may have to recuse himself if there was any vote or council decision to be made due to the Stearns route affecting two of his facilities.

When asked for advice, city attorney Tom Hallinan stated Dunlop would be allowed to be present during the hearing and didn’t anticipate any council vote since the item was just a council presentation.

“This just being on the map is enough to turn people away and affect property values,” said Stearns resident Curt Porter who counted over 40 properties affected if the Stearns bypass went through. “It’s people out there, it’s our livelihoods.”

Katy Winders pointed to the map and said the off-ramp for the project went through her in-laws home.

Some inquired about the economic impact to the city if the proposed bypass, with the goal of alleviating traffic through downtown, is completed.

Jim Anderson predicted Oakdale “will be behind the eight ball” to showcase the city and be “slowly choked off.”

Virginia Camacho of the Oakdale Business Improvement District inquired how much impact the bypass would have on the downtown merchants. Camacho said the US 50 bypass “killed” the city of Placerville.

Machado said the former 120 bypass was scrapped because of the city’s concerns on tourism dollars, but that the North County Corridor was predicted to be used by local residents mostly.

Machado said the benefit of the bypass was to improve local access through the City of Oakdale as well as Riverbank, improve travel times, reduce congestion, and handle growth.

Morgan told the audience that the council has suggested that the Stearns route is the preferred route for the city’s general plan and for the ability to capture more dollars.

The county’s next meeting on the corridor is planned for Wednesday, Nov. 21, in the Board Chambers at 1010 10th Street (basement), Modesto.

During Monday’s council meeting, Interim City Manager Stan Feathers also gave an update of the city budget. Due to press time, that update will be featured in a later edition.