Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Hammett Road Interchange and the North County Corridor – Could there be a Connection?

By Emerson Drake

Decisions Facing Salida and  Modesto Citizens

We’re facing another one of those self full-filling prophesies.  We have the 2007 Salida Now proposition where the Board of Supervisors rushed,  in order to thwart the will of the people and voted for Salida Now.  By doing this, they were “casting in stone for 25 years”  for developers to build 4,000 homes and designating large amounts of land for mixed residential (homes and businesses and other land use designations)  before the public could vote to could stop the project.

Now they’re saying because of the Salida Now, we need to push forward and embrace the Hammett Road interchange.  But the result of building the exchange, in the eyes of many, will be to set aside the idea of using Kiernan as the Highway 99 connecting leg and allow the developers, who are always looking 20 years ahead, to pave over even more prime farm land between Kiernan and Stanislaus River and McHenry Avenue, thereby creating even more opportunity for them to plant driveways, not crops and to build homes and rake in high short-term profits, while abandoning Stanislaus County residents  to yet more massive subdivisions as soon as the economy turns around.

Do We Have Options?

At last Tuesday night’s town meeting the public had the opportunity to hear the County/Cal Trans proposals regarding the interchange.  Questions arose from the public that it would take an attorney well versed in County law to answer.  Unfortunately none were present. Here are some of the questions the public asked that night.

1. Is it possible for Salida to have a referendum and vote to refute the County Boards’ Salida Now land use vote from 2007?

2. Are Salida citizens guaranteed by law a vote in any annexation attempt by Modesto?

3. How much is left in the account the County says developers contributed to in order to push the Hammett Road Interchange?

4. Exactly how many years are remaining from the Salida Now vote regarding land use designations?

5. Exactly how many years will remain on Salida Now land use rules if Modesto annexes them?

6. Will Modesto citizens get to vote on annexing Salida?

7. For the sake of openness, exactly which companies and their owners,  were the land use guarantees made to?

These questions will be asked of the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors at the August 7th 2012 meeting.

A Salida Resident Read the Following Suggestions at the Meeting Tuesday Night

7-31-2012:  Notes on the road service for Salida area projects:

No more prime corners used for storm drain ponds with fences for spray paint taggers!  Salida already has one at Sisk and Highway 219.

Feeder roads and traffic light intersections must be set back 3000 feet from the freeway, the current mess of Sisk Road next to the freeway slowing traffic on the freeway down to a stop is very poor planning.  What we have now is Service Level F for traffic flow.

Freeway exits and entrances should be full clover leaf designs, you should not have to slow down or stop to cross over the oncoming lanes of traffic to get on or off the freeway.

Any uses of electricity should be offset by solar panels that feed the grid during the day, banking the power that will be needed at night, for traffic control lights, street lights, storm water pumps and landscaping needs.  The real costs of the projects should not be ‘externalized’ or passed on to the public tax rolls at large, but paid for by the project developers and home construction companies, etc….in the Salida road projects many of the costs should be passed onto the developers of the Riverbank Crossroads project, it seems all of Riverbank uses Salida as it’s on/off ramp to Highway 99, in fact due to the Stanislaus River, Salida acts as the bridge off what is basically an island in northwest Stanislaus County.

Currently we have an unsafe pedestrian environment for children to walk or bike to the new Salida High School.  Sidewalks, bike lanes and CROSS WALKS or pedestrian bridges must be built to keep our children safe and plan for a walkable community.

Developments such as Costco’s store, a half mile off the street with no safe walkway to the building and a car entrance too darn close to the freeway that impacts freeway traffic, are not to be repeated!

Long term Salida goals require a retail sales tax base.  Careful zoning and roadway planning are required to realize this outcome.  The first step would be to bring a local bank back to the Salida area!

The environmental impact from heavy traffic due to cars and trucks will be a major problem for the Salida area.  PM1 and PM10, soot, ozone, smog, road noise, car stereo abuse, oversized exhaust systems and polluted storm drain run off, litter and 1000 wads of discarded chewing gum on the street all degrade our lives in so many ways and impact children even more so.

Sound walls, raised earth berms, quiet road surfaces and properly sized (narrowly painted) lanes can help to regulate speed and in a small way offset the projects very negative impact on Salida.

All of this area is prime farm land served by an excellent 100 year old canal water system.  All efforts should be made to complete the Kiernan Avenue/Claribel Highway system to the City of Oakdale before any new farm land is consumed for developer profit!

Brad Johnson

10 years as a Salida Town Council Member and Local Public Radio Station Operator, 104.9FM.


Everyone should attend these meeting because you have a chance to have your voice heard.  Will it make a difference?  Only time will tell.  Hopefully the County Board will allow the County Attorney to answer these and other questions which  might arise.

The Following is the Handout from  the Salida/Hammett Road Interchange Meeting from July 31,2012



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