Motorists in this area who normally make the 8-mile drive from Galt to Thornton on New Hope Road have been forced to take a longer, circuitous route because the road has been flooded since April 4, when a privately owned levee broke.
Recent storms and more flooding have kept the road closed, making area residents head north to Twin Cities Road, west on Twin Cities and south on Interstate 5 to get to Thornton. The other option is to head south to Peltier Road, then north on either I-5 or Thornton Road.
With Galt High School on spring break this week, bus drivers have been spared from taking the roundabout circuitous route to Thornton.
The road could reopen as early as Sunday if it doesn't rain over the weekend, said Dan Regan, a Sacramento County spokesman.
Emergency crews in San Joaquin and Sacramento counties are looking forward to dry weather beginning Monday. Rain is predicted today through Sunday. The San Joaquin River south of Tracy and Manteca remains dangerously full and could flood adjacent rural land, according to the San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services.
Because it was a private levee that flooded New Hope Road, it is the adjoining property owner's responsibility to repair the levee, even though it flooded a public road, according to Earl Cummings, a spokesman for the California Department of Water Resources.
County officials are waiting for waters to subside on New Hope Road, Regan said. Meanwhile, longtime Thornton residents say they're used to road closures, including the flooding of New Hope Road.
"It's happened to us all our lives," said Jon Dixon, a lifelong Thornton resident. "There's one itty bitty (water) pump on the west side of Grizzly Slough and one itty bitty pump on the other side."
Motorists have to cross two waterways driving from Thornton to Galt. The first one is the Mokelumne River, which is also the county line, and the second is Grizzly Slough.
Terry Smith, a three-year Thornton resident, said Galt is the nearest area to shop, but with New Hope Road close, he might as well go to Lodi.
Meanwhile, the countryside on Twin Cities Road between Christensen Road and I-5 is still flooded. With sunny skies on Thursday, the water along Twin Cities road resembled pristine blue lakes instead of the brown water that existed there over the past week.
In San Joaquin County, OES officials were delighted at the clear skies on Thursday, spokeswoman Elena Reyes said. The weather kept the San Joaquin River south of Tracy and Manteca from becoming a greater flood danger.
The National Weather Service issued a flood warning through this afternoon along the San Joaquin River near Vernalis, south of Tracy and east of Interstate 5.
"We're concerned," Reyes said.
But she's still looking at the bright side.
"We're going to have wonderful weather next week, so the water level is supposed to go down a little bit," Reyes said. "We don't know what the impact of the snowmelt will be."
The San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department requests people not drive or park their vehicles on levees in southern San Joaquin County. Workers will continue to work on the levees throughout the weekend.
Most of the levees are privately owned and "no trespassing" signs have been posted.
The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), which operates Camanche Dam east of Clements, will release 5,000 cubic feet per second into the Mokelumne River until at least the end of April, said district spokesman Charles Hardy. The decreasing water levels of the district's reservoirs are intended to provide room for snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada and prevent flooding in the Lodi area, Hardy said.
With EBMUD releasing water at 5,000 cfs, Camanche Reservoir has decreased from 91.8 percent full to 91.4 percent, or 381,451 acre-feet of water. The National Weather Service predicts a 50 percent chance of rain today, 40 percent on Saturday and 50 percent again on Sunday. But the Lodi area should experience clear or party cloudy skies from Monday through Thursday with temperatures ranging from 66 to 70 degrees.
First published: Friday, April 14, 2006