Traveling from the freeway to and from the new transit station at Sixth Street and Central Avenue could add a number of minutes to the Greyhound schedule, they feel.
It’s not the first time Grant Line has figured in transportation decisions in our area.
For many years, before interstate freeways became “the Tracy Triangle” in the 1970s, Grant Line Road was an alternate route for many travelers passing through our area.
What became known as “the Banta Cutoff” was used by motorists eager to avoid traffic jams — and traffic lights — on Highway 50 (11th Street) through Tracy. Traffic on Grant Line became especially heavy Friday and Sunday afternoons as Bay Area residents traveled to and from points east, especially the Sierra mountains.
In fact, there was a time nearly a century ago when Grant Line Road came close to becoming the main route of the Lincoln Highway, later Highway 50.
Gary Kinst, who, as an active member of the Lincoln Highway Association, has made a thorough study of highway travel through Tracy, has recorded this episode in his Lincoln Highway writings.
In the early years of the 20th century, the Tracy-area segment of the Lincoln Highway traveled westward from the Mossdale bridge to Banta and then, after passing through the main part of Banta, turned south on Banta Road to what is now 11th Street, which in those days was a dead end there.
From there, the highway made another 90-degree turn toward Tracy. That turn was the scene of a number of accidents, which worried the state highway commission.
In 1917, the state pressed the county, then in charge of local road-building, to straighten out the highway route east of Tracy to eliminate the two 90-degree turns on Banta Road. But efforts to secure a right-of-way through Steinmetz Estate property on a direct route from Mossdale toward Tracy were stalled on a question of price.
As talks dragged on without resolution, the state highway commission threatened to make Grant Line Road the main highway, leaving 11th Street in Tracy in the dust. That set off all kinds of alarms among Tracy business interests, who didn’t want the highway to pass “a mile north of town” on Grant Line.
A mass meeting of local business leaders was called. Those who attended urged the district attorney, then in charge of negotiations with the Steinmetz Estate, to vigorously pursue a settlement. To help things along, Tracy business owners agreed to raise close to $1,000 to help bridge the difference.
In the meantime, delegations from both Tracy and Banta went to Sacramento to lobby for their particular routes. Tracy’s efforts were headed by three local heavyweights: Abe Grunauer and William Schmidt, original members of the Board of Trustees (City Council), and George Good, chairman of the Board of Trade’s highway committee.
Finally, after several weeks, a settlement was reached between the county and Steinmetz Estate, and the route through Tracy approved by the state highway commission.
Tracy Press publisher Henry Hull declared: “This will be good news to the citizens of Tracy, who, while they regret to see Banta lose the highway, can rest assured that this city will remain upon the route.”
It took several months before work the direct route between Mossdale and Tracy was scheduled to begin, but the threat of Tracy being bypassed had ended.
It was the second time Banta had lost out to Tracy. In 1878, when the junction of the Altamont and Port Costa railroad lines was being determined, Henry Banta’s hopes of his village becoming the railroad junction evaporated with the selection of a site to the west of Banta. That site became a new town — Tracy.
• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by e-mail at email@example.com.