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Woodward crosswalk work nears

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POSTED March 29, 2014 1:02 a.m.

It’s been four years since parents with school-age children living north of Woodward Park in South Manteca started their push for a crosswalk across Woodward Avenue at Buena Vista Drive.

It was 34 months ago the Manteca City Council first approved proceeding with design plans for a sidewalk. And it was this past July following staff cutbacks due to the recession, a study to convert Woodward Avenue into two lanes with parking on both sides was rejected, and an additional $7,000 consultant study that concluded the crosswalk wasn’t justified under traffic safety standards that the council voted to proceed with an exact plan.

On Tuesday, the council is expected to approve awarding the project to Bear Electric Solution. At $58,950 they were the lowest responsible bidder among six submittals that went as high as $109,250.

The city has $150,000 budgeted for crosswalk improvements. The city estimated the Woodward crosswalk project would cost $30,000.

The project consists of a high visibility crosswalk with a flashing beacon. 

Parents in the neighborhood north of Woodward Park first started expressing concerns about the safety of their children back in the spring of 2010. That’s when the Manteca Unified School District was forced to drastically cutback on bus service due to the budget crisis. That took Paseo West neighborhood kids off buses and required them to walk to Woodward School.

Neighborhood resident Ivey-Hernandez contacted city officials in late 2010 and started circulating a petition to get a crosswalk across Woodward Avenue at Buena Vista Drive. Almost 90 people signed the petition.

In May of 2011 the council first agreed a crosswalk was needed and directed staff to pursue the matter.

After that the proposed crosswalk came back before the council on several occasions. Each time the staff said it needed more study or that they were backlogged with other pressing projects.

Finally, to move the project forward, the city hired a consultant to conduct traffic and speed surveys to determine if a crosswalk was justified on Woodward Avenue as well as Atherton Drive at Wellington Avenue.

The Loomis-based consultant determined that based on standards a crosswalk was not justified at the Woodward Avenue location or Atherton Drive.

At Woodward, the consultant noted during two-hour periods less than 40 pedestrians cross Woodward Avenue. Most of them were joggers or people who were physically fit who could beat oncoming traffic if necessary. Standards call for at least 40 pedestrians crossing a street within a two-hour period to warrant crosswalks.

The analytic information does not note whether any of those two-hour period involved times when kids were walking to and from Woodward School who had to cross Woodward Avenue. That’s a key point since the petition that included nearly 90 names originally circulated back in 2011 that prompted the council to give its tentative OK for a crosswalk was done so by parents concerned about their children’s safety going to and from school as well as generally accessing the park. 

The council chose to not follow the consultant’s conclusion and called for the crosswalk to be put in place anyway.

The City Council meets at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

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