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Roundabout for Powers Avenue?

Aim is to slow traffic for kids crossing street

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Roundabout for Powers Avenue?

Angelica Vasquez and her son Joel, 6, carefully watch the flow of traffic before trying to cross Powers Avenue at the corner of Hutchings Street on Friday.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED January 31, 2010 2:26 a.m.
Manteca’s first roundabout designed to address a pre-existing traffic problem may go in on South Powers Avenue at Hutchings Street in a bid to improve the safety of children walking to and from Lincoln School.

The Manteca City Council on Tuesday will consider a staff recommendation to install an interim roundabout at the intersection and to put in a crosswalk after city crews put the traffic calming device in place. Staff will also begin the design of a more permanent roundabout if the council so directs.

A roundabout creates a circular intersection in which traffic must travel in one direction. It involves placing a raised area in the middle of the intersection forcing all traffic to go to the right. The Powers and Hutchings roundabout location is a bit difference as it is a T-intersection.

Curran Grove neighborhood resident Angelica Vasquez supports the roundabout proposal. She noticed that in the summertime it is “very dangerous” to cross the street with all of the activity around Little League games and cars not slowing down.

The issue of safety was brought to the attention of Council Member Debby Moorhead by Powers Tract resident Fred Millner who was concerned about speeding traffic and kids crossing trying to safely cross Powers Avenue at Hutchings Street to reach Lincoln School or the adjacent Lincoln Park.

The park is also used extensively for Little League baseball, youth football and soccer practices as well as swimmers who access the municipal pool.

Millner believed a crosswalk was needed. Public Works Director Mark Houghton though was concerned that simply putting a crosswalk in place without slowing down traffic would give children and others who are walking a false sense of security and still would not address the speeding issue.

Initially the city narrowed the travel lanes by relocating the bike lanes. That, however, resulted in only a slight drop in speed.

“The problem with installation of a crosswalk on Powers at Hutchings Street is that vehicle speeds will continue to pose a problem due to the very wide street width,” Manteca senior civil engineer Mark McAvoy noted in a report to the council. “A marked crosswalk without some sort of other traffic-calming method is not advisable.”

The preliminary roundabout would be installed by city crews utilizing a combination of channelizing declinators, striping, and minor concrete modifications. Crosswalks would then be put in place. The cost will be about $5,000 and would come from money in the traffic calming account of the city’s Local Transportation Fund.

The cost of a permanent roundabout hasn’t been determined nor exactly how the cost would be covered. That project would have to go out to competitive bid.

About five years ago, Manteca was able to slow down traffic on the southern leg of Powers Avenue between Marin Street and Moffat Boulevard by placing islands at the intersections to narrow traffic lanes. That has been successful in slowing traffic and making it safer for people to cross the street. Those islands have decorative river rock instead of landscaping.

The speed limit on South Powers near Lincoln School is 25 mph but it isn’t uncommon for traffic to move at 40 mph.

Manteca has a roundabout in place in the neighborhood northeast of Woodward Avenue and South Main Street. It is an acre in size and has a mini-park in the middle. It was designed not to slow traffic down as much as it was to prevent through traffic from taking a short cut from Woodward to reach the future extension of Atherton Drive where future retail is planned.

Manteca is pondering the possibility of requiring roundabouts as part of future neighborhoods to avoid the need for expensive traffic lights that can run as high as $500,000. Roundabouts – when used in places where traffic is heavy but not overwhelming can also keep vehicle moving while increasing safety.

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

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