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17 months later & no crosswalk

City staff says Woodward crossing is still a priority

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17 months later & no crosswalk

Children cross Woodward Avenue at Buena Vista Drive.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED September 3, 2012 12:10 a.m.

Speeding cars on a roadway wide enough to accommodate five travel lanes that children must cross going back and forth to school or to use a nearby park is a major concern with parents residing south of Woodward Avenue.

They circulated petitions, made their case, and got the Manteca City Council to agree a crosswalk was justified at Woodward Avenue and Buena Vista Drive.

That was 17 months ago.

Budget cuts that eliminated Public Works staff assigned to traffic safety issues forced the crosswalk on Woodward Avenue plus other safety-related projects such as widening Louise avenue east of Cottage Avenue to make it safer for pedestrians and helping make the crossing of Cottage Avenue at Brookdale Way fall to the wayside.

The city is now gearing up to address traffic safety needs by shifting existing staff around now that work demand has changed regarding other public works projects. The crosswalks though aren’t the top priority. That belongs to the Louise Avenue widening since if it doesn’t start prior to June 30, 2013 the city will have to give close to $1 million back to the state.

“It (the Woodward Avenue crossing) is a priority,” noted Public Works Director Mark Houghton.

Houghton didn’t indicate in what order the other projects would be tackled. Also on the waiting list is extending sidewalk to the new Social Security office on Commerce Court. But he did say that the city is now in a position to start addressing the long-standing concerns.

The opening of the missing segment of Atherton Drive between South Main and Wellington Avenue by November is expected to take pressure off Woodward and slow down traffic as well. That could impact significantly the type of crosswalk put in place at Woodward and Buena Vista.

Back in April 2011 when the council approved the Woodward at Buena Vista crosswalk there was some discussion that it would be the first crosswalk in Manteca stripped in what is known as the triple four patterns that consists of two lines of solid squares from curb-to-curb. Existing city crosswalks primarily consist of dual solid lines curb-to-curb or several with solid bar markings such as appear on a crossing midway between North Street and the Highway 99 overcrossing on Cottage Avenue.

Staff at the time also recommended that the  crosswalk be a “high visibility” crosswalk. That means bulb outs on both sides extending from the corner to shorten the distance between the two sides of the street plus the creation of a pedestrian refuge island at the mid-point of the road. That essentially would create two separate crosswalks connected by the island. There would also be a flashing overhead beacon put in place and other signage making motorists aware of the crosswalk. The council also made it clear they wanted signs warning motorists of a crosswalk ahead.

Whether all of those elements are still needed will be determined after Atherton Drive is open and traffic flows are re-studied.

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

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