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Pedestrian count up next for Cottage & Brookdale crossing

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POSTED January 17, 2013 1:04 a.m.

Safety on Cottage Avenue between Louise Avenue and the Highway 99 overpass is a numbers thing.

It is 517 feet from Brookdale Way to Louise Avenue.

It is 287 feet from Brookdale Way to Button Avenue.

It is 1,200 feet from Brookdale Way to the top of the overpass.

Traffic is supposed to move at 35 mph which translates into 52 feet per second.

It takes 23 seconds for a vehicle - traveling the posted speed limit - to reach Brookdale Way after cresting the overpass.

All of that adds up to a big worry for Manteca Councilman Steve DeBrum who wants to make sure Manteca takes a pro-active approach to traffic safety instead of waiting until a tragedy happens.

DeBrum wants whatever it takes - a crosswalk, striping changes or a roundabout - to make crossing safer for kids going to and from school who have to cross Cottage Avenue at Brookdale.

But before the council gives any direction they’ve asking for one more number: How many children actually cross the street while making their way to and from Joshua Cowell School?

Public Works Director Mark Houghton isn’t sure but he believes when he last observed the intersection for several hours about five months ago that there were less than six youth who crossed the street returning from school.

Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion will find the exact answer. He plans to deploy Seniors Helping Area Residents and Police volunteers to the intersection for about a week to tally the number of youth crossing the street.

That information - along with potential solutions - will be brought back before the council in 90 days for possible action.

The crossing of Cottage became a problem after the school district eliminated bus service to the 99-home Kensington neighborhood in the triangle formed by Cottage, Louise and Highway 99 due to budget cutbacks. Staff ventured to say that most of the children are now driven to school by parents.

Houghton noted conducting a speed survey in a bid to lower traffic speeds could very easily backfire. State law now requires speed to be set exactly at what a speed survey shows. That means if the overwhelming majority of traffic is traveling at 45 mph instead of 35 mph, the city would have to reset the posted speed to 45 mph.

DeBrum argued the city needs to do something given the fact if the Kensington neighborhood were built today with current traffic conditions he doesn’t believe the city would have allowed the intersection of Brookdale Way to be constructed without a traffic light or a roundabout.

What has changed besides increased traffic from growth since the neighborhood was built was the opening of the missing link of Industrial Park Drive. That effectively turned Cottage Avenue into a major collector from Louise Avenue all the way to Union Road. Along the way the street name changes to Spreckels Avenue, Industrial Park Drive, and finally Mission Ridge Drive.

Councilwoman Debby Moorhead said it seemed like “déjà vu all over again” given she ran into the same roadblocks trying to get a three-way stop in place on Powers avenue at Hutchings Street.

High speed traffic on Powers Avenue wasn’t enough in that case for staff to initially concede there was a need for a controlled intersection at that location.

They recommended that students from the 166-home Curran Grove School that attend Lincoln School to walk to the traffic light at Powers and Yosemite and cross instead of doing so at Hutchings.

Staff has recommended the same thing for Brookdale, noting that walking to Louise Avenue and Cottage where there is a signal would be safer.

Councilman Vince Hernandez pointed out that simply being concerned with students crossing Powers Avenue ignored the fact hundreds of youth and adults use the Little League field along Powers Avenue every day during the warm months and often dart across the street.

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