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Put downtown on equal traffic footing with the rest of Manteca

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POSTED January 29, 2013 8:27 p.m.

Downtown, who needs it?

That’s the attitude needed to resolve everyone’s favorite area to complain about traffic.

Rip out the bulbs along North Main Street. Trees and shrubs serve no useful purpose when it comes to moving traffic.

Eliminate parking from Yosemite to Alameda.

Jam in two lanes in each direction.

That should move traffic somewhat better, and reduce the time for people to travel between Walmart and Kmart.

Oh! I almost forgot, tear out the landscape divider between Yosemite and Center. Let people turn left in and out of the alley as they wish. Besides, it will allow more vehicles to make left turns off of Main onto Center and Yosemite.

Yosemite Avenue needs the same treatment and then some.

Take out the bulbs. Then get rid of the original sin -- the extra three feet or so of sidewalk the city put in place back in the 1970s along with trees.

Next, eliminate parking from Walnut Avenue to Powers Avenue. That’ll give everyone two travel lanes in each direction between Target and the Manteca Marketplace.

Of course, there still won’t be enough vehicle movement through the Yosemite-Main intersection. That is why it is only fair to downtown folks that the city provide what they do in newer developments: the ability to make unrestricted right turns. It works well at the city’s heaviest-traveled intersection at Louise Avenue and North Main. You never see major traffic back-ups there.

The city needs to stop being a wimp about eminent domain and take out a chunk of each side of the Yosemite-Main intersection. It may require taking out a business or two but we’ve got to get those cars moving. No one wants a “parking lot” on Main Street or Yosemite Avenue.

Do the same thing at Main and Center. It has the added bonus of taking out Wells Fargo, which creates its own set of unique traffic problems with people trying to exit and enter the parking lot.

That leaves the Maple Avenue problem. This is a little trickier. The real issue on Maple with traffic isn’t folks going to the downtown businesses but those accessing the post office. This solution will require patience. Given how the Postal Service is shrinking and more and more younger consumers are getting postal stamps and other supplies at places such as Costco and contract locations, it’s just a matter of time.

The city also needs to make sure nothing ever intentionally impedes traffic flow downtown.

Since they have a 35-year parking lease with The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley, which has plenty of parking and a pseudo-downtown feeling, they should ban all street fairs downtown and move them out there.

The Crossroads Street Fair and Pumpkin Fair could take place without detours on side streets, parking issues, or blocking storefronts.

The Christmas parade could go from JC Penney to Bass Pro Shops. There’d even be stores open afterwards if people wanted to do some Christmas shopping.

For those who don’t like the summer farmers market patrons taking up parking spaces, it could also be moved to Orchard Valley or to the new transit station on Moffat.

Since there are those that don’t consider anything outside of a six-block area part of downtown, any traffic activity on Moffat from the farmers market won’t impact downtown commerce at 4:30 p.m. on a Tuesday.

If the city really cares about downtown, they would retroactively apply the same traffic and parking standards they do in new areas to downtown. That means restoring off-street parking requirements whenever a new use replaces an existing use. It may require some adjustment such as the private sector demolishing buildings in order to meet new standards but equal treatment has a price.

Implement such a plan and complaints about downtown traffic and parking will eventually go away.

Unfortunately, so will downtown, but at least the apparent No. 1 objective of getting traffic through the area as quickly as possible will have been met.

 

This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209-249-3519.

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