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Get ready for shady Louise

Manteca secures $1M to ‘enhance’ corridor

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Get ready for shady Louise

Louise Avenue will have a tree-lined median now that Manteca has been awarded $1 million in transportation enhancement funds.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED April 27, 2013 2:36 a.m.

Louise Avenue between Main Street and the railroad tracks west of Union Road is about to get a $1 million Botox treatment courtesy of Uncle Sam.

When the seven-figure project is completed and well established city leaders expect to have a shady street with slower traffic speeds as well as bicyclists sharing the road.

The ugly duckling of a corridor is now an expanse of five lanes of aging pavement between sidewalks and first generation sound walls showing their wear. There are trees spaced in wells in the sidewalk that provide some relief to the stark visual that greets drivers and provides a tiny bit of relief for pedestrians in the stifling Manteca summer heat.

The stretch of Louise Avenue personifies what Sierra High neighborhood residents back in 1998 - mortified that the city was going to do the same thing to Fishback Road - dubbed as a “Manteca Canyon”.

The city was notified Friday that their application for $1 million in transportation enchantment funds - essentially landscaping and general beautification - had been approved by state authorities responsible for doling out the restricted federal money.

The funding will pay to rip out the center lane on Louise Avenue between Main Street and Airport Way and replace it with a tree-lined median. That covers a distance of two miles.

The project will also include bike lanes, a slurry overlay for the pavement, and the creation of turn pockets at intersections.

The project will accomplish a number of things:

• Make the Louise Avenue corridor more visually appealing.

• Provide funding for seal slurry.

• Stripping to create bike lanes.

• Help slow down traffic that often exceeds the speed limit.

• Would create a wash between the cost of maintaining the center median pavement and long-term landscaping care.

• Make enhancements without spending any city funds.

Public Works Director Mark Houghton has noted numerous studies show that medians and trees tend to slow down traffic. Lanes will also be narrowed somewhat to accommodate the bicycle lanes to further help slow traffic.

“It goes along with the city’s commitment to improve older areas of Manteca whenever it is possible,” noted City Manager Karen McLaughlin of the $1 million project

Making it more beautiful in the City Council’s eyes is they are able to make the improvements without having to come up with funding save the $100,000 they spent on a consultant who devised the necessary working plans needed to secure the money prior to May 16, 2013. If there were no projects ready to go by then, the state would have had to turn funds back to the federal government. The state nor the city has no control over how the federal government disperses transportation funds. That means it can only be spent on transportation enhancement projects and nothing else.

Work will start in the coming months.

It will bring the total Manteca has now secured from federal sources over the past five years to beautify roadways to $4.7 million.

Manteca previously secured $3.7 million from the same source to plant 7,100 trees, 3,900 shrubs and 500,000 square feet of hydro seed for grass to landscape the 120 Bypass and Highway 99 corridors. To put that in perspective, there are 7,600 city-maintained street trees in all of Manteca plus 8,801 trees in the city’s 54 parks that includes the golf course and along the Tidewater Bikeway system.

McLaughlin said Caltrans is responsible for maintaining all of the landscaping along the freeways except that at the Yosemite Avenue and Highway 99 interchange which is the city’s responsibility.

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