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Less left turns along Louise?

Manteca may block cross traffic turns at 5 intersections

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Less left turns along Louise?

A median beautification project could eliminate left turns at Agate and Louise as well as several other intersections.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED August 2, 2013 2:13 a.m.

Left turns at as many as five T-intersections along Louise Avenue between Union Road and Main Street could become a thing of the past.

That’s a proposal municipal staff is asking the Manteca City Council to consider as part of the $1 million federally-funded Louise Avenue Median Beautification Project. The council will review the request during Tuesday’s council meeting at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St. It is taking place three hours earlier than usual at 4 p.m. to allow staff and elected official to participate in National Night Out parties.

There are two options for eliminating left turn movements.

One includes Agate and Lexington avenues. The other includes those two intersections plus those at Carmel, Loren and Poplar avenues. There would be several private and commercial driveways impacted as well.

The project is being undertaken to soften the looks of the Louise Avenue corridor on the two-mile stretch between Airport Way and Main Street that some have dubbed “Manteca Canyons.” The moniker is in reference to sound walls abutting against sidewalks on either side of a five-lane expanse of asphalt with minimal landscaping.

Public Works Director Mark Houghton, in a report to the council noted preserving left-turn access to all intersections would significantly reduce the opportunities for raised medians that will be planted with trees to provide shade and victual relief. The undertaking is part of a city commitment to upgrade the looks of established areas of Manteca to keep them on par as much as possible with new growth areas.

The project is designed to:

• Make the Louise Avenue corridor more visually appealing.

• Provide funding for seal slurry and stripping to create bike lanes.

• Slow down traffic that often exceeds the speed limit.

• Make enhancements without spending any city funds.

• Construct improvements that would be a wash between the cost of maintaining the center median pavement and long-term landscaping care.

Louise Avenue and Union Road were dubbed “Manteca Canyons” by angry residents near Sierra High in the late 1990s who were trying to stop the city from repeating the major road design along Fishback Road.

Besides not being appealing visually, the mass of concrete, asphalt and sound wall masonry blocks generates tremendous heat during the summer making walking down either corridor unpleasant.

Houghton has previously noted numerous studies show that medians and trees tend to slow down traffic. Lanes will also be narrowed somewhat to accommodate bicycle lanes.

The city expects the lanes to increase bicycle traffic. It will also provide a tie into the Tidewater Bikeway that crosses Louise Avenue.

The city was approached by the San Joaquin Council of Governments about federal money that was available only for transportation enhancement but had to be spent in a short time frame.

City staff had already identified improving Louise Avenue with the median but didn’t expect money to be available for years to come.

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