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Plan for block: Decreased safety?

Critics: 100 block of North Main should be 4 lanes

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POSTED October 26, 2017 1:21 a.m.

Manteca’s plan to spend upwards of $1 million to remove landscaping bulb outs and reconfigure the 100 block of North Main Street isn’t getting rave reviews.
At last seven people — including City Councilman Richard Silverman — were less than thrilled that the alternatives for the project consisted of two versions of the same basic plan — two through southbound lanes and one through northbound lane — with the option of a concrete median or one that was simply painted on the pavement.
The design concepts were unveiled Wednesday during a community workshop at the Manteca Senior Center.
Wendy Benavides, who worked for more than five years in a real estate office on the block, noted the new plan could actually increase congestion and unsafe vehicle movements.
That’s because the solution consultants came up with ignored all of the traffic movement concerns addressed in 2004 when it came to placement of medians. The big issue involved numerous mid-block turn movements into parking lots and driveways that tied up traffic and triggered numerous fender benders.
The worst offending driveway accesses the Wells Fargo Bank parking lot. Before the landscaped median was put in place it was a common occurrence for cars trying to exit the parking lot wanting to head south to pull out and block northbound traffic while waiting for a break in the southbound flow on Main Street.
The turn left turn pocket on Main  Street to head west on Center Street in front of the bank can only accommodate four cars that now will back up northbound Main traffic from time-to-time when a fifth vehicle wants to turn left while the light is still green for northbound through traffic. The consultant, in order to address the problem of a short left turn lane pocket to allow up to seven cars to wait for a left turn, has replaced the median with a double yellow line.
 Benavides believes the right solution is to place a thin, four- to six-inch wide concrete median down the middle of the block, rework the traffic signals, and put two through lanes in each direction instead of two southbound and only one northbound.
To allow for safe turn movements, the signals would be set up to mimic what currently is in place at Spreckels Avenue and Moffat Boulevard. Only one direction of Spreckels Avenue traffic has a green light at a time allowing protected left and right turns as well as through movement reflecting what critics want to see on Main Street. The Moffat traffic has left turns at the same time and then through traffic goes in each direction exactly as what happens now with Yosemite Avenue and Center Street traffic when it intersects with the Main Street corridor.
“It’s a short term solution,” said Bill Barnhart of the two through southbound lanes and one through northbound lane solution that consultants envision is the answer to replace one through lane in each direction. “If Manteca is going to grow we need to plan for traffic.”
Barnhart’s observations resonated with Bill Goodwin.
“Make it four lanes now,” Goodwin said.
Numbers provided on two aerial views of the 100 block of North Main Street consultants provided verified what Goodwin said is needed can work.
At both ends of the block there are four 10-foot wide lanes — of which one is a left turn lane — and two 5-foot wide bike lanes. It is clear from the numbers two through lanes would work in each direction. And with the city getting ready to spend nearly $2 million in federal funds to upgrade its control system to better synch traffic signals, putting in place coordinated timing between the intersections on Main at Center and Yosemite to operate in the same manner as the Moffat/Spreckels traffic signals shouldn’t be much of an issue.
Goodwin’s solution would allow vehicles in the inside lanes to make a protected left turn lane or go straight.
By adding two lanes in each direction, the city would be doubling the capacity of the block that many times during peak period has traffic backed up from one intersection to the other in both directions.
Silverman seemed a bit frustrated after council members asked for a long range solution.
“It (North Main Street) should be approached as if you’re peeling an onion,” Silverman said, noting there are other layers regarding traffic that need to be addressed.
In June Silverman and fellow Councilman Gary Singh said that while they didn’t want to address the 200 to 500 blocks of North Main Street that are currently one through lane in each direction now, they favored a solution in the 100 block of North Main that would allow the city to completely four lane Main Street from Atherton Drive to Lathrop Road in the future without re-investing heavily in the 100 block of North Main Street.
Silverman noted the issue of two northbound lanes funneling down into one could be handled north of Center Street by eliminating parking for a section of the street.  Southbound Main currently funnels from two to one lane south of Alameda Street.
Silverman said the objective should be to move traffic in the most optimum manner on Main Street given it is the heaviest traveled north-south corridor in the city.

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