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Waterford offers to pay for crosswalk enhancement on N. Main St.

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POSTED November 22, 2017 12:59 a.m.

Phil Waterford has seen a lot of changes on North Main Street in the 22 years he has owned Manteca Ford.
But none of them have bothered him as much as how frightening it has become for people to cross the street.
It is why in light of a pedestrian fatality last Friday night on North Main Street that Waterford is making the City of Manteca an offer — he will pay for the purchase of the in-ground pavement flasher system at the Edison Street crosswalk on North Main Street to enhance pedestrian safety if the city will accept the gift and install it. The system also includes flashing light around the sign marking the crosswalk that are activated by a pedestrian to catch the attention of motorists that they are about to enter the crosswalk
There have been five pedestrian deaths in recent years with two of them in the 600 block of North Main.
 “As Manteca has grown the traffic has gotten worse,” Waterford said. “Every day someone almost gets hit there (at the intersection). We have to do something to make the street safer for everyone including pedestrians.”
It isn’t the first time Waterford has stepped up when the streets of Manteca have gotten too mean. A few years back when a 6-year-old was struck and killed by a car while crossing the street on the way to school just a few blocks east of his dealership he agreed to supply worried parents with crossing guard signs and reflective vests so they could serve as volunteer street crossing guards at busy intersections on the way to Shasta School.
Whether the city works with Waterford who has been known to open his checkbook to help the community either deal with other tragedies or to underwrite activities is a good question. The city in the past has held firm to “warrants” to justify safety improvements such as stop signs or crosswalks. Warrants reference whether there is enough speeding, accidents or deaths to warrant doing anything.
They also like to figuratively — and literally — study things to death. Remember the flashing overhead crossing lights at Buena Vista Drive at Woodward Avenue that nearby parents signed petitions for and the council agreed to install and then the city spent seven years studying it to death by hiring consultants to determine if it was justified? That’s the same stretch of roadway where a motorist ending up taking the life of a grandfather as he was midway across the street pushing his grandson in a stroller while the consultants fiddled.
But then again maybe the city can’t take Waterford up on his offer because they can’t afford to maintain what they have. It was 10 years ago this month in-ground crosswalk flashers were placed on the crosswalk across Woodward at Wellington Avenue. It’s been 13 months this month they stopped working and it’s been five months this month since staff convinced the council they would be better off putting an overhead flasher in place instead at the same time they did another delayed promise to install overhead crosswalk flashers on Woodward at Pagola Avenue.
A number of years ago Manteca Police conducted a decoy operation at the Edison crosswalk at North Main.
They instructed volunteer decoys not to step off the curb unless they had ample time to cross. And instead of issuing citations based on the letter of the law — you can’t legally drive through a crosswalk that is occupied until the pedestrian reaches the sidewalk — they ticketed those who came within  a  lane’s width or so of the pedestrians.
During the 45 minutes the Bulletin observed the decoy operation, officers issued three citations and let pass a dozen other motorists that still broke the law but did not cut close in back of the pedestrians.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyatt@mantecabuletin.com

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