Residents south of Woodward Park successfully got the Manteca City Council to agree to put a crosswalk in place at Woodward Avenue at Buena Vista Drive.
That was 13 months ago.
The crosswalk has yet to be put in place due to a number of reasons.
•The short-staffed Public Works Department has been forced to prioritize projects with ones involving more pressing maintenance and safety concerns as well as those with deadlines to spend grant money or lose it getting higher preference. Budget cuts also mean there is no dedicated staff member handling traffic safety issues.
•The opening of the missing segment of Atherton Drive between South Main and Wellington Avenue is expected to take pressure off Woodward and slow down traffic as well. That could impact significantly the type of crosswalk put in place at Woodward and Buena Vista.
•The city put the crosswalk project on ice to study possibly narrowing Woodward to two lanes and putting parking along the street.
Public Works Director Mark Houghton said after meeting with neighborhood residents the proposal to add parking and reduce Woodward to two lanes is now basically dead in the water. Meanwhile, the city is proceeding with plans to build a 90-space parking lot on the southeast corner of the park to take pressure off of neighborhood streets during major events. Houghton said that project should go out to bid in the next few months.
Houghton noted the city has three intersections they are working on to enhance pedestrian safety.
•Woodward at Buena Vista where parents circulated a petition for a crosswalk out of concern for the safety of children walking to and from school as well as for those accessing the park.
•Wellington Avenue at Atherton Drive. In a pro-active move, the city wants to make sure once Atherton Drive is open that there is a crossings as safe as possible across Atherton to Wellington for bike path travel.
•Cottage Avenue at Brookdale Way where high speed traffic in fairly significant number poses a safety challenge for children and others in a 99-home neighborhood in the Cottage, Louise, Highway 99 triangle crossing Cottage to reach Joshua Cowell School and other destinations.
Houghton said how traffic flow changes after the Atherton Drive link opens will provide a clearer picture of what needs to be done. It may mean more elaborate improvements on Atherton Drive at Wellington Avenue and less intense upgrades at Buena Vista and Woodward.
Back in April 2011 when the council approved the Woodward at Buena Vista crosswalk there was some discussion that it would be the first crosswalk in Manteca striped in what is known as the triple four patterns that consists of two lines of solid squares from curb-to-curb. Existing city crosswalks primarily consist of dual solid lines curb-to-curb or several with solid bar markings such as appear on a crossing midway between North Street and the Highway 99 overcrossing on Cottage Avenue.
Staff at the time also recommended that the crosswalk be a “high visibility” crosswalk. That means bulb outs on both sides extending from the corner to shorten the distance between the two sides of the street plus the creation of a pedestrian refuge island at the mid-point of the road. That essentially would create two separate crosswalks connected by the island. There would also be a flashing overhead beacon put in place and other signage making motorists aware of the crosswalk. The council also made it clear they wanted signs warning motorists of a crosswalk ahead.
Whether all of those elements are still needed will be determined after Atherton Drive is open and traffic flows are re-studied.
Neighborhood resident Ivey-Hernandez contacted city officials in late 2010 and started circulating a petition to get a crosswalk across Woodward Avenue at Buena Vista Drive. Almost 90 people signed the petition.
Parents first started expressing concerns about the safety of their children back in the spring of 2010 when the Manteca Unified School District was forced to drastically cut back on bus service due to the budget crisis. That took Paseo West neighborhood kids off buses and required them to walk to Woodward School.