Former Manteca Mayor Willie Weatherford — who came up on a losing end of an effort in 2005 to put four lanes of traffic on North Main Street to Alameda Street — believes city staff has now actually come up with a way to make navigating through downtown even worse.
Weatherford is referring to the 100 block of North Main Street where city staff has come up with a plan to send three lanes of through traffic down the block to replace the current two lanes once the much maligned landscaping bulb outs are removed. Staff has budgeted $1 million for the work.
“They either need to keep it as it is, do something innovative, or take it to four lanes,” Weatherford said.
Back in 2005, the third of four consultants the city has hired since 1991 to look at the 100 block of North Main presented the council with two options — shifting to the present configuration to slow down Main Street traffic so motorists “could look in store windows” or put in place four lanes from Yosemite to Alameda by eliminating parking.
The 100 block at the time was configured with two southbound lanes and one northbound lane. The city irked motorists when they put that plan in place as they banned left turn lanes from southbound Main onto eastbound Yosemite.
Consultants in 2005
said 4 lanes would work
The consultant at the time noted four travel lanes — two in each direction — and protected left turns through the downtown on Main Street would work by simply putting in traffic light sequences such as are now in place for Spreckels Avenue traffic at the intersection with Moffat on Main Street where it crosses Yosemite Avenue and Center Street. They pointed out it would maximize traffic flow and minimize congestion.
Such a plan addressed major issues with turn movements across traffic in and out of driveways in the 100 block of North Main that were resulting in fender benders on a regular basis as well as traffic being blocked. Such was the case at the notorious Main Street driveway to Wells Fargo where frustrated bank customers trying to turn left onto Main would pull across the northbound lane during a break in traffic and then wait for a break in southbound traffic. Meanwhile vehicles would start backing up northbound as the bank customers were now blocking their travel lane. The consultant proposed a six-inch wide median down the middle to prevent such turns.
“You’ve got to decide what your objective is first,” Weatherford said. “Is it to move traffic or to slow it down?
Back in 2005 when Jack Snyder was on the council, he got SHARP volunteers to check with merchants in the 100, 200, 300, and 400 blocks of North Main about the impacts of losing on-street parking. They found the actual use was at a minimum because of difficulty pulling in and out of Main Street traffic. Those that parked on the streets tended to be owners and workers. Customers either used parking in the back of the buildings or off street parking. Even today the off-street parking that is available — there are four public use lots available that aren’t tied to a particular business — are rarely used to the point they are even near full during the day unlike the Wells Fargo Bank lot.
Snyder was the other councilman that voted against the bulb outs and was in favor of making the 100 block of North Main four lanes.
The consultants now being paid to monkey with the 100 block of North Main have come up with a plan that accommodates four lanes as well as two five-foot bike lanes at both ends of the block. Their plan, though, relies on keeping the current signal movements. By doing so one lane at each end of the block remains as a left lane instead of a through lane that can turn left when northbound or southbound traffic has the green light and the other direction has the red light.
The lanes would widen by mid-block and then narrow again as they approach the next intersection to accommodate a median that would be either painted on the pavement or be concrete.
Weatherford said the city might want to look at another solution if they don’t have the stomach to go four lanes now.
out one-way streets option
He noted the heaviest congestion on Main Street in the central district is between North Street and Yosemite Avenue.
Weatherford, who served as mayor for 12 years, said an option could be making North Main one way northbound from Yosemite to North and then two ways with four lanes from North to where it is now four lanes at Alameda.
Southbound traffic would turn right on North Street that would be one way to Maple where it would turn left to head south again to Maple. It would turn east or left on Yosemite and then back south on Main.
Such an approach would require parallel parking on the 100 and 200 blocks of North Maple to allow two lanes of traffic.
Yosemite Avenue would be one-way eastbound and Center Street one-way westbound. When that idea was considered in the past on at least three different occasions, the one ways stretched from Union Road in the west to Fremont Avenue in the east. It is based on what Caltrans proposed years before the 120 Bypass was built when Highway 120 traffic went down Yosemite Avenue creating mile long backups on Fridays heading to the Sierra and in Sundays returning to the Bay Area.
Such a plan would require either a signal or some other control at Yosemite and Maple and possibly Center and Maple as well as turn barriers for east-west traffic on North Main before the east 100 block is reached.