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Atherton: The next speedway?
Concern about pedestrian, bicyclist safety
Looking across Atherton Drive from the Paseo Apartments toward the Wellington Avenue bike path. - photo by HIME ROMERO

The completion of the missing link on Atherton Drive later this year could make it dicey for pedestrians and bicyclists crossing at Wellington Avenue.

Several residents whose children walk to Woodward School from the Paseo Apartment complex are concerned Atherton Drive could turn into a “speedway” once it is opened up from Main Street to Woodward Avenue. The apartments are the only residences on any of the segments of Atherton Drive.

They expect traffic to not only shift form Woodward Avenue to Atherton Drive since the newer four-lane arterial would then go from Union Road to Woodward Avenue near Moffat, but they also anticipate a large amount of cross-town traffic to travel to The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley by taking Van Ryn Road to connect with Industrial Park Drive and Spreckels Avenue.

The crossing in question connects the Wellington Avenue bike path with a bike path that runs along Atherton Drive. That same bike path is connected to the Tidewater and Spreckels via paths on Van Ryn and Industrial Park Drive. A number of people riding and walking from the Woodward Park neighborhoods to downtown, Manteca High, and Spreckels Park also cross the street at Wellington.

Currently there is no crosswalk across the five lanes on Atherton that includes a turn lane, mainly because there is little traffic due to the dead-end.

But that will change when the $2.1 million extension is completed. Residents are concerned that a slight curve on Atherton combined with high speed and a South San Joaquin Irrigation District above ground gate control box could create a recipe for tragedy.

Public Works Director Mark Houghton said staff will look at the situation and determine if some type of crosswalk should be put in place as a proactive measure.

The city has either cross walks or traffic signals every place else where a Class I separated bike path crosses city streets except along Wellington Avenue.

There is a crosswalk with activated flashing lights where the Wellington Avenue bike path crosses Woodard Avenue to reach Woodward Park.