It’s a daily sight on school days — Manteca High students crossing Yosemite Avenue after the dismal bell often without looking.
Typically they have ear buds on, are talking on cell phones or are engaged in conversation with friends. Rarely do they wander too far out of the crosswalk lines at Garfield Avenue or Sherman Avenue.
The end of the day at Manteca High — as well as Lincoln School three blocks to the west — brings Yosemite Avenue traffic to a standstill.
And while both Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion and Manteca Unified School District Superintendent Jason Messer note that traffic backups are going to happen due to the location of the campuses on Manteca’s second heaviest traveled east-west street that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.
At the same time Manteca High isn’t the only campus with issues revolving around pedestrian behavior before and after school. Motorists have reported issues with students crossing Lathrop Road without looking to go to McDonald’s while on the way to East Union High.
Calla High and Golden West School are also located on heavily traveled roads. And while the remaining schools are generally on streets that serve residential areas they also have pedestrian safety concerns of varying degrees. An example is Stella Brockman School students that use Crom Street that tends to have fast moving traffic aggravated by motorists using it as shortcut between Airport Way and Union Road. The issues were addressed a few years back by working in conjunction with the city to add stop signs and bulb outs to slow traffic down.
The issues at Manteca High — arguably the most high profile in the district — are among those being addressed in ongoing meetings of the district’s Safe Routes to School Committee.
Pedestrian safety became a hot button issue last fall with the death of a Shastra School first grader who was killed on the way to school and a Manteca High cross country runner seriously injured while crossing Moffat Boulevard during a practice run.
“Yosemite traffic is indeed an issue when pedestrians chose not to use the crosswalks that are in place at each intersection,” noted Messer. “This along with many other issues in the district will be reviewed with the Safe Routes to School committee in the upcoming weeks. Sites have been asked to review the routes students use to and from school and highlight any specific instruction communicated to each school’s community.”
The daily after school congestion of Yosemite Avenue typically goes off without a hitch. Most drivers are well aware of the problem. Observations made on Thursday noted that drivers once the slowdown starts yield to pedestrians consistently even if students haven’t yet stepped off the curb. During the 10 minutes of observations during stop and go traffic few, students bothered to glance either direction before crossing.
It becomes dicer at Center Street where traffic is generally moving at the speed limit while parked cars and shrubbery create line of vision issues for motorist.
Obligacion has had some close encounters with pedestrians crossing Center Street who literally stepped off the curb without checking for traffic
Over the years Manteca High’s administration has effectively cut down on the number of students that cross mid-block on Yosemite — typically to reach Taco Bell.
The issues along Yosemite Avenue could be defused further if one of the long-range options for the Manteca High campus that’s being considered — re-orientating the campus entrance toward Moffat Boulevard — ever comes into play.
A Measure G project underway at Lincoln School will take pressure off Yosemite Avenue and improve student and vehicle movements before and after school. Lincoln School is having a new entrance created along Powers Avenue where the new multipurpose room is now under construction. It is where the office will be relocated along with a larger circular driveway.
The school district does not have jurisdiction for road improvements around its 30 campuses. If there are possible solutions that involve signage, crosswalks, and such that the Safe Routes to School committee would like to see, it will be presented to the City of Manteca for consideration.