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Council may reaffirm earlier approval tonight
Two youngsters cross the 62-foot wide Woodward Avenue at Buena Vista Drive to reach Woodward Park. - photo by HIME ROMERO

The analytic folks say there’s no need for crosswalks on Woodward Avenue at Buena Vista Drive or on Atherton Drive at Wellington Avenue.

Now it’s up to the Manteca City Council tonight to finally decide whether to ignore that advice and move forward with one or both crosswalks some 27 months after promising residents they would place a crosswalk at the Woodward Avenue location. The council meets at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

The council earlier this month delayed making a decision on whether to spend upwards of $150,000 to place crosswalks at both locations. That’s because Councilman Vince Hernandez, who Mayor Willie Weatherford described as the “point man” for the Woodward Avenue crosswalk proposal, was not in attendance. He also lives in the general Woodward neighborhood.

The Loomis-based consultant hired by the city determined based on standards a crosswalk was not justified at the Woodward Avenue location or Atherton Drive.

At Woodward, the consultant noted during two-hour periods less than  40 pedestrians cross Woodward Avenue and most of them were joggers or people who were physically fit who could beat oncoming traffic if necessary. Standards call for at least 40 pedestrians crossing a street within a two-hour period to warrant crosswalks.

The analytic information does not note whether any of those two-hour periods involved times when kids were walking to and from Woodward School who had to cross Woodward Avenue. That’s a key point since the petition that included nearly 90 names originally circulated back in 2011 that prompted the council to give its tentative OK for a crosswalk was done so by parents concerned about their children’s safety going to and from school as well as generally accessing the park. Parents first started expressing concerns about the safety of their children crossing Woodward Avenue 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.

The consultant also noted the speed that 85 percent of the vehicles travel at on Woodward Avenue is 48 mph, just three miles over the speed limit.

The council two months ago directed staff to install a crosswalk with appropriate warning devices on Cottage Avenue at Brookdale Way because of youth walking to and from Cowell School. The decision was made despite no data of whether 40 people crossed the street in any given two-hour period. And there also was not a neighborhood petition circulated by concerned parents.

The Woodward Avenue crosswalk got put on hold after the council said go ahead in April 2011 while the staff looked at traffic and parking as a whole around Woodward Park. Then further staff cutbacks and other more pressing projects requiring action before losing state and federal money took priority. Next the exact design of the crosswalk was delayed until such time the Atherton Drive extension was opened and the city was able to study changes in the traffic patterns.

Then two years after the council said “yes” they made the decision to hire a private traffic consultant for over $10,000 to get the ball rolling.

Atherton Drive and Wellington is where the Atherton Drive spur of the Tidewater Bikeway connects with the Wellington Avenue spur.

Every place else in Manteca where the separated bike path system crosses a street there is at least a crosswalk (Alameda Street, Manteca Avenue, Yosemite Avenue, Van Ryn Road,) if not a crosswalk and traffic signals ( Northgate Drive, Louise Avenue, Center Street, South Main Street, Industrial Park Drive) or a crosswalk with in-ground flashing warning lights. (Woodward Avenue). A developer is on the hook to install them on Lathrop Road as well.

Atherton Drive is designed as a connector street as well.

There is $150,000 included in the budget for the fiscal year that started July 1 to install crosswalks at both locations if the council so desired. The cost is high as it is designed to maximize safety by placing a pedestrian refuge — a raised median — in the center of the 62-foot wide Woodward Avenue in addition to the striping of the crosswalk.