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Hernandez: Flip Maple traffic flow
Councilman wants traffic to head north not south
Traffic in the 100 block of North Maple Avenue, which currently goes north to south, would go south to north under a proposal advocated by Councilman Vince Hernandez. - photo by RYAN BALBUENA
The 100 block of North Maple Avenue could end up with traffic going south to north if Manteca Councilman Vince Hernandez has his way.

Hernandez Tuesday night asked staff to develop cost estimates, a traffic impact study, and identify a funding source to do work needed to make the switch.

When Public Works Director Mark Houghton said it would take 30 to 60 days to come up with the data Hernandez requested, the councilman said he wanted it preferably within 30 days. City Manager Steve Pinkerton said staff would strive to provide at least a status report by then.

Hernandez along with fellow incumbent John Harris is up for re-election on Nov. 2. They are being challenged by Richard Behling and Samuel Anderson for the two council seats.

The City Council in June 2005 voted to make the 100 block of Maple Avenue that runs from the Post Office on the corner of Center Street to Tipton’s on the corner of Yosemite Avenue one-way heading south.

It was done for three reasons:

•It increased on-street parking by two stalls after bulbs were put in place.

•It reduced congestion at Maple Avenue’s intersections with Center Street and with Yosemite Avenue.

•It eliminated backing up eastbound Yosemite Avenue traffic - sometimes beyond the railroad tracks - from motorists trying to turn northbound on Maple to primarily reach the Post Office.

The one-way street on Maple Avenue was originally proposed by Mayor Willie Weatherford as a solution for both specific congestion issues, to eliminate double parking in front of the Post Office, and to increase additional parking space in Maple Avenue.

Several merchants with businesses along Maple were against the one-way street from the start. Some of those wanted Maple Avenue kept as a two-way street.

The council decision to make Maple Avenue one-way was done independent of traffic studies involving the conversion of North Main Street to its current two-lane format with the islands in the median. At the time a city staffer noted if the council had indicated they were considering such an option that the island in the 100 block of North Main Street would have been located farther to the south to allow for more than three to four vehicles to get into the left turn pocket. The biggest traffic generator downtown is the Post Office which would have meant altering the Maple Avenue traffic pattern would put more pressure on left turns onto Center Street from northbound Main which in turn would require a longer turn pocket.

Traffic impacts have a ripple effect in the downtown area due to street layout and widths.

As an example, if Post Office traffic coming from the south had to turn onto westbound Yosemite instead of westbound center to reach Maple Avenue because the direction of travel is flipped to the north, it could have impacts on traffic flows through the Yosemite/Main intersection. It could require a longer turn time for left turns from northbound Main to Yosemite.

That, in turn, could create back-ups up and down Main.

The Maple Avenue traffic flow issue was a side vote to the main event in 2005 - the lane configuration on North Main Street through downtown.

Weatherford and then councilman Jack Snyder voted for four lanes - two travel lanes in each direction - with no landscaping bulb outs while Hernandez, John Harris and Steve DeBrum voted for the current two-lane configuration.

The traffic changes were part of an overall $3 million downtown improvement project funded by the Manteca Redevelopment Agency. Other improvements included Tidewater-style street lights and traffic lights as well as streetscapes and crosswalk pavers.