It’s taken 12 years but a number of Manteca motorists who drive Main Street are finally getting their wish — the much maligned landscaping bulb outs are finally coming out.
City crews started the work Thursday cutting down two trees. Over the course of the coming weeks the trees will all be removed, waterlines capped, curbing ripped out and pavement patches put in place in the 100 block of North Main Street. The two medians will be left in place while the city looks at a holistic solution for traffic through downtown along the Main Street corridor instead of just concentrating on the one block.
While no lanes will be added until after the study is completed, it will remove the bulbs that have long provoked the ire of a number of drivers. The bulbs were installed in 2005 as part of a $3.1 million downtown facelift that included the Victorian-era style street lights and traffic signals as well as pavers and street furnishings. Three of the bulbs in the 100 block were removed over the years after vehicles repeatedly hit them trying to turn out of alleys or make right turns into driveways.
Originally elected leaders directed staff in 2016 to come up with a plan for the 100 block of North Main that included removing the bulbs and reconfiguring traffic lanes to improve vehicle flow. Staff initially placed a $1 million price tag on such an undertaking as they were not sure of the ultimate cost.
The endeavor was delayed after the city thought it would make sense to do the work in conjunction with the repaving of Main Street between Yosemite Avenue and Atherton Drive to avoid tearing up the city’s main north-south thoroughfare twice.
Input from the community re-enforced concerns that council members voiced that the lane configurations a consultant came up with — two through southbound lanes and one through northbound lane — plus left turning lanes was too shortsighted given existing volume and growth. The council also was not wild about having to spend upwards of $1 million on the 100 block and then having to come back in five or 10 years to do it again because traffic had gotten worse.
The council unanimously last month directed staff to look at making Main from Alameda to Yosemite four lanes by eliminating parking. That means Main would be four lanes from Lathrop Road with its interchange with Highway 99 and to the 120 Bypass interchange.
Meanwhile, they wanted city crews to tear the bulbs out.
The 100 block of North Main has been altered three times since 1991. In the first remake the city agreed with a consultant who recommended they eliminate left turns from southbound Main to eastbound Yosemite Avenue.
That proved to be very unpopular with many motorists.
The city then went back to left turns for southbound Main but changed lane configurations.
The solution implemented in 2006 came after a 3-2 split council decision to go with a plan to slow Main Street traffic down as it passes through downtown. They rejected proposal at the time to make Main four lanes from Alameda to Yosemite. Instead they reverted back to one through travel lane in each direction and added the bulb outs and medians in a bid to slow traffic. as well as enhance the street’s look.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org