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Lathrop delays vote on underpass lights
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LATHROP – The decision on whether to install lighting under two freeway overcrossings used extensively by students will have to wait until at least April.

For the last month the Lathrop City Council has batted around the idea of installing lights underneath the Louise Avenue and Lathrop Avenue overpasses so that students in the older section of town walk to school can do so along an illuminated path.

Often times early in the morning or after sports practices the route is dark, and that section of Lathrop – with alfalfa fields all around the three-year old high school – gets foggy during the winter months.

Because the project includes work with Interstate 5, the council is at the mercy of Caltrans. Waiting to get the project reviewed by the agency is the reason for the two-month delay.

While some communities, like Ripon, have built overcrossings specifically for students on the eastern side of Highway 99 to get back and forth to Ripon High School, students in Lathrop have used the existing pathway to Lathrop Elementary since the school was build.

Access isn’t difficult for new homeowners on the west side of I-5, but the combination of traffic and road widening to get the existing Lathrop Road and Louise Avenue to sync-up with their newly designed counterparts creates hazards for students who have to navigate their way past that as well the traffic rushing by during the morning hours.

The agenda item was the last thing that the council was to discuss for two consecutive meeting calendars. Both meetings ran late because earlier agenda items ate up a significant portion of the three-hour block of time that the council sets aside for meetings so that those watching at home can view the entire meeting.

It is unclear whether a meeting with Caltrans has currently been set, and what sort of time table – if any – the city would like to target with this particular project.

Nothing on the agenda has listed it as a joint item with Manteca Unified School District – that operates Lathrop High School – and is concerned with student safety both to and from school.