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Council OKs pavers for 4 blocks of North Main
Council OKs pavers for 4 blocks of North Main

A solution to what amounts to three basic problems — improving traffic flow on Main Street through the current two-lane bottleneck, street flooding during downpours, and jump starting efforts to pump new life into downtown — got the go ahead from the Manteca City Council Tuesday night.

As an added bonus taxpayers are going to save money now and save money later.

The council blessed a plan advanced by staff led by Acting Public Works Director Koosun Kim to use pavers for the first time for a street project beyond just sidewalks in Manteca.

A public meeting is planned for July 29 to get community input on what color the pavers — aside from those used for travel lanes, crosswalks, and turn arrows —  will be that are being placed along the 2,600-foot stretch.

A bid is expected to be awarded in August with construction completed before Christmas.

The council more than two years ago — led by Councilman Gary Singh’s insistence that the city not keep doing traffic improvements to Main Street through downtown in incremental and expensive steps — directed staff to devise a way so North Main Street could be four lanes from Yosemite Avenue to Alameda Street in one fell swoop.

A plan originally advanced would have cost more than $4 million as the street would need to be widened by four feet and eat into sidewalks. It would also require all street lights and traffic signals to be relocated. In addition an underlying 6-inch thick slab of concrete that was the original Highway 99 would needed to have been cracked or completely removed to prevent the asphalt pavement put in place from having a shortened life.

Staff decided to take a holistic approach that Mayor Ben Cantu praised as “out of the box thinking”. The plan addresses lingering flooding problems that have persisted after two significant storm drain system improvements since 1989 failed to completely compensate for the flatness of the area in sudden downpours.

That is where pavers enter the picture to address a multitude of problems.

They include the desire to retain 10-foot wide travel lanes, avoid costly relocation of street lights and traffic signals that would be subject to notorious PG&E delays that drive the cost of projects up, eliminates the need to replace 4,000 plus feet of curb and gutter, addresses perennial flooding during heavy or sustained downpours at the Main and Center intersection, recharges the groundwater, and does not require taking out sidewalk and making them narrower or having store doors replaced so they open inward.

It also eliminates the need to paint traffic lanes, sidewalks, and turn lane arrows as those are put in place with colored pavers.

There is also the low maintenance cost. Pavers have a lifespan of 65 years versus asphalt at 17 years. Also if utility work is done, pavers are removed to get into trenches and then replaced without unsightly and often uneven pavement patching. If by chance several pavers “settle” they can easily be taken out and repacked using sand.

The original cost for the project was pegged at $3.9 million with PG&E relocation work that would be required costing another $500,000 to $1 million and possibly delaying the project longer. By using pavers the project will cost $1 million to $2 million for the 2,600-foot long stretch and roadway that averages 50 feet in width depending upon the condition of the existing 6-inch thick concrete. The concrete is a required base for pavers. The initial savings from going with pavers could easily exceed $2 million.

The pavers also beautiful the areas much like they do in downtown Ripon as well as some neighborhood streets in that city. Pavers tend to slow traffic down a bit adding another benefit. And while the city will not allow the upgraded Main Street to be used as a truck route, the pavers are strong enough to handle trucks. Pavers were used by Stanislaus County to address a problematic area in Westley off of Interstate 5 that is used extensively by trucks.

“It’s a real cool concept,” noted Councilman Jose Nuño who zeroed in on the aesthetics. “It really changes the face of downtown.
By using pavers the 2-foot wide gutters can be eliminated on both sides of the street. That space can then be added to travel lanes so all four lanes and the turn lane in the middle are 10 feet wide to avoid having to widen the street.

Pavers are packed in sand making them a permeable road surface. The area under where the gutters are now would have a 2-foot wide “French drain” or storm water infiltration system using gravel. The drains will run the distance from Yosemite to Alameda on both sides of the street and will go down far enough runoff can effectively recharge the ground water and take pressure off the storm drain system.

Councilman Dave Breitenbucher praised the approach as being both functional and appealing in design.

Singh said he was hoping to see pavers become a new part of Manteca’s street strategies.

Ripon over the years has required several neighborhoods when they were built to have all paver streets for aesthetics and to reduce ongoing city expenses.

Kim addressed concerns that some had regarding original crosswalk pavers the city installed in the 1980s that became tripping hazards, settled, and cracked.

He noted the replacement paver sidewalks that went in at intersections in downtown Manteca 15 years ago have no such issues. Not only were they street grade pavers but the technology to install them properly had been refined by 2005 and is even more effective today.

The project will also remove the remaining landscaping bulb-outs that were installed in 2005.


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