There are three distinct classes of separated bike paths in Manteca with segments 100 percent under city control getting the least attention when it comes to maintenance and protecting the integrity of the pavement.
Manteca’s elected leaders made that clear Wednesday when they yanked funding for sealcoating the 3.4-mile Tidewater Bikeway — the largest segment of city maintained bike paths — during a special council meeting.
The $120,000 budgeted last July to repair cracks that have become tripping hazards as well as extend the asphalt life as recommended by pavement engineers was instead diverted to road projects.
The council didn’t even consider earmarking it for other pressing pedestrian safety issues such as repairing segments of sidewalks that are rampant tripping hazards around town. But instead the council that has said it would strive to make Manteca more pedestrian friendly simply reaffirmed the strategy of previous councils and diverted all available funds to roads.
Unlike other funds that go for roads that come from gas tax, the $120,000 set aside for the Tidewater was from the general fund. That’s because when the money was budgeted last year it was done on the assumption the Tidewater — which is actually a linear city park and not a street per se — has always been viewed primarily as a recreational asset first. The council on Wednesday did not question why the Tidewater was the only asphalt related project that was to be financed with general fund money when they were diverting funds elsewhere. The council less than 10 months ago embraced the Tidewater work as much needed recreational investment yet their decision Wednesday puts it in direct competition for more than $40 million in backlogged street work.
The council did direct staff to do stop-gap patch work along the Tidewater where there are serious issues such as expanding cracks.
The Tidewater Bikeway was put in place 22 years ago along the former right-of-way of the Tidewater Southern Railway as a linear park to serve as the backbone of an envisioned 22-mile separated bike path to circle the city. It has since been expanded upon.
While there are some segments such as the section connecting the Tidewater to the Atherton Drive Bikeway that are also supported 100 percent by the city’s general fund, almost all of the remaining segments are in landscape maintenance districts (LMD). There is also a half mile along Spreckels Avenue that is in a private landscape maintenance district.
Homeowners and commercial property owners in the LMDs are paying annually into funds that allow ongoing maintenance including seal coating every 10 years of public bike paths that may be within the district.
The private Spreckels Park Landscape Maintenance District less than two years ago not only resealed the bikeway from Yosemite Avenue to Moffat Boulevard but they reconstructed segments that had cracks as well as was suffering excessive damage from water puddling. Based on the council’s direction, similar issues along the 3.4-mile Tidewater will only be patched.
The Tidewater is arguably the heaviest used bike path in Manteca. It is used by joggers, walkers, kids walking to and from school, bicyclists as well as people in motorized wheelchairs to access shopping and the library or simple to get fresh air.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com