It’s been four years since a Shasta School student was killed walking to school.
Since then a number of Manteca Unified students walking to and from school have been struck by cars including several near East Union High.
Past Manteca City Councils made working with the school district on establishing safe routes to school a priority. The current council has expressed frustration with everything from speeding, distracted driving, and motorists rolling through stop signs to drivers routinely cutting off pedestrians in crosswalks. Mayor Ben Cantu has gone as far as equating city streets as “wild” and “dangerous” places for pedestrians and law-abiding motorists as well.
That is part of the reason Victoria Brunn is frustrated.
The Manteca Unified director of community outreach — tasked with making sure a new 99-home development doesn’t create a safety hazard for future students walking to school along Crom Street that has been the source of complaints over the years about high speed traffic — says such concerns that have been voiced have fallen on deaf ears.
Despite three attempts by Manteca Unified to have the city require a traffic study regarding safe passage for students walking to and from the Yosemite Greens neighborhood envisioned along Airport Way adjacent to the western edge of the Manteca Golf Course, Community Development staff said one was not necessary.
That prompted the Manteca Planning Commission to approve the project earlier this month on a 3-1 vote. The project is scheduled to go before the Manteca City Council for their blessing next month.
The school district believes the developer — since they are creating a situation that will require students that live in the homes they are building to walk to Stella Brockman School — should be required to install sidewalk from the edge of their development along the southern side of Crom Street where it borders the municipal golf course to a crosswalk at Silverado Drive.
There is currently only curb and gutter and no sidewalk along the stretch. More than 15 years ago the city installed sidewalk on the south side of Crom to the eastern edge of the golf course as well as put in traffic calming devices to slow down traffic in a bid to make it safer for kids to walk to and from school.
Even though Manteca now has almost 20,000 more residents and a corresponding increase in traffic on streets including collector streets such as Crom, the school district is puzzled as to why the safety of all children that walk — and not just students — no longer is a city priority along the Crom Street corridor.
Although a traffic signal has been proposed for Crom Street at Airport Way, school officials have serious reservations about that being considered as a safe route to school for students that will reside in Yosemite Greens.
There are several reasons why. The city, as things stand now, is processing a major business park planned for more than 4 million square feet of distribution style operations that will generate heavy truck traffic will be accessed via the Airport Way/Crom Street intersection. The fact Airport Way is a heavily traveled corridor with high speed traffic and that Crom is likely to see more and more traffic as people seek short cuts as growth makes streets more congested, doesn’t make the intersection — even with signals — ideal for elementary school student to cross.
They believe not only should the city address sidewalk issues along Crom Street but that serious thought should be given to making the crosswalk at Silverado at Crom a high visibility crossing with flashing lights as was done on Woodward Avenue — a collector street south of the 120 Bypass — where students cross at Pagola Avenue to reach Veritas School.
They contend a traffic study would address such needs and could be used to require the developer to pay for the improvements.
Historically, the firm the city uses to do traffic studies connected with residential projects concentrates almost 100 percent on vehicle movements and gives little, if any, attention to pedestrian issues in terms of where people including students are walking to and from as they do with vehicle movements
Making the situation ironic is the city has spent an inordinate amount of money inventorying existing sidewalk conditions in addition to commissioning a study addressing ways Manteca needs to improve mobility and safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Elected leaders also lament about how they have no money to put in segments of missing sidewalk through the city.
Yet had a traffic study been required and the fact only the Yosemite Green subdivisions will be generating students that need to walk along Crom Street where there are no sidewalks, the city could have required off-site sidewalk improvements s they often do for roadways. And in this case with almost 100 percent of the people who would ever use sidewalk on the south side of Crom west of Silverado, the city could arguably have had the developer of Yosemite Greens pick up the entire tab or close to it.
The Yosemite Greens neighborhood is being proposed for 13.2 acres on what remains of the old Crom dairy.
It will have 8.15 units per acre as opposed to a traditional single family neighborhood of five units per acre.
A typical lot at Yosemite Greens will be 43 by 75 feet or 3,225 square feet overall. That is roughly the size of the smallest lot in traditional single family home subdivision now being built in Manteca.
The last significant medium density neighborhood built in Manteca was the Golf Villas that border the eastern edge of the golf course where the driving range is located. The Golf Villas are on the southwest corner of Union Road and Crom Street.
The neighborhood will be accessed from both Airport Way and Crom Street.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com