There are now two high profile crosswalks in place on Moffat Boulevard by Manteca High where pedestrians can active amber flashing lights to get the attention of drivers.
At the same time there are also high-profile stop signs on Woodward Avenue with flashing red LED lights along the edge of the signs at intersections with Atherton Drive and Main Street just as there are at Pillsbury Road.
Crews are getting ready to tear out the worst segment of pavement on a major street in Manteca — Lathrop Road east of Airport Way — and rebuild it from the ground up. The work will be completed by September.
Those are three examples of what can happen when the people elected by Manteca residents — council members — step up to the plate, give clear direction, and empower city staff to get the job done instead of relying on consultants.
Studies such as the $258,058 the consulting firm Fehr & Peers are now putting together that is dubbed “Manteca’s Active Transportation Plan” is a critical element cities must have in seeking state and federal funds when they become available. In reality, however, the only way for any plan that is formulated to ever by implemented is clear direction and political will on the part of council members without giving staff mixed signals. Without it plans get buried under other work that the council directs to be tackled.
It wasn’t the intent in the past, but giving staff multiple tasks to tackle without sufficient staffing and/or funding plus a clear direction that other endeavors can wait in line created situations where the city appears to be spinning its wheels.
Essentially the city was in a holding pattern with multiple projects inching forward. Many had only enough money to keep it as a budget item or only money set aside to do part of the work.
With streets, the council re-examined limited funding they had, took a second look at projects such as Airport Way, looked at needs that they were acutely aware either by their travels around Manteca or having their ear-bent by residents, and then asked staff — and not a consultant — to give them a read from their professional perspective on the worst pavement in town.
That is why work is now underway on the stretch of Lathrop Road — deemed the worst pavement in Manteca — that wasn’t even on the radar nine months ago. The council had staff revisit the basic design of Airport Way between Yosemite and Daniels to take it down from six lanes to four lanes.
In doing so, that reduced costly right-of-way acquisition, avoided the expensive relocation of power poles, and skirted possibly having to move a transmission tower. That was made possible by a decision to have a separate road designed to move trucks ultimately from CenterPoint through developing mega-business parks along the Airport Way corridor to tie into West Yosemite and eventually allow truck traffic to reach the 120 Bypass via the future McKinley Avenue interchange without using Airport Way.
The money savings helped in part to fund part of the Lathrop Road work. It will also allow the extension of Milo Candini Drive to Yosemite Avenue to take pressure off the Daniels Street/Airport Way intersection to improve traffic circulation.
Arguably where council members are making the biggest impact are in small improvements and adjustments in what is already in place. Over the years Councilwoman Debby Moorhead had led the charge to get crosswalks in place and traffic signals adjusted to correct what she and others perceived to be dangerous situations.
The current council pushed hard to get a four-way stop in place at Atherton Drive and Airport Way after experts repeatedly questioned the need for the signs. The Atherton Drive extension to Airport Way, another long promised and twice funded project that was repeatedly delayed, got at the front of the queue by non-stop pushing by Moorhead who, along with fellow council members, saw it as a way to improve traffic circulation, reduce traffic bypassing the 120 Bypass from going down Woodward Avenue, and to spur commercial development.
When the council was pushing for safety improvements to Moffat Boulevard near Manteca High, they received a staff plan to improve almost the entire corridor that would cost more and take longer to implement. While the council didn’t necessarily disagree with much of the proposal, they were more concerned about the immediate safety issues at Manteca High.
City Manager Miranda Lutzow turned to Acting Public Works Director Kim Koosun who made initial improvements possible within a week or so, put in motion the flashers that were installed earlier this month, and will see a no-parking area established this summer. Koosun also suggested adding the high profile crosswalks with overhead flashers in front of Manteca High along Yosemite Avenue and then went out and secured the grant money to make them possible.
Singh led the charge that will eventually see four-way stops on arterials have the highly visible stop signs ringed with flashing red lights. It helps substantially when new stop signs are added at places such as on Woodward Avenue at Pillsbury and Atherton as well as Airport Way at Atherton. It also makes the stop signs more visible at night and during fog.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org