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Blessing new fast food place, consultant assures planners drivers can make a U-turn where it is not legal to do so
yosemite truck
Truck traffic is just part of the issue on East Yosemite Avenue.

There is no U-turn allowed at Cottage Avenue and East Yosemite Avenue.

In fact there no U-turn allowed at any signalized traffic intersection along East Yosemite Avenue.

Why this is an issue is simple. The traffic consulting firm the City of Manteca hired to make sure the new Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers fast food restaurant being built where the city’s original McDonald’s once stood next door to The Habit Burger on Tuesday assured the Manteca Planning Commission that traffic being directed to turn right out of a driveway would not turn left but instead simply travel to the nearby Yosemite/Cottage intersection and make a U-turn in order to head back to the freeway.

One would hope a firm such as Fehr & Peers whose fingerprints can be found on almost every development decision the city has made over the years to assure traffic impacts growth creates are addressed would sweat the details in order to earn their paychecks.

It was clear the commission that voted 4-1 to approve the fast food restaurant with Leonard Smith dissenting was concerned about traffic given they devoted almost all of their questions on the project to traffic issues.

The commission’s concerns centered on turn movements out of Raising Cane’s as well as the accumulative impact of traffic on East Yosemite Avenue.

The consultant assured the commissioners that those leaving Raising Cane’s western most driveway where only right turns are allowed will do just that. The eastern driveway would have the only access from Yosemite Avenue and would allow left and right turns for traffic existing.

Commissioners zeroed in on that right turn only driveway insisting it wouldn’t work. The consultant said it would as drivers would find it easier to make a U-turn at Cottage. Two problems with that — it is illegal to do so and if anyone bothered to actually look at the site in person instead of looking at Google Mapscan tell that it lacks a radius even for a Yugo to make a U-turn.

The consultant doubled down — and then tripled down — on his assertion that they would opt to make a U-turn instead even though it is clearly prohibited.

Smith at one point said “I’ll bet my bottom dollar” that people will turn left out of the right turn only driveway.

Every day people do just that at a right turn only driveway just down the street by the KFC and another at the Chevron station across the street. Traffic engineers paid big bucks back two decades ago assured another commission that drivers would obey the signs.

The irony is the 60-page Raising Cane’s traffic study that also addressed impacts at Northwoods Avenue — the de factor drive-thru lane for Chick-fil-A and Yosemite as well as Cottage and Yosemite — was not legally required. Staff decided it was a good exercise just to make sure traffic would be OK.

It’s too bad the folks at 1001 W. Center Street missed the runway by about 20 miles on this one. The issue on East Yosemite between Northwoods and Cottage (Commerce and Spreckels) isn’t the traffic volume as much as the turn movements.

There are 10 driveways on the north side of that stretch of Yosemite and four on the south side. Anyone who has driven the area knows why this is an issue. It’s called unrestricted left turns in and out of all of the driveways. Even if three of them will have restricted right turns out — but not left turns into — makes no difference because it is only on paper. There are no raised concrete barriers that most cities have on such heavily traveled streets to prevent at-will left turns or even protected left turn pockets like the rare one you will find in Manteca on South Main Street to access Dairy Queen and adjoining businesses. Toss in the fact the area is in the running for being “the” Fast Food Mecca for the entire length of Highway 99 from Redding to Bakersfield for the concentration of such restaurants and you have created a body shop owner’s dream.

Does anyone remember the high number of T-bone accidents that happened on Yosemite when McDonald’s occupied the same spot? Check with the Manteca Fire Department.

Why this happened is obvious to anyone who has driven Yosemite for more than a few times. People are constantly moving over way early into the two-way center turn lane in order to make a left turn onto Spreckels Avenue.

Tuesday night after the Planning Commission signed off a quick drive to double check the no U-turn status underscored that point. Preparing to make a left turn into the eastern most entrance into the bowling alley, a semi-truck heading toward distribution centers in Spreckels Park was already moving into the center lane despite no vehicles being in line to turn left onto Spreckels Avenue.

That drove home how the original design to take Yosemite Avenue from a narrow two lane road 21 years ago into a six lane — (two westbound, three eastbound, and the center turning lane) — apparently didn’t give much thought to it becoming a major truck route. That could be because extending Spreckels Avenue to connect with Industrial Park Drive and the trucking activity in the Manteca Industrial Park wasn’t even on the radar.

One would think the city would be giving some serious consideration to somewhat restricting the left turn free for all on Yosemite Avenue.
All of the planners except for Smith were able to put all of that aside noting growth is inevitable, a fast food place is the best use for the site, and that there is obviously a demand for it. All of that is true.

They were right in refraining from punishing Raising Cane’s for the city’s collective — and arguably inadvertent — missteps and giving the 3,247-square-foot restaurant with a 1,194-square-foot outdoor dining patio the green light.

But they missed a chance to send elected leaders a message.

This after they pointed out the fact they had voiced concerns about Chick-fil-A having only one access point after Caltrans put the kibosh to a proposal for an entrance off of Yosemite Avenue for what are now obvious reasons. They also noted the traffic backup In-N-Out Burger creates and how the adjoining center that houses several food places such as Chipotle’s is always jammed. They mercifully didn’t bring up the brilliant planning for Starbucks and Jamba Juice. But they did note the overabundance of fast food options created serious traffic issues.

Toss in the fact Yosemite is a major entrance to the city and the high volume of truck traffic one might think the city might want to come up with a game plan sooner than later and implement it.

If they do they might want to shop around for a traffic consultant that actually pays attention to details that exist in the real world before rubber stamping projects after running computer models in a vacuum that fail to take into account how people actually drive.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email