One of the most dangerous places to walk across a street in Manteca could be North Street in front of Doctors Hospital.
The mid-block crosswalk between Cottage Avenue and Stafford Way that is used by many of the hospital’s 500 workers, 200 physicians, 100 volunteers and hundreds of patients and their families to reach the hospital from the medical facility’s parking lot has frequent near misses.
Doctors Hospital CEO Brandon May — speaking before the City Council Tuesday before they authorized staff to proceed with a revamp the neighborhood traffic calming program adopted in 2000 by Manteca — said during monthly meetings with employees safety issues concerning crossing North Street are consistently raised.
Complaints range from drivers not slowing down to cutting too close behind pedestrians as they are crossing the street. May said staff has confirmed there have been employees that have taken sick days after sustaining injuries trying to avoid being hit.
“I’ve experienced it myself,” May said. “You take your life into your hands (crossing the street).”
For that reason, May volunteered to have Doctors Hospital work with the city to devise the first “test” run of the traffic calming program being developed.
Several council members agreed adding that similar problems of pedestrians nearly getting hit occur all-too-often further west on North Street where St. Anthony’s Catholic Church is located on the corner of Fremont Avenue.
North Street in front of Doctors Hospital could be a candidate for more robust traffic calming measures. It is not an emergency vehicle route per se as most ambulances accessing the emergency room enter the hospital grounds from Cottage Avenue from behind the hospital. Occasionally some will use Northwoods that turns into North and then turn onto Stafford Way to reach the ER. There are also traffic signals on the western end of the block the hospital is on and all-way stops on the eastern end. Only the hospital and medical offices front North Street in that location.
Deputy Public Works Director Kim Koosun was given the green light to proceed with developing a new traffic calming program.
When several council members balked at how some solutions such as placing a stop sign could take up to a year as outlined by the example Koosun provided of an existing program in Sunnyvale, City Attorney John Brinton warned by not having a process in place and following it to see whether “warrants” or conditions justify traffic calming devices such as stop signs, and speed humps to speed tables, to medians, roundabouts or traffic circles on existing streets that the city would lose “design immunity” and widen its exposure to liability in lawsuits.
That won’t happen if the city can meet warrants. That requires data on accident reports, speeding and such to public notification of those in the neighborhood impacted by such measures, obtaining public participating through stakeholders meetings, and securing approval by a set percentage of those impacted directly on the proposed deployment of traffic calming devices.
Actions such as the city did to calm traffic on Mission Ridge Drive — installing speed radar signs that flash a driver’s speed along with posted speed limits as well as painting bicycle lanes to narrow the travel lane that slows many drivers down — do not require as robust of a vetting.
City Manager Tim Ogden said he will work with staff to compress the year timeline Sunnyvale uses to respond to traffic calming concerns where requests are being made for permanent improvements on streets to six months.
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