Crossing a street for students going to and from Manteca High along Yosemite Avenue or Moffat Boulevard should be saferin the coming months.
The Manteca City Council approved changes along Moffat Boulevard Tuesday evening designed to address growing concerns over student safety walking across the wide roadway where the posted speed limit is 40 mph but is often exceeded. There is also no stop sign of traffic for 1.1 miles on the pre-1955 Highway 99 route that is essentially a straight shot save for a slight curve.
The city next year will create a school zone by Manteca High where the speed will drop to 25 miles per hour from 40 mph when students are present. The city will also install high profile crosswalks at Sherman and Garfield avenues along with flashing warning beacons atop crosswalk alert signs in addition to other changes from Main Street to Spreckels Avenue.
The Moffat work dovetails into the current Yosemite Avenue pavement revamp and safety project now underway that will see button activated over-the-street flashing lights along with high profile crosswalks at both Garfield and Sherman avenues.
But as Public Works Director Mark Houghton noted the most effective way to drastically reduce the changes for a repeat of the accident three years ago when a student was struck crossing Moffat is for students and others to open their eyes and act accordingly.
Mayor Ben Cantu argued that stop signs should be installed instead on Moffat at Garfield as well as Powers and Moffat to bring traffic to a stop 24/7 even when school is not in session. Cantu argued a three-way stop was needed at Powers and Moffat as a nearby curve means drivers turning left from Powers to go south on Moffat have a visibility issue due to the curve.
Concerns whether stop signs were justified or would create other issues outside of the time on school days when Manteca High students are arriving or departing from campus stopped Cantu’s proposal from going forward. The mayor did manage to get the flashing warning signs before crosswalks added and a promise to revisit the issue of stop signs at a point after the improvements have been in place for a while.
The plan as adopted will eliminate two major visibility and safety issues by Manteca High — parked semi-trucks blocking sightlines near crosswalks and the confusion created by the congestion of vehicles along the south side of Moffat pulling into traffic after picking up a student. Such vehicle movements impair the vision pedestrians have of oncoming traffic and vice versa.
The council pondered other solutions such as bulb outs in the middle of the street before intersections to slow traffic as the city did on South Powers Avenue as well as traffic signals for a crosswalk only by Manteca High similar to what can be found where the Tidewater Bikeway at Louise Avenue, Northgate Drive, and Lathrop Road before approving staff recommendations.
The rest of the city’s plans for Moffat will involve:
Eliminating parking from large segments of Main Street to South Powers Avenue except in front of the Manteca VFW Hall.
Creating a center turn lane varying between 11 feet and 13 feet in width will run from a point east of Powers to Main Street.
Travel lanes being 11 feet wide in each direction.
Stripping 5-foot wide bike lanes in both directions except on one stretch where they will share the traffic lane.
The school district is currently in the first year of a three year undertaking costing $41 million to modernize and upgrade the 99-year Manteca High campus. When completed it will include a roundabout with a drop-off zone along where the new gym is being built. That will allow for quick and safe drop-offs of students away from Moffat Boulevard. Drivers would need to turn onto Garfield Avenue to drop-off and pick-up students.
A meeting of property owners along Moffat will take place next week to apprise them of the plans that Houghton noted will address a whole list of issues along Moffat. The improvements are targeted to be made next spring.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com