Sixteen years ago a young woman was perched on the edge of the Cottage Avenue bridge crossing Highway 99 one evening forcing the closure of Highway 99.
Several years prior a similar late night incident involving a young man on the Union Road overpass across the 120 Bypass forced a shutdown of traffic on that freeway as well.
In both cases emergency personnel talked the would-be jumpers down.
What brings this up is an observation by Manteca resident Stephen Breacain regarding the three bridges across the 120 Bypass at Union Road, Airport Way, and Main Street that have a good deal of pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
Breacain in his letter notes “Sierra High School students living south of the 120 Bypass travel across the Airport Way overpass daily, where there are no sidewalks and the kids and other pedestrians are forced to walk in the very busy roadway. In the event of even a minor accident on the overpass, a pedestrian could easily be knocked over the low railing onto the freeway below.”
Unlike in other urban areas where bridges over freeways that have significant foot traffic have cyclone fences as a degree of added safety, the overpasses simply have what is essentially a 30-inch high concrete K-rail. It’s bad enough there are no sidewalks but you’d think Caltrans might address the lack of fencing.
In Caltrans defense, when the overpasses were built there were no homes south of the 120 Bypass — just farms and rural estates. That, however, is no longer the case. Realizing major work will start soon to upgrade the Union Road interchange complete with a separate pedestrian/bicyclist bridge, hopefully someone at the city can convince Caltrans to improve safety on the Main Street and Airport Way overcrossings that are used extensively by youths and others on foot by adding chain link fencing.
Airport Way within city
is Manteca’s responsibility
While on the subject of roads, reader Robert Cook had a question that a couple of others have raised: “Isn’t Airport Way a San Joaquin County road (J13) and maintained by them?”
Good question. For the most part Airport Way is maintained by the county. But whenever the city annexes area that includes a county road — or simply brings the city limits to the edge of a county road — the city is required to takeover maintenance for all of the section of the roadway. That is a countywide policy.
Having said that, Airport Way was designed and built as a rural road which is why some segments in the city — particularly Yosemite Avenue to Louise Avenue — is in such a deplorable state.
City traffic engineer
is now onboard
Manteca is definitely getting up to speed.
The traffic engineer position that was vacant for a decade after the Great Recession that hammered the municipal budget was filled several months ago.
The new traffic engineer, Nathan Dahlen, reports to Deputy Public Works Director Koosun Kim.
That means when the city’s traffic calming program is updated — the current policy in place was adopted in 2000 — Manteca will be much more nimble responding to neighborhood traffic safety concerns. There are a bunch of steps that jurisdictions must do to determine if they can make changes to existing roads whether it is placing a stop sign or putting in place a roundabout in order not to increase the city’s liability exposure.
Having a position dedicated to traffic issues will give neighborhood concerns more focused attention once they are raised instead of being handled by other engineers that have their plates full with other projects ranging from new sewer trunk lines, interchange projects, wastewater treatment plant upgrades, overseeing more than $4 million in existing street improvements moving forward, dealing with growth, and numerous other concerns.