Tonight’s a big test for the unwritten Manteca doctrine that is based on drivers in this city having the birthright to turn left where ever they want along major corridors.
The current City Council will decide what is more important — reducing the potential for traffic collisions and traffic congestion or motorists being able to turn left into or left out of commercial driveways at will.
The question centers on whether the council prefers a narrow raised median when Main Street between Yosemite Avenue and Alameda Street is converting to two lanes in each direction when parking is eliminated with separate left turn lanes at intersections or if it should be simply stripped.
Previous councils have sided with those that don’t want to be inconvenienced with having to make a U-turn or drive around a block and instead can create disastrous situations.
Caltrans 20 years ago as it was preparing to upgrade the Highway 99 interchange with East Yosemite Avenue and East Highway 120 to Austin Road recommended the city allow a median to be placed down the middle of East Yosemite Avenue to prevent left turns from the freeway to Pestana Avenue. Over the years that has led to a number of T-bone crashes — some with serious injuries of people turning left out of El Rancho Mobile Home Park as well as into and out of nearby businesses. It has also led to those turning onto the state highway blocking traffic as they try to snake their way across the heavily traveled roadway.
What swayed the council at the time to reject the Caltrans recommendation was the owner of the Burger King that said eliminating left turns would kill his business. Go ahead and order a Whooper at the location. In order to do that, however, you are going to have to use Door Dash as they tore down Burger King years ago and put up an In Shape City parking lot. Burger King actually closed two years after the work was done along the corridor and the former fast food site was used by the old Curt Hughes Dodge dealership as a used car lot.
The other high profile allowance of left turns at will occurred 21 years ago on East Yosemite between Commerce Avenue and Spreckels Avenue.
While there is an occasional T-bone along the stretch now and then, when McDonald’s was where the vacant lot sits between the bowling alley and The Habit Burger there was either a fender bender or a severe accident about every three to four weeks from someone crossing westbound traffic to either turn in and turn out.
It is important to remember such fun if there is a belief expressed low profile and narrow medians will impede emergency response vehicles. By having the median design proposed by the Public Works Department it will work to reduce the need for emergency services.
And for those that think a set of double yellow line or a wider area with yellow slashes between double yellow lines will prevent people from making left turns, take a few minutes during times of heavy traffic and sit at the Chevron station at Yosemite and Spreckels Avenue as well as the entrance to El Rancho Mobile Home Park and to see how motorists obey no left turn signs leaving both concerns when there is only yellow stripping where a median of some type could be placed to “prevent” them from turning left across traffic in precarious situations.
If that is not enough to convenience the council they might want to ask Wendy Benevides about how crashes were reduced and congestion eased somewhat when medians were placed in the 100 block of North Main to prevent people from turning left in and out of the Wells Fargo parking lot as well as the alley.
If the council goes with the raised median here’s a bonus test: Should they go ugly, nice or nicer?
Ugly is making them concrete. Nice is using pavers. Nicer is a combination of pavers and low maintenance landscaping.
The City Council meets tonight at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com