Road work on Louise Avenue may take a little longer than expected.
That’s because the city is close to setting a firm construction date with Union Pacific Railroad to eliminate a bottleneck by widening Louise Avenue to four lanes where it crosses the tracks between Airport Way and Union Road.
The project has been on the city’s to-do-list for nearly a decade.
It is being paid for with $462,265 in restricted road construction funds.
The project was delayed a number of times for reasons out of the city’s control. First, it required California Public Utilities Commission approval as it involved the relocation of control devices for an underground pipeline that carries fuel that runs along the railroad corridor.
After the pipeline issue was addressed the city ran into scheduling problems with the railroad.
“They (the railroad) have a lot of work they do,” Public Works Director Mark Houghton said. “We can’t work in their right of way without them.”
Union Pacific crews are expected to be able to move the signals and crossing arms back to allow Louise Avenue to be widened to four lanes crossing the tracks by mid-2015.
When the work is completed, Louise Avenue will be four lanes from Airport Way to a point just east of Main Street.
Meanwhile, current construction on the median and landscaping project is nearing a winter hiatus. As soon as there is a break in the weather crews will restripe Louise Avenue plus put in place bike lanes to allow the return to four lane traffic.
The balance of the work — primarily landscaping — will be completed after the rainy season. There will be no construction related traffic impediments until then.
The median-related work is being down with federal funds that can only be spent for that purpose. The $1.7 million was in set aside money for beautification connected with transportation projects. The money was allocated to San Joaquin County jurisdictions but was in danger of being returned to the federal government and distributed elsewhere in the country. Manteca had the Louise Avenue project ready to go to construction and was able to secure the funds with the help of the San Joaquin County Council of Governments.
Acting on complaints from citizens relayed by council members, staff was able to get the contractor to speed up some of the work getting Union Road reopened to four lanes and making sure that — with weather permitting — Louise Avenue will be returned to four lanes for the time being.
Houghton said issues with the project have made it clear in the future than any similar such road construction project won’t be started in the fall if possible in order to stay away from weather-related issues.
Besides the federal funds, $180,000 in Measure K sales tax receipts will be used to replace failing sections of pavement once the rainy season ends.
The project includes:
seal slurry work and stripping to create bike lanes that will tie into the Tidewater Bikeway.
slowing down traffic that often exceeds the speed limit.
installing missing sidewalk segments.
replacing non-compliant wheelchair ramps.
The project has been designed so medians don’t eliminate any current turn movements at intersections.
The improvements are designed as a wash between the elimination of the cost of maintaining the center median pavement and the addition of long-term landscaping care.