Woodward Avenue — a sleepy country road just 17 years ago – has been a sore subject with those who have moved into homes in Manteca’s fastest growing neighborhoods south of the 120 Bypass.
It has been characterized as a race track, a shortcut for frustrated afternoon commuters eastbound on the 120 Bypass and perilous for pedestrians to cross as underscored by a man struck and killed by a car after making it halfway across the street pushing his grandson in a stroller.
By the end of the year, Woodward Avenue traffic patterns and issues could take a marked turn for the better.
uThe City Council on Tuesday is being asked to OK calling for bids to install a high visibility crosswalk and flashing beacon system on Woodward Avenue at Pagola Avenue; to install a high visibility crosswalk, overhead flashing beacon system, and LED signs on Woodward Avenue at Wellington Avenue; and to install traffic stripes and solar powered LED stop signs at the Woodward Avenue and Pillsbury Road intersection.
uBuilding the missing gap of Atherton Drive between Union Road and Airport Way.
uThe construction of additional roundabouts on Woodward Avenue in conjunction with new housing developments.
The city has been struggling to move forward with the work going out to bid next week due to Public Works staffing issues and an onslaught of major infrastructure projects as well as growth-related work. The three projects were tied together in a bid to reduce costs.
The endeavor will replace in ground flashers at Wellington Avenue that have not been working since November 2016.
The completion of the Atherton Drive gap would allow traffic backing up on the 120 Bypass to get off at Airport Way and either reach South Manteca neighborhoods or access Highway 99 headed south toward Ripon. Atherton Drive is not only closer to the 120 Bypass but it would be four lanes all the way from Airport Way to Woodward Avenue just west of Moffat Boulevard. It also has fewer driveways and no roundabouts to slow traffic.
Woodward Avenue was originally seen as a four-lane arterial and not a collector street. That was before Atherton Drive entered the mix as a parallel street less than a quarter of a mile to the north.
Elected leaders — responding to concerns that Atherton Drive east of Main Street had become a speedway of sorts and the owners of 72 long-established homes that were once rural were not happy about the prospects of their fairly small rural-style properties being severely cutback through what promised to be a cantankerous eminent domain process — opted to change course on Woodward Avenue.
The standard now unfolding on Woodward west of Main Street calls for a wide lane road separated by a tree-lined median with new homes built facing the street instead of backing up to sound walls.
That accomplished two things. It allows Woodward Avenue from Main Street west to develop as a more typical collector street such as you will find on Powers Avenue, Pestana Avenue, Mission Ridge Drive, and Crom Street.
By eliminating sound walls it avoids giving drivers the sense that it is OK to push the envelope. Passive speed calming strategies such as tree-lined streets, narrower driving lanes, and even bicycle lanes have been proven by the Federal Highway Safety Administration to slow traffic. The planting areas that separate on-street parking areas in new subdivisions along Woodward are a continuum of that strategy. Roundabouts also work to slow traffic down while making crossing the street less perilous for pedestrians. They also make it easier for traffic from side streets to access Woodward Avenue.