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Mixed reaction on Woodward Ave. plan
Woodward Avenue from South Main Street to Bridewell Avenue could be converted from four to two lanes. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Could narrowing Woodward Avenue from four lanes to two near its namesake park serve as the possible solution to deter speeding motorists and alleviate the neighborhood parking problem?

At Thursday’s workshop, the City of Manteca staff discussed the plan that included creating bike lanes and 250 parallel parking stalls on both sides of the proposed two-lane Woodward Avenue between South Main Street and Bridewell Avenue.

Assistant City Manager Karen McLaughlin added that another 150 or so parking stalls are planned for the not-so-distant future on the southeast corner of Woodward Park, along Bridewell near Heartland Drive.

Public Works Director Mark Houghton indicated that some motorists often exceed the posted 40 mph speed limit along this stretch of road.

“One way to reduce the speeds is to narrow the traffic lanes,” he said.

The cost in configuring the road striping to add the bike lanes would be fairly economical, Houghton noted.

“It would be somewhere in the $20,000 to $50,000 range,” he said. “We could always reconfigure once the area grows out.”

Measure K sales tax coupled with restricted taxes collected by the state could help foot the bill.

According to Houghton, Atherton Drive would eventually serve as the major route in this area south of the Highway 120 Bypass once completed, thus, pulling traffic away from the Woodward Park area.

But for the sparse group in attendance – some blamed the City’s telephone notification system for the lackluster turnout – the concerns were for the here and now.

Take the planned parking across the street from the park, for example.

“That’s an accident waiting to happen,” said Mark Cappellanti. “I’d be worried about kids jaywalking across Woodward Avenue to get to the park.

“Putting parking on the northside is nuts – it’s just not a good plan.”

He also doesn’t favor reducing Woodward Avenue to two lanes.

“Woodward Park was not disclosed to be used as a regional soccer center in our development master plan,” according to the flyer Cappellanti is circulating. “Now the City plans to reduce Woodward Avenue to two lanes and add street parking to facilitate these large events instead of adding parking at the park – Let’s get this fixed.”

Linda Silverman, on the other hand, not only lives nearby the park but is among the frequent walkers, and is nearing three miles on her daily exercise routine.

For the most part, she favors the plan. “I would hate to see the City spend money it doesn’t have,” Silverman said.

Public events including soccer tournaments are reportedly among the causes for the parking problems at Woodward Park. Residents in the area complained about the visitors who double parked or blocked driveways, handicapped access points, and fire hydrants.

Richard Hanson suggested the City offer shuttle services to special events.

The workshop was held under the direction of City Council, with hopes of obtaining community input.

Based on low turnout, Houghton indicated that the chance of conducting another workshop is possible.

“If need be, we’ll reschedule another one,” he said.