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Municipal staff reductions create back log of sidewalk & other Public Works projects
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The clock is ticking.

The City of Manteca is stepping up a project to install sidewalks along Louise Avenue east of Cottage Avenue and make other improvements to the Louise Avenue corridor.

If they don’t, they stand to lose Manteca’s $967,440 share of statewide Proposition 1B bond money that will be taken back by the state and redistributed to other cities if work isn’t started by mid-2013.

It is part of a larger dilemma that the city faces. It has funds needed for  well over $10 million in street-related projects such as road work, sidewalks, and street light upgrades but lacks adequate staff to keep projects moving forward. That’s because the project money is restricted and can’t be used to fund staff time essentially to getting  projects moving and to construction.

City Manager Karen McLaughlin said staff is looking at restoring a traffic-related position in the Public Works budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The department - like all others in the city - had been reduced through retirements and reshuffling staff to fill vacancies elsewhere to address general fund shortfall challenges.

There are several sidewalk projects that have been delayed due to inadequate staff time to process them.

Included is the second phase of the East Yosemite Avenue sidewalk project between Powers Avenue and Cottage Avenue.

The city initially put in a four foot wide swath of sidewalk several years ago as people were walking on the shoulder to stay out of the mud in the rainy season, the second phase includes securing seven feet of right of way from nine parcels to construct three additional feet of sidewalk plus plant nine street trees.

“We are focusing our staff time on areas where there aren’t currently sidewalks,” McLaughlin said, as she pointed out why the East Yosemite Avenue sidewalk work has become a low priority.

Work on sidewalks along Commerce Court to access the Social Security office is expected to start this fall. Some $62,500 has been set aside for that project.

That is in addition to another $348,175 set aside to work on other areas of Manteca that do not have sidewalks such as the west side of Cottage Avenue between East Yosemite Avenue and Pine Street.

Of that, some $117,570 will go for actual sidewalk construction and $230,605 for right-of-way acquisition.