The days of peak southbound traffic in the 100 block of North Main Street blocking the Center Street intersection are numbered.
The Manteca City Council Tuesday unanimously decreed the much maligned remaining six landscaping bulbs will become history in favor of a redo of the block that has been a tourniquet on traffic flow since the controversial decision in 1992 to ban left turns from southbound Main onto East Yosemite Avenue. That decision was also ultimately reversed.
The bulb removal — which are still a ways off due to state-mandated environmental review hoops the city has to jump through as well as changes needed to traffic signals and such — are part of a plan to essentially double the capacity of the block to handle southbound traffic by adding a second lane.
When done the block will have:
uNo landscaping bulb-outs left. Originally there were eight but two have been removed since they were all installed in 2005 due to them being struck by numerous motorists turning into the Wells Fargo Bank parking lot and pulling out of the alley next to Manteca Bedquarters.
uNarrower travel lanes at 10 feet wide compared to the current 12 feet. There will be two southbound lanes and one northbound lane.
uMedians will be relocated and made narrower to allow for more vehicles in left turn pockets onto Center Street and East Yosemite Avenue.
uBike lanes on both sides of the street.
uNo on-street parking.
Brenda Franklin — a downtown merchant that has championed the central district for years — noted business owners she talked to along the 100 block of North Main were not concerned about losing on-street parking.
“That particular block is rich with parking,” Franklin said as she rattled off a list of off-street parking options.
Realtor Wendy Benavides, who once worked in an office on the block, noted the medians that are in place have effectively ended numerous accidents that use to occur from people trying to turn into or from parking lots and alleys from opposite sides of the street. It has also eliminated those turn movements blocking Main Street traffic.
She supported keeping medians on the street but adjusting their locations and making them narrower.
Benavides, though, urged the city to give some thought to placing a decorative wrought iron fence in the middle of the length of reconfigured medians. The objective would be to prevent pedestrians as well as bicyclists — that she has seen hopping the median curb — from crossing mid-block and creating safety hazards for them as well as traffic.
Mayor Steve DeBrum led the successful charge to set in motion the council directive to take out the bulbs.
He had been swayed 12 years ago to support a consultant’s recommendation to place the bulb-outs on North Main Street to retain on-street parking as well as “encourage” more motorists to access downtown.
“It was a big mistake,” DeBrum said Tuesday, noting the bulb-outs have contributed significantly to a decline in the level of service in terms of how long it takes for traffic to move down Main Street.
He added people have told him they avoid downtown altogether due to the congestion in the 100 block of North Main Street.
Public Works Director Mark Houghton emphasized there will be time involved to do the necessary state environmental requirements as well as the actual road work that includes installing new traffic signal loops in the pavement.