The two kids - students from Joshua Cowell - stood patiently on the corner of Brookdale Way and Cottage Aveune Wednesday afternoon.
They watched as car after car by with most pushing the posted speed limit. Some of the vehicles coming from the north were on the intersection in seconds after turning off of Louise Avenue. The traffic from the south, though, was worse. At least five cars seemed to pick up speed after cresting the Highway 99 overpass making it difficult at best to judge car speed and safe distances.
Finally after just under four minutes, the two started crossing the street without benefit of even a crosswalk. And although when they started across the closest vehicle was perhaps the equivalent of two blocks away, a red Mazda almost clipped them as they cleared the mid-point of the street.
That is exactly what has Councilman Steve DeBrum vowing not to rest until he can get the city to do something to enhance pedestrian safety and slow traffic down on Cottage Avenue.
DeBrum said he has been out observing the intersection and had seen youth who waited to cross and then started to do so when it should have been safe enough distance all of a sudden have a car upon them due to the speeds. Children from 99 households have to cross Cottage Avenue at that point to reach Cowell School.
DeBrum wants the city to explore all options - whether it is a crosswalk or a roundabout - to slow traffic speed on the segment of Cottage Avenue between the overpass and Louise Avenue.
And exploring all the options is just what Public Works Director Mark Houghton has in mind. He plans to have his staff look at various options and include the T-intersection at Button Avenue in the assessment as drivers there often have a shortened response time to make turns due to the profile of the overpass, vehicle speed, and the proximity of the intersection to the bridge.
Pedestrian traffic has picked up significantly in recent years with the completion of the 99-home neighborhood in the triangle formed by Cottage, Louise, and Highway 99. Earlier this year, the city made some safety improvements for pedestrians and specially those handicapped using mobility devices. It was part of an effort to make it safer for them to be able to safely cross the freeway on Cottage where they come close to vehicle traffic often traveling above the speed limit coming off the bridge.
The city has targeted Cottage on both sides of the overpass as a frequent placement of the street radar speed display reader in a bid to slow down motorists.
Traffic picked up significantly once Industrial Park Drive was connected with Spreckels Avenue several years ago. That made it possible to take Cottage Avenue and drive seamlessly onto Spreckels and then Industrial Park Drive to reach Wal-Mart on Main Street or to keep going west to Union Road as the road changes to Mission Ridge Drive at Main Street.
Cottage is part of the only road in Manteca that has four different names.
Whatever solution staff comes up with and is eventually accepted by the council, Houghton said the plan is to make the improvement in concert with a project in the works to widen Louise Avenue between Cottage and a point west of Marsh Creek Lane. There are no sidewalks, curbs or gutters in the stretch.
It is part of an ongoing effort to widen narrowed stretches of Louise Avenue all the way from Airport Way to the city limits just east of Pestana Avenue.
On the active project list is widening the railroad crossing between Airport Way and Union Road to four lanes.
Other segments include where Louise Avenue narrows to two lanes and there goes back up to four lanes just east of Main Street. The biggest money would be the eventual widening of the Louise Avenue overcrossing of Highway 99.