There’s a roundabout in the future for the Union Road and Woodward Avenue intersection.
The City of Manteca’s five-year capital improvement plan that’s part of the proposed municipal budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 is proposing to spend $1.5 million in the 2018-2019 fiscal year for the roundabout.
It is one of two traffic improvement projects programmed for the Woodward Avenue corridor independent of improvements new development will put in place.
The other is $1 million set aside to put in high-profile overhead flashing lights for the crosswalk on Woodward at Wellington Avenue as well as a high-profile three-way stop with overhead flashing red lights at Woodward and Pillsbury Avenue.
The justification for the Union/Woodward intersection work notes “roundabout controlled intersections can efficiently service traffic with decreased delay and greater efficiency than traffic signals. This is particularly true where traffic volumes entering the roundabout are nearly balanced on all legs and where there are a high number of left turning vehicles.”
Roundabouts also have significantly less ongoing maintenance and operation costs compared to traffic signals.
The city explored a roundabout option at Woodward and Main as well as Woodward and Pillsbury but determined existing development precluded them from being pursued.
The $1 million for the crosswalk work at Wellington and the three-way stop at Pillsbury was budgeted for the current fiscal year.
Staff last year said the Wellington and Pillsbury work would be grouped with a permanent overhead flasher for Woodward at Pagola Avenue so all three projects could move forward at the same time to gain savings.
The in-ground crosswalk flashers at Wellington Avenue have not been in service since October of 2016.
Last fall the city spent $12,000 for a temporary measure to put in place a “highly visible” crosswalk with a pole-mounted warning sign with solar powered flashers at Pagola and Woodward avenues. It is crossed by kindergarten and eighth grade students going to and from the elementary campus from the new Blossom Grove and Milner Estates neighborhoods that are now under construction. As more and more homes go up south of Woodward Avenue, traffic has increased The intersection is 600 feet of Veritas School.
The safety improvements at Woodward and Pagola went in less than six months after parents expressed concerns about the safety of children walking to and from school.
The city’s nimble response to a crosswalk safety request is in sharp contrast to the Woodward Avenue and Buena Vista Drive intersection. Back in 2011 after Manteca Unified increased the walking distances to elementary schools after bus service was reduced due to budget cuts, 911 residents north of Woodward Avenue signed a petition to put flashing beacons at Buena Vista Drive for children walking to and from Woodward School as well as Woodward Park. The council agreed to do so but it then it got bogged down at the staff level. Finally in 2013 the council commissioned a study to determine the flashing beacon was justified. After it was completed they authorized the installation of the beacons that are activated when a pedestrian pushes a button.
The flashing beacons were installed in 2016.
Since the death of three pedestrians in an 18-month period including a first grader walking to Shasta School and a grandfather who was pushing his grandson in a stroller at the midpoint of crossing Woodward Avenue, the council has been more aggressive insisting quicker action on pedestrian safety issues.
They went as far as overruling staff on the new Union Road diverging diamond interchange design to have a separate bridge over the 120 Bypass for pedestrians and bicyclists to reduce the need for them to cross Union Road traffic twice to cross the freeway.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com