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Manteca going after $1M to create tree-lined median
A tree-line median could be put in place along Louise Avenue between Airport Way and Main Street later this year except for at intersections and turn pockets such as these at Union Road. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Louise Avenue could become Manteca’s shadiest tree-lined street.

The City Council this week authorized staff to proceed with spending $100,000 in Measure K pavement maintenance funds to hire a consultant to complete plans and prepare an application for funding to rip out the center lane on Louise Avenue between Main Street and Airport Way and replace it with a tree-lined median. That covers a distance of two miles.

The project would also include bike lanes, a slurry overlay for the pavement, and the creation of turn pockets at intersections.

Public Works Director Mark Houghton cautioned the $1 million federal funding isn’t an absolute sure thing. However, the San Joaquin Council of Governments is fairly confident if Manteca can submit an application and complete with design work by May 16, 2013 that Manteca will secure the funds.

The money would come from a federal pot of transit enhancement money. Manteca previously secured $3.7 million from the same source to plant 7,100 trees, 3,900 shrubs and 500,000 square feet of hydro seed for grass to landscape the 120 Bypass and Highway 99 corridors. To put that in perspective, there are 7,600 city-maintained street trees in all of Manteca plus 8,801 trees in the city’s 50 parks that includes the golf course and along the Tidewater Bikeway system.

Louise Avenue and Union Road were dubbed “Manteca Canyons” by angry residents near Sierra High in the late 1990s who were trying to stop the city from repeating the major road design along Fishback Road.

They were dubbed canyons because both roads consist of the equivalent of five lanes of pavement from curb-to-curb, against a sidewalk that is flushed to six-foot sound walls with an occasional tree well to break up the concrete and asphalt. Besides not being appealing visually, the mass of concrete, asphalt and sound wall masonry blocks generates tremendous heat during the summer making walking down either corridor unpleasant.

If Manteca secures the funds, work would start during the current year.