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Spreckels Park traffic leads way
Biggest traffic gains on Yosemite at Spreckels, Northwoods
It just seems that the Yosemite-Main intersection is the heaviest traveled in Manteca It is actually the seventh highest in terms of traffic count. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Editor’s note: This is the first in an occasional series on Manteca traffic.

It’s boring and tedious reading unless you are a traffic engineer or planner.

Yet the 501-page document the Manteca Planning Commission has just received to prepare for a Jan. 25 public hearing will impact the lives of every Manteca resident for years to come.

The document is the environmental impact report for the circulation element to Manteca’s general plan that serves as the city’s blue print for growth.

It addresses acceptable levels of service - how long it takes to get through key intersections at heavy traffic times - plus explores expressways to move traffic quicker ways of slowing down traffic in neighborhoods, ways of softening the visual impact of streets, plus ways for pedestrians, bicyclists and even transit riders to get around Manteca.

In cobbling together such a report, planners must take into account that actions can’t take place in one location without impacting another. Such is the case with proposed changes in downtown traffic.

Although not specifically addressed in the traffic circulation element, policies and guidelines that could be applied to a Main Street corridor solution through downtown are part of the overall look at traffic in Manteca as the city grows over the next 20 years.

Planning, of course, has to take into account existing conditions.

That is why the city conducts annual traffic counts.

The last survey showed traffic count had skyrocketed 17.5 percent in a year’s time at the Spreckels/Cottage/Yosemite avenues intersection.

That comes as no surprise to motorists who are often backed up a dozen cars deep going north-south through the intersection at peak travel times or those dealing with left turn traffic going from Yosemite to Spreckels stacking up past the Applebee’s driveway with greater frequency.

Average daily traffic count measures in March and April jumped 3,700 vehicles at the intersection going from 21,100 in 2008 to 24,800 in 2009. The count moved Spreckels/Yosemite up the Top 10 busiest intersection list in Manteca from No. 10 to No. 6.

It was the largest jump in traffic in Manteca. Next with 3,300 more vehicles was the No. 2 intersection at Yosemite and Northwood’s that had 31,400 vehicles pass through it each day. The third biggest gain was at Daniels and Airport with 2,900 more cars each day.

Manteca’s busiest intersection is Louise at Main with 37,700 vehicle trips. It increased by 300 vehicles a day over the previous count.

A 1999 traffic study predicted 39,000 vehicles would eventually pass through the Spreckels/Yosemite intersection once Spreckels Park and nearby commercial is completely built and filled. That compares to 17,200 vehicles at the intersection the first year that Spreckels Avenue was opened as a stub started in 1999 with the construction of the Food-4-Less store. Before Spreckels opened, the Cottage-Yosemite intersection had a traffic county of 16,200 vehicles a day.

The extension of Industrial Park Drive to Spreckels Avenue is slowly but surely luring vehicles off Main Street to ease downtown traffic counts. Intersection counts show Louise-to-Cottage/Spreckels/Industrial Park Drive to Main has become a de facto bypass thanks to the draw of the Spreckels Park retail as well as the access to neighborhoods south of the Highway 120 Bypass via Van Ryn Avenue off of Industrial Park Drive.

The count at Yosemite and Main was 24,800, down 300 vehicle counts. The intersection dropped one notch to the No. 7 spot on the Top 10 list. Ten years ago the traffic count was 26,200.

Those changes underscore how traffic is constantly in flux as development occurs and new streets open.