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Take it out! Take it out!
Moorhead pushes to rid Main of bulb-outs
Council member Debby Moorhead believes it is clear what people want: Free the traffic flow on Main Street through downtown by taking out the bulb-outs and removing the landscape medians and replace them with raised curbing to prevent mid-block left turn movements. - photo by HIME ROMERO


Should the city get rid of the bulb-outs and medians in the 100 block of North Main Street in downtown Manteca? Vote yes or no by going to and scrolling down to the poll question.

Managing editor of the
Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin
Debby Moorhead hears her constituents loud and clear.

“Everyone is saying, ‘Take it out! Take it out!” Moorhead said of the much maligned bulb-outs in the 100 block of North Main Street.

That is why the council member is pushing for a “yea” or “nay’ vote on the bulbs once and for all at the Dec. 21 Manteca City Council meeting.

“Traffic needs to flow freely through downtown,” Moorhead said.

Moorhead noted the Manteca Chamber of Commerce that she serves as chief executive officer has taken a position on the Main Street landscaping bulbs. The chamber board wants the bulbs out as well. And - as an added measure - they don’t want the city to monkey around with changing the direction of Maple Avenue for fear it will revert back to the days of massive backups on Yosemite Avenue when people tried to make left turns onto Maple during busy times of the day. It is also a position that Moorhead backs.

The last straw for Moorhead was on Tuesday afternoon. She was the third car back at a red light on Center Street at Yosemite Avenue. There was a police car stopped in traffic when motorists going southbound on Main Street proceeded to block the intersection.

Due to the back up when the light changed for Center traffic only one car got through.

“That is happening every day,” Moorhead said. “And seeing people doing it (blocking the intersection) when there was a police car at the intersection was truly amazing.”

She said the only expenses that will be incurred is the labor to tear out the concrete medians and bulb-outs and new pavement as well as cement curbing to block left turns mid-block that allows more than three or four cars to stack up to turn left onto west bound Center from northbound Main and left onto east bound Yosemite from southbound Main.

Moorhead has support from the only council member who actually voted against the bulbs back in 2003 and stayed opposed to them after they went into place in June of 2005 - Mayor Willie Weatherford- but with a big caveat attached. Weatherford definitely wants to see the bulbs come out in the long run but not before there is adequate money available to do a full-scale traffic study of all of downtown as the act of taking the bulbs out may not solve anything at all.

The reasons he cited for an approach that favors a more deliberate but eventual removal of the bulbs includes:

•The congestion caused by two lanes of traffic by taking the bulbs out will not disappear as there is still parking in the 100 block of North Main Street.

•The block is too narrow for four lanes of traffic plus turn lanes.

•Eliminating turn movements by making Center Street and Yosemite Avenue one way between Union Road and Fremont Avenue would allow more traffic to flow through downtown on Main Street.

•Merchants who backed keeping parking in the 100 block of North Main that prompted the council majority that excluded Weatherford and then councilman Jack Snyder to approve the bulbs wanted to do so to “slow traffic” from just rushing through downtown.

Like Moorhead he is against changing Maple Avenue saying that flipping the direction of travel would bring back the days of back-ups on Yosemite Avenue beyond the railroad tracks at peak travel times. He also was against reverting Maple back to two-way traffic noting that one-way traffic has eliminated double parking in front of the post office.

A workshop was conducted by the city public works department on Thursday of interested downtown merchants and community members about the possibility of making changes to Maple Avenue such as going from southbound to northbound. That second look was brought up in September by Councilman Vince Hernandez.

Moorhead ultimately would like to see changes in the Main Street corridor from Alameda to Center Street as well where travel is restricted to two lanes and creates bottlenecks.

Most businesses have off-street parking plus there are municipal lots. In the past it has been suggested that the city make a concerted effort to upgrade alley access and make it more appealing.

Weatherford pointed out that Manteca doesn’t have another north-south arterial that can be used to divert traffic around downtown. He added that the narrowness of the Main Street corridor also creates other issues if four lanes are created.

Having said that, he believes a comprehensive traffic study will show creating one-way east-west streets using Center and Yosemite will take  a lot of pressure off Main Street by reducing traffic back-ups in the short blocks on Main Street in downtown.