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Travel safety to and from Lathrop High before council
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LATHROP – The Lathrop City Council at a public hearing tonight will continue to hear from residents if they have any transportation needs that need to be met.

At the same time, staff has prepared reports about possible transportation options for residents especially seniors in the wake of a county bus route to Manteca being eliminated, and Lathrop High and elementary students who have been affected by changes in school bus routes in connection with the severe budget trimming at the school district.

Mayor Kristy Sayles reported during the first of two public hearings on this item at the last regular council meeting that an elderly resident was not happy with the elimination of the bus route that takes Lathrop residents to Manteca. Sayles explained that particular route was eliminated because there were only four people who used that bus service to go to their doctors’ appointments.

Resident Rosalinda Valencia wanted to know if there’s a bus route that would take Lathrop students to San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton and if so, what are the scheduled hours. She was concerned about the availability of this bus service because she has a child currently going to Delta.

Omar Ornales cited the need for a public transportation that would take residents without access to cars to such in-town destinations as the Target shopping center, City Hall, and schools such as Lathrop High.

“I know at least three parents who carpool their kids to school,” said Ornales who added that a bus route to Target and City Hall is important.

Valencia and others have also previously cited the existing danger at the stretch of Lathrop Road that students have to traverse on foot to and from school. This stretch of road includes walking under the freeway.

“It’s dangerous to walk to and from school under the freeway. We have a lot of kids walking that route, so this meets the criteria – that’s an unmet (transportation) need,” Valencia said.

When the school district cut back its school bus services as part of the budget cuts this school year, the result was increased traffic to and from school. Traffic jams became a daily occurrence in the morning and afternoon at the Lathrop Road and Manthey Road intersection during school days, with cars backed up several blocks east of the freeway. Those traffic jams were eased somewhat in mid-October when the city removed the stop signs on Lathrop Road at Manthey which essentially the Lathrop Road traffic to and from Lathrop High School.

The two public hearings to find out if the city has any unmet transportation needs are required for the city to receive local transportation funds through the Transportation Development Act. The city receives $450,000 annually for this purpose. However, if no unmet transit needs are identified in the city, the law allows the city to use that money for street improvements which is what has happened in the past including the previous year when those transportation funds were used to slurry seal streets around the city including Mingo Way.