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Woodward Park neighbors: Ticket more aggressively and save $20,000
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Thirty-six citations were issued this past weekend in the Woodward Park neighborhood for blocking fire hydrants, partially blocking driveways, and blocking handicapped access points.

Manteca Police Chief Dave Bricker said his community service officer indicated they could easily have issued 100 citations had they also gone after people parking too close to corners.

The vehicles belonged to those attending a major regional soccer tournament at Woodward Park.

That is exactly what at least two Woodward Park neighborhood residents told the Manteca City Council that they like to see - aggressive ticket writing for parking violators - instead of investing $20,000 for converting the four-lane Woodward Avenue between Main Street and Bridewell into a two-lane thoroughfare to allow the creation of 160 on-street parking places.

The council on Tuesday directed staff to return at a later date with a more precise plan and cost estimate as well as where funding would be obtained to reduce the segment of Woodward Avenue from four to two lanes.

While some residents have gone on record favoring such a move, the two that spoke at the council meeting said it was a waste of money because they believed:

• It would congest traffic on Woodward Avenue.

• People will still park as close as they can to the soccer fields even if it means blocking someone’s driveway.

• The city at some point in the future would have to go back and remove the changes when traffic demand picks up.

• People parallel parking would back up through traffic.

Public Works Director Mark Houghton noted the plan is to place six-foot-wide bike lanes on either side of Woodward Avenue next to the parallel parking. He said that would provide ample room for those parking to make their movements into a parking space without blocking traffic.

The two-lane proposal was the outgrowth of ongoing issues in the neighborhoods surrounding Woodward Park that have to deal with high speed traffic during rush hours plus hundreds of cars parked in their neighborhoods from people trying to access major regional soccer tournaments at the park on weekends. It is also connected with concerns voiced by parents about the safety of children trying to cross the five-lane Woodward Avenue (including the turn lane) going to and from Woodward School or Woodward Park. Traffic often exceeds the posted 40 mph speed limit.

The parallel parking proposal does not require moving the landscaped median. Instead it would require about $20,000 in stripping which includes bike lanes plus other changes when combined with the placement of a crosswalk on Woodward at Buena Vista Drive. The most likely source of funds for the work would be Measure K sales tax and restricted taxes collected by the state for the purpose of paying for the creation of bike lanes.

Staff is recommending that crosswalk be a “high visibility” crosswalk. That means it calls for bulb outs on both sides extending from the corner to shorten the distance between the two sides of the street plus the creation of a pedestrian refuge island at the mid-point of the road. That essentially would create two separate crosswalks connected by the island. There would also be a flashing overhead beacon put in place and other signage making motorists aware of the crosswalk.

By going with parallel parking only, it leaves the door open to the possibility of converting the street back to four lanes of traffic if the need arises.

A two-lane roadway can handle 14,600 vehicles a day and still meet the city’s targeted service level. The segment of Woodward by the park currently carries 6,300 vehicles a day.

The city has already permanently changed the plans for Woodward Avenue west of Main Street to its western terminus to constrict it as a wide two-lane street with a landscaped median instead of the previously adopted four lanes.

Atherton Drive, which is just to the north, is four lanes. The missing segment between Main Street and a point west of Wellington Avenue will be constructed this summer. That is expected to initially reduce traffic loads on Woodward Avenue.