During an October workshop the public made it clear — they want four travel lanes on Main Street.
A staff memo to the Manteca City Council notes “it became clear that the public wanted to address the larger traffic circulation issue. Thus one of the frequent comments was ‘we need four lanes on Main Street’.”
When the City Council meets Tuesday to decide the latest reincarnation of the 100 block of North Main Street that will result in what staff estimated at one point could be a $1 million tax investment between Yosemite Avenue and Center Street, they will have an option before them that one councilman has called “the ultimate solution.”
That ultimate solution involves breaking the Atherton Drive to Center Street redo of Main Street into two projects. The repaving and associated work from Yosemite Avenue to Main Street would move forward with construction targeted for spring of 2018.
It also involves removing the existing bulbs between Center Street and Yosemite Avenue and creating a separate project for Main Street from Yosemite Avenue to Alameda Street with the intent of making it four lanes.
This would require a feasibility study and an environmental document prior to design and construction. It would mean all parking on Main Street between Main and Alameda would be eliminated.
Do it now instead
of coming back
in the coming years
Councilman Gary Singh, along with several colleagues, questioned the wisdom at a council meeting earlier this year of spending $1 million on the 100 block of North Main to take out the bulbs and put in place three lanes and then having to come back in perhaps 10 years as Manteca grows to widen it to four lanes and spend even more money.
Singh pointed out that as Manteca grows Main Street will continue to serve as the major north-south arterial.
As it stands now Main Street runs as four lanes between the Lathrop Road/Highway 99 interchange and the 120 Bypass except for four blocks through central Manteca. Main Street is on target to be widened to four lanes south of the 120 Bypass as growth occurs.
The four blocks in question contain a number of off-street parking lots that are under used. While day time parking in the street is at minimum given the majority of the time the parallel parking stalls are hardly used, some involved with the FESM Hall have expressed concern that during night-time events people who usually park in the 200 block of North Main Street might have to park a block or so away on a side street.
Should the council opt for the option, they will be able to wed it with nearly $2 million in federal grants to update and optimize traffic signal controllers. That means they could accomplish optimum traffic flow on Main Street taking it up to its ultimate capacity.
Back in 2005 when the council was weighing whether to do what is now being suggested and go with four lanes, then Councilman Jack Snyder had SHARP volunteers count parked cars on the four block stretch that had roughly 70 spaces at various times on different weekdays and found it was rare for even 20 vehicles to be parked at any given time.
They found the actual use was at a minimum because of difficulty pulling in and out of Main Street traffic. Those that parked on the streets tended to be owners and workers. Customers either used parking in the back of the buildings or off street parking. Even today the off-street parking that is available — there are four public use lots available that aren’t tied to a particular business — are rarely used to the point they are even near full during the day except for Wells Fargo Bank.
The council at the time ultimately voted 3-2 to go with the current configuration in the 100 block of North Main Street on the premise they wanted to slow traffic down through the downtown district to encourage motorists to “check out” offerings as opposed to maximizing traffic flow.
Such a four lane plan would eliminate dedicated left turn pockets and instead require traffic signals at North Street, Center Street and Yosemite Avenue to go in “waves” for Main Street traffic meaning southbound traffic would have a green light while the northbound traffic would have a red light and vice versa.
This would allow vehicles to make protected moves going either left or straight in the inside lanes and right or straight in the outside lanes one direction at a time. The cross streets would not have to change and could keep protected left turns.
The signal patterns would be similar to what is now in place at Spreckels Avenue/Industrial Park Drive and Moffat Boulevard.
Medians were put up
to reduce mid-block
turns that made traffic
congestion even worse
The other alternative is to go ahead with the project as proposed with two southbound lanes and one northbound lane in the 100 block of North Main while ripping out the bulbs and paving from Center Street to Atherton Drive at the same time.
That would have two options for the 100 block of North Main — a raised concrete median that would be a barrier for turns across traffic from driveways — or a striped median that would allow such turns.
The main reason the existing medians went in and were placed where they are today had to do with numerous mid-block turn movements into parking lots and driveways that tied up traffic and triggered numerous fender benders.
The worst offending driveway accesses the Wells Fargo Bank parking lot. Before the landscaped median was put in place it was a common occurrence for cars trying to exit the parking lot wanting to head south to pull out and block northbound traffic while waiting for a break in the southbound flow on Main Street.
The City Council meets Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org