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Broken promises & grandstanding: Do Manteca leaders really care about safety of pedestrians?
YG sidewalk

The streets of Manteca are unpaved with broken promises.

Proclamations from elected city leaders regarding pedestrian safety are older than the moon crater-sized potholes in the alley behind the businesses on the east side of the 200 block of North Main Street.

Let’s go through just a few of the promises in recent years in regards to installing missing city sidewalks. All are in high profile locations.

One is the missing segment along Cottage Avenue north of the car wash. Councils have promised to install the sidewalk twice but when Social Security put a new office in on Commerce Court they shifted the money to put in a sidewalk from Phoenix Drive to the new building even though they had the power to make the developer pick up the tab and be reimbursed when vacant property the sidewalk borders is developed.

Speaking of Cottage Avenue, the city has given lip service to making it safer for pedestrians trying to cross Highway 99 by somehow improving walking up to the bridge deck where they are just  a foot or so from cars that regularly exceed the speed limit.

Crossing the 120 Bypass via Main Street, Union Road, and Airport Way is more of the same except none of them has a sidewalk on the bridge deck. Nothing separates pedestrians from the heavy traffic. There is also only a three-foot high K-rail style wall separating pedestrians walking across the bridge from the freeway below. There is a 6-foot high cyclone fence on Cottage Avenue, Louise Avenue, Lathrop Road, and Austin Road where they cross Highway 99 just as there is on freeway crossings through Stockton and Modesto.

A previous council — led by former Councilman Vince Hernandez — successfully pushed for a separate pedestrian/bicycle bridge that is being constructed as part of the diverging diamond interchange being built at Union Road and the 120 Bypass.

If this is Caltrans’ responsibility — at least for the bridge deck issues — then the council needs to push for the improvements.

Residents pushed for nearly six years before the city installed crosswalk warning flashers on Woodward Avenue at Buena Vista Drive. The high profile alert system didn’t go in until after a grandfather was struck and killed near the midway point of crossing the street while pushing his grandson in a stroller.

A block to the east, the in-ground crosswalk flashing lights at Wellington Avenue were inoperable for almost two years before they were replaced in 2018. Six months later the $100,000 plus overhead replacement warning flashing lights that are activated when someone is trying to cross stopped working.  It hasn’t functioned for going on five weeks. Imagine the outcry from the City Council if traffic signals at Daniels Street and Airport Way leading to Big League Dreams were inoperable for five weeks. Whoops, that’s right. Cars matter. Pedestrians are collateral damage.

We are now in the process of the second $100,000 plus study involving city sidewalks in the past five years to identify safety issues, American with Disabilities non-compliance, and where there are missing segments of sidewalks.

The current council has often railed not just about how traffic is getting out of control in Manteca but how no one seems to care about pedestrian safety. We are also always told there isn’t money to address sidewalk needs.

This is why the current City Council is likely to show their true colors when the 99-home Yosemite Greens project proposed west of the golf course on the southeast corner of Crom Street and Airport Way comes before them for rubber stamping

The Manteca Unified School District has raised a serious question about the safety of students from Yosemite Greens walking to and from Stella Brockman School and the city has chosen to ignore it.

Someone might want to check to see exactly how deadly it can be to walk in Manteca. At third of the 27  traffic deaths in the city since 2010 have been people not encased in 3,000 plus pounds of metal and other materials. We call those dead people pedestrians.

What makes Yosemite Greens especially offensive when it comes to the city being missing in actions when it comes to pedestrian safety is as follows:

*The development will be responsible for generating the only housing where residents will need to walk along the south side of Crom Street to go anywhere.

*Having school kids cross at Airport Way and Crom Street is not exactly a safe route to school. The intersection is destined to be the main entrance to a proposed 5 million square foot business park with lots of truck traffic.

*The section along Crom Street between Yosemite Greens and Silverado that lacks sidewalk is along the municipal golf course.

*Crom Street as a connector already is the source of a lot of neighborhood complaints of frustrated drivers using it as a shortcut and not traveling at the posted speed limit. As growth occurs it will get worse.

Does anyone want to make a bet that the buyers of the 99 homes once they are built will be before the City Council demanding they put sidewalk in along Crom and enhance the safety of school children crossing at Silverado?

That is exactly what happened on Woodward Avenue at Pagola Avenue almost three years ago when buyers of new homes south of Woodward complained about safety issues of their children crossing the collector street to go to and from Veritas School.

The city ended up putting in a high profile crosswalk on the dime of existing taxpayers when essentially 100 percent of the need for such improvements was due to growth.

The reason it was not caught is the traffic consultants the city hires to analyze projects are notorious for not taking pedestrian trips and destinations into consideration.  It doesn’t take rocket science to determine where students that will live in new houses will go to school and if the primary walking route to get there and back requires crossing either a collector street or an arterial.

But then again maybe the city — that makes it sound like pedestrian safety is a top priority and is spending $200,000 plus currently on a study aimed at making walking and bicycling in Manteca easier and safer to do — never tells the consultants pedestrian safety based on where people from new homes will walk matters. That, of course, runs contrary to what the city tells everyone else.

Yosemite Greens — if the council OKs it in the present condition — should be held up in the next council election as a prime example of how Manteca is letting developers and new home buyers get off the hook for impacts they are clearly making and passing the bill to everyone else to pay.

Yosemite Greens already is refusing to encumber their future homebuyers with a Mello-Roos tax so future residents pay their fair share of school housing impacts they are creating.

Now the developer is essentially saddling the city for the cost of a sidewalk needed to 100 percent serve school-aged children walking to school from the proposed neighborhood

Yosemite Greens needs to pay for the sidewalk along Crom Street to Silverado Drive plus an enhanced crosswalk.

If they don’t it will be very clear that Manteca’s elected leaders are all talk when it comes to not just pedestrian safety but also making sure growth pays its own way instead of everyone else in Manteca picking up the tab.