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Tire marks, medians & public safety
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Perhaps you don’t like the new medians on Louise Avenue.

You may even think they are the stupidest thing the City of Manteca has ever done.

But don’t argue that the fact there are tire marks already on the concrete curbing as proof that they are a hazard.

While there is a hazard on Louise Avenue, it isn’t the medians. It’s drivers.

To leave tire tread on a median on Louise Avenue you have to be fairly oblivious to watching where you are going. While it is true the city received the federal pass through money solely because it was for a transportation beautification project first and foremost it was carefully designed as a safety improvement by the city.

The men and women we entrust to enforce traffic laws will tell you that narrower lanes do tend to slow most drivers down. And whether we like it or not bicyclists and pedestrians have the right to use the pavement either to cross it or pedal down it. The bicycle lanes haven’t been added yet but the temporary striping has narrowed the lane closest to the median.

Is it too narrow? Not by a long shot. It meets state standards for a safe travel lane when traveled at the posted speed.

If the medians placed where they are cramp the style of some drivers then that is a good thing.

The City Council nixed a design that would have had medians blocking some intersections. What is in place now is reasonable.

The placement of the medians has effectively reduced the abuse of the turn lane.

Turn lanes aren’t de facto travel lanes.

For that reason and the real safety issues that come along with abusing center turn lanes, the city needs to install more of them throughout the city in critical locations whenever they get the opportunity to do so.

Manteca — for whatever reason — has assumed that the constitution guarantees the right for drivers to make left turns at will regardless of where they are at.

The daily games of chicken on East Yosemite Avenue between Commerce Avenue and Spreckels Avenue will only get worse when Panera Bread and future commercial where Manteca Bowl once stood opens up.

It is bad enough when oncoming traffic crosses into the turn lanes at the same time to access driveways on opposite sides of the street, but when you toss drivers turning out of driveways in both directions you’ve got way too many variables.

It is reflected in T-bone collisions most of which are at relatively slow speed. Still the damage is high.

Part of the problem is the fact you can’t make a U-turn at Spreckels or at Commerce. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have common driveways instead of each business having its own. One thing that delayed ground breaking for Panera Bread was so that the old McDonald’s/Manteca Bowl parcel would have one common driveway onto Yosemite for the entire area and not three or four.

It is designed to allow direct access to Panera Bread and future concerns from the older shopping center next door that’s anchored by Grocery Outlet.

It wasn’t too long ago that Manteca eagerly kowtowed to developers that were against sharing common driveways with neighboring projects out of fear if they did so needed retail stores would bolt and not come to town.

The result is the gas station next to Jack-in-the-Box that has its own driveway. Such shortsighted policy is also seen on Spreckels Avenue where the Pet Smart and Food 4-Less shopping centers have a landscaped barrier between their parking lots. Instead of a traffic flow design for all of the properties, the city created a hazard near the intersection of Norman Drive and Spreckels Avenue. Not only is the heavily traveled access to Target and that center a bit too close to the Norman intersection, but the city gave the Pet Smart complex a driveway right on top of both Target and Norman that is aligned with neither. They tried to force a right turn in and out only pattern from the Pet Smart center with a raised island but that is routinely ignored by people making left turns in and out.

The center could have been designed without that driveway onto Spreckels by making the southern Food-4-Less driveway a common driveway. The commercial buildings along Spreckels could have been positioned differently. Also there would have been the benefit of Food-4-Less traffic being able to connect with Norman.

The mess is in the same league as the offset entrance from Louise Avenue to the 24 Hour Fitness center and Save Mart center.

There may not be a huge number of collision but the near misses and increased hazards for drivers making turns underscores how such haphazard planning is dangerous to the public.

The best way to tame the wild west mentality that prevail sometimes on Manteca’s streets is to ditch the ability to make left turns at random practically everywhere in town as well as putting safety ahead of maximizing developers’ profits.

As for drivers who strike clearly visible medians, the only person they have to blame for tire alignment costs and excessive wear is themselves.

 

This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209.249.3519.