Can Manteca prevent Center St. from becoming a Yosemite bypass between Main and Airport?

Center Street was never intended as a collector street.

It was also never intended to be a bypass of Yosemite Avenue.

For the past 115 years or so it has continued to expand westward as Manteca has grown.

If you had told Joshua Cowell – the guy credited with founding Manteca and who was at one time the owner of the largest general merchandise store in town spanning 400 square feet – that one day they would a 140,000 square foot store known as Costco where people stocked up on supplies accessible from Airport Way, he would have told you you were crazy.

An area of ​​140,000 square feet was larger than all of downtown Manteca when the commercial district first settled.

As for Airport Way which had a different name at the time, it was far, far, far from the city.

A hired traffic consultant who makes his money by entering numbers into software to model traffic impacts in the abstract, would not consider Center Street a collector or a downtown bypass.

It was not designed as such.

The people who drive in Manteca day in and day out are not traffic advisors. If they were, they would apparently avoid Center Street like the plague in an effort to avoid traffic jams.

Fortunately, Manteca has planning commissioners who are taking their job more and more seriously.

And while it may not be in their general job description depending on how one interprets it, they have increasingly pushed back against the wit and wisdom of traffic consultants.

Their recommended rejection of the ongoing traffic debacle of 814 homes in Yosemite Square on Austin Road is a prime example.

But it’s also the little things the commissioners see and question that will ensure a better quality of life as Manteca grows and reduce the risk of tragedy and even costly repairs at a later date at taxpayer expense.

This was the case when the committee accepted the observations, concerns and general solution of colleague Judith Blumhorst regarding what might seem to some an inconsequential and minor detail.

The 420-unit pre-commission Prose apartment complex straddles Center Street, as does the existing Stonegate complex.

And just like the Stonegate complex, the Prose Apartments will have the community center and swimming pool on one side of Center Street. That means about half of the people living in the resort — including children — will have to cross Center Street to use the pool right now.

This isn’t such a big deal currently with Stonegate for a very big reason. Center Street west of Union Road, for all intents and purposes, is only one block long. It connects to Yosemite Avenue by the long block Trevino Avenue.

When – not if – Center Street is breached to Airport Way or even to St. Dominic’s Drive which accesses Kaiser Doctor’s offices and Kaiser Hospital – the amount of traffic will skyrocket.

The speed will also increase.

The commission was right to condition the project with some type of improved crossing for children – and adults – on one side of the Prose complex to and from the pool and community center.

However, this is only the beginning.

There must also be ways to slow traffic so Center Street — at least between Union Road and Airport Way — doesn’t become a busy, fairly fast thoroughfare through a neighborhood of nearly 700 homes that aren’t single family homes. .

The pedestrian crossing desired by the commission could also be designed as a traffic calming device.

If it is a central block, it could include a raised pedestrian island in the middle with traffic lanes moved to the sidewalk and parking eliminated.

If it lines up with a driveway in the complex, it could be a roundabout.

The developer pays to extend the street. Now is the time to address the likely scenarios. Indeed, after the development of the area, the city may be forced to resort to limited options such as speed tables to control speed and improve safety.

Needless to say, the city would be wise to require a roundabout when St. Dominic’s Drive and Center Street eventually meet. A second roundabout between there and Airport Way may also be called upon in the event of development.

This may not stop all future drivers frustrated with traffic on Yosemite Avenue from using it as a shortcut between Main Street and Airport Way, but it will discourage some and slow down those who use it as a bypass. traffic.

Blomhorst made another observation which was also incorporated into the endorsement.

And thousands of Manteca drivers are probably glad the commission did.

While auditing the general project area, Blomhorst spoke to people who were concerned about the apartment complex’s existing walkways accessing Center Street due to the ruggedness of the street.

If you look closely, the real problem in 2022 is that the traffic standards we use were developed in the early 1960s.

It was then that the profile of almost all vehicles driven by the general public was about the same height, including the so-called American economy cars. Pickup trucks high enough off the ground to forge the wide Missouri and SUVs were not in large numbers.

Meanwhile, more and more requirements are lower to the ground for aerodynamic energy efficiency.

You simply can’t see around most parked cars coming out of driveways if you’re in a modern sedan or economy car.

The commission wants the driveways of the Prose Apartments to have red curbs along Center Street for two car lengths in each direction.

Better yet, Greg Showerman of the city’s engineering department promised to take the issue to an internal city traffic and safety group or determine if the same two-car red curbs on either side of existing driveways would improve visibility and Security.

Growth is inevitable.

This is why Manteca must sweat the details to minimize the negative impacts.

And to do that, Manteca’s true traffic experts — the five members of the Manteca Planning Commission who drive the city’s streets — must be forward-thinking thinkers.

That’s because it’s clear with projects like Chick-fil-A and Yosemite Square that paid traffic consultants can’t see past their screens.

This column is the opinion of the editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of the Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at [email protected]

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